May 2020 Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meets on Zoom

Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, the May 6, 2020, HOD meeting was held by video conference. As this was the first time the CTU did this, there was no official voting on items or issues as the CTU at this time is unable to verify the attendees as actual delegates.

There was no chance to debate anything so this was mostly an informational meeting. Questions on any topic could be sent in during the meeting and they were answered by CTU staff but had no direct bearing on the topics being brought up.

The meeting started at 4:30 p.m..

I Officer Reports

A. Recording Secretary Chrystal Williams-Hayes – The CPS wanted PARAs to go into buildings without protective gear and before the buildings were sanitized. The Union got the CPS to agree to not do this unless there was a dire emergency.

B. Kathy Catalano – Financial Report – In the nine months ending March 31 of this fiscal year the CTU is in better shape than last year. Revenues of $23 million are 80% of our budget. Normally at this time we have received about 75% of what has been budgeted. About now we have an excess of about $800,000 in revenue of which about $300,000 comes from rental income. At this pace we should end the fiscal year with a surplus of about $1 million.

Kathy also presented a provisional budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The CTU is supposed to approve a budget for the coming year in June but the pandemic is pushing that procedure until probably September.

C. Recording Secretary Maria Moreno – Maria said our membership is up to 28,210, largely because the new contract required the CPS to hire more nurses and also the class size controls resulted in more teachers and classroom aides being hired. Most of them joined the CTU. However, the number of retiree members is down to 1,988.

Maria also touched on the idiotic guidelines the CPS put out for Special Ed teachers to follow. She said that they are a violation of our contract and of the state order issued last year for CPS’ mismanagement and misconduct regarding Special Ed students. She said the CPS is trying to blame the Union for the resulting problems. The Union has filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and has filed a grievance on this issue. Maria urged those who can to speak at the next CPS Board meeting, May 27. The Union is also planning on holding a press conference with parents.

D. Vice President Stacy Davis Gates – Stacy compared the current pandemic with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and what it did to the schools there. That natural disaster was used as an excuse to privatize all of their public schools. The lead CPS negotiator in our last contract talks has said that the pandemic is an “opportunity” for the Board to marginalize the gains the CTU made in the current contract.

Stacy also announced that SEIU Healthcare Illinois is planning a strike by workers in nursing homes on Friday, May 8. These workers are considered essential but are facing increased risks of contracting COVID 19. They are not provided with basic personal protective equipment and are only getting their basic pay. They deserve more.

II. President’s Report

Pres. Sharkey recognizes the stress that everyone is experiencing. He said that some “super” teachers are trying to do everything the CPS is requiring of them even though that is impossible. He urged members to do their jobs as best they can but not go overboard as they may burn themselves out.

Jesse went over the Governor’s recently announced 5 phase plan to reopen Illinois.

Schools cannot open until we hit phase four but that will take at least two months if everything, goes smoothly, something Jesse doubts.

Jesse addressed the issue of City and State budgets which have taken huge hits. At this point we do not know the extent that the federal government will help but even so things do not look good. It is important to be active in politics, especially by building coalitions with other affected groups.

Jesse also said the issue of veteran’s pay has been resolved and there will be two new salary steps. It will take time to adjust the salaries and for the Board to send out retro checks.

III. Committee/Department Reports

A. Organizing/Contract Enforcement – Curtis Bynum and Zeidre Foster – It was stressed that delegates not let principals use the pandemic to impose new rules or demands on teachers. Delegates should still have on-line PPC meetings to discuss problems with the principal. Any- thing that cannot be resolved should be referred to the CTU. The Union has been meeting weekly with the Board to discuss issues instead of its normal once a month “Strategic Bargaining” meetings. This results in issues with remote learning being brought up quicker than in the past.

B. Communications – Nate Goldbaum – Nate pointed out expanded information on the CTU website. He also lauded the CTU podcast, “CTU Speaks”, hosted by John Staros and Andrea Parker. He urged all to listen in to it. (Andrea is a Hyde Park graduate).

C. Political Action/Legislation – Kurt Hilgendorf – Kurt urged people to get involved with the “Right to Recovery”. This is a coalition started by the Union to try to get the government to direct more help to individuals instead of big corporations and the wealthy, who have benefitted from 80% of the recovery money distributed so far. The Right to Recovery includes demands of: four weeks of paid sick leave for all, improved healthcare, rent and mortgage relief, decent housing, free internet, and other similar demands.

Kurt also said we must fight revenue attacks. He sighted the governor of Ohio bragging that he cut $1 billion from education fund without touching that state’s “rainy day “ fund.

Kurt said we need to make sure the Fair Tax Amendment passes in November and the federal government has to give more support for people. He asked that everyone contact their U.s representatives and our two senators to this end.

D. Mutual Aid – Jhoanna Maldanado and Victoria Rosario – These women spoke about numerous schools that have had financial relief funds established through the CTU Latinx Caucus to help out needy families. They urged that those of us who can afford to do so donate their federal stimulus checks to these funds.

IV. Questions and Answers

Carolyn Brown asked about the fall. How do we start remote learning plans if we are not allowed back into the buildings? Jesse said that if schools reopen in September that there should be a nurse in every building and classes should be smaller or staggered due to social distancing. He said that there will be a need for more PD days. He said some suburbs are planning on having kids in classes only four days a week with the 5th day for PD.

Sabrina Williams is concerned over cuts to PARA staff and also to their safety in the schools. Chystal Williams-Hayes said the CTU is pushing for more opportunities for PARAs to work from home.

Rosemary Maurillo was concerned about the new Special guidelines which are excessive. What do we do while the complaint with the ISBE and the grievance that was filed are going through their respective processes? Jesse said to keep a log of work done but limit it to the required four hours of work per day and to keep in contact with the school administration on what is being done. He said teachers should formally request assistance and not to try to do it all on their own. He said the Special Ed demands are impossible for anyone to meet.

The meeting then ended about 6:09 p.m..


May 24, 2020 at 9:11 PM

By: Patty mitchell


I received no recent information or request of union membership as a retiree, could this be the reason membership is down? Lack of communication

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