Chicago Teachers Union approves budget after heated debate

After more than an hour of heated debate, the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates approved the union's budget for the coming fiscal year by a wide margin. For the first time in union history, the officers, after refusing to do so, provided the delegates with a copy of the master contract presently covering the employment of the union's remaining four officers. The contracts of the officers, which CTU President Marilyn Stewart said she was providing to the delegates after ever increasing demands for more fiscal transparency, show that the officers this year are being paid $120,000 per year.

Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart at the podium at the union's April 2009 meeting, which she pre-empted to do a media event about union organizing at charter schools. After two fierce debates on union finances, the CTU House of Delegates on June 3, 2009 approved the union's proposed budget. The approval only came after Stewart released the details of the employment contracts of herself and the union's three remaining officers, Recording Secretary Mary McGuire, Financial Secretary Mark Ochoa, and Treasurer Linda Porter. All four are paid $120,000 per year in base salary and receive a number of fringe benefits (including a paid holiday for their "natal day") that are not given to the union's dues-paying teacher and PSRP members. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.In addition to their base pay, the officers also receive several perks which the members do not. Paid holidays for union officers, for example, include a thing called "Natal Day" (apparently the birthday), Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve -- holidays which are not paid for regular union members.

The officers also receive a paid annuity equivalent to 14 percent of their salary in addition to the usual payment into the teacher or municipal employee pension plan (which has been traditional for teachers and others on leave from CPS jobs to work at the union). The annuity had been abolished by former CTU president Deborah Lynch (who served from July 2001 through July 2004), but was apparently reinstated by Marilyn Stewart some time after she took office in August 2004.

Delegates also questioned other perks included in the contracts of officers and other CTU staff. Each CTU officer and administrator, for example, receives $240 per month for "cell phone" and $1,000 per month as a "car allowance." The union also pays 85 percent of regular car insurance for officers and most other staff, so the car allowance simply covers either the person's car note or lease costs.

During the meeting there were several confrontations, as Stewart continued to try and silence dissident delegates by using what more and more delegates have been calling "Police State" tactics at the meetings. In addition to appointing sergeants at arms who seem to believe their duty is to shut off microphones when delegates disagree with Ms. Stewart, the union is also paying at least three Chicago police officers who roam the meetings in plain clothes, refusing to identify themselves, but are on call to "eject" any union member who becomes too critical of the Stewart groups.

At one point in the meeting, Stewart ordered her personal "security" detail to eject Thurgood Marshall Middle School delegate Raymond Wohl, who was trying to make a point of order regarding the proper procedures for counting a vote on a division of the house. Three individuals, later identified as Chicago Police Officers, tried to remove Wohl. They were blocked by more than two dozen delegates who insisted that the union stop using unidentified outsiders to enforce the "Police State" rules imposed by Marilyn Stewart over the five years since she was elected CTU president.

When asked to identify themselves by this reporter (who is also an elected delegate representing retired teachers), the three individuals said, "None of your business..." or something even more colorful.

The use of outside "Security" to police Chicago Teachers Union meetings is unprecedented and is part of the changes in the union that have been instituted by Marilyn Stewart.


June 4, 2009 at 11:11 PM

By: Kathleen Lakawitch


We have a contest in our school every month to see who can guess the number of pictues in the monthly newspaper of Marilyn Stewart. The last newspaper had 52! I wonder how much that glossary, large paper cost to print? This is just one issue.

June 5, 2009 at 1:39 AM

By: xian from CORE

half a million

My understanding was that it costs about $500,000. With that money, imagine what we could do if it was spent organizing instead of just giving face time...

June 6, 2009 at 4:51 PM

By: Jim Vail

How the Vote Passed

You should also note that the majority vote in favor of the budget with about 250 to 150 against was done in much the way KIPP packed the Board of Ed meeting when Penn School tried to voice their opposition to the takeover of their school by the charter operator. Basically, the supposed KIPP 'supporters' wearing KIPP shirts were most likely paid to be there.

In the same light, Marilyn Stewart packed the House with delegates rarely if ever seen before. They quickly voted on cue, and left when matters of the House were then to be discussed.

Politics is ugly - but when great independent media like Substance expose the lies, democracy becomes more possible for the people being screwed!

June 6, 2009 at 8:30 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Why the "division" procedure was aborted by Marilyn Stewart

It became clear at the time of the vote that Marilyn Stewart had a bunch of ringers voting in the House, which is why she refused to divide the House according to the procedure previously established. Once the "voters" were on opposite sides, it would have been much easier for anyone to see how many unaccredited "delegates" had suddenly appeared, all of them voting for the Stewart side.

Hence, the refusal of Marilyn to allow Ray Wohl's Point of Order (that's what he was trying to demand, a division according to the established new procedure). Had the House been divided, anyone could have done a complete tally of everyone packed into those rows on the Marilyn side who had never been to a House meeting before.

The UPC has done this in the past, at times with help from the Illinois Federation of Teachers. I remember once, back in the Tom Reece days (the 1990s) noticing slowly that Richard Kimsey and a bunch of other people (including one person who had become a principal) were all sitting together in the House, and all wearing voting credentials.

Of course, that's also why Marilyn has gotten away with refusing to print a real Delegates Directory. It's not merely that she doesn't want anyone except her people to know the phone numbers of the delegates, but she doesn't want anyone to know who the "delegates" might be in case she needs 50 or 100 extras for a one night stand and a quickie (vote).

They've been doing this for a few years now. My favorite personal experience came when the "Committee to Elect Mary Sharon Reilly" did a mass mailing to all eligible retiree member voters, using the union mailing list, and then Marilyn Stewart turned around and said I was not eligible to do a mailing to the same list. I was running against Reilly for Retiree Functional Vice President at the time, and had no way to reach all the voters without being able to do that mailing. There was a lot of double-, triple- and quardruple- talk about it from Barbara Filas and Mark Ochoa in the Finance Office, but basically, they cheated for Reilly and helped her steal the election.

Just about everybody knows that now, and thanks to the shifts inside the UPC, the nastiest details will be coming out between now and next Spring.

Once you know that they are liars, bullies and cheats, things get easier.

Assume that in everything they do they will lie, cheat, or bully and prepare accordingly.

What has changed dramatically since they lied, cheated and stole the vote on the August-September 2007 contract vote is that the majority of the members now know the truth, both in the House of Delegates and in the schools. Which is why Marilyn will only visit schools where her dwindling cadre of servants can rally her ever-smaller mob.

And the result of that is that the smart people left in the UPC (especially some with staff jobs) are trying to tell her she's in much worse shape in the schools than Debbie Lynch was at at any point in the months between the 2003 contract votes and the 2004 elections.

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