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More than 250 attend October 23 campaign kickoff at South Side restaurant... PACT, Lynch in the race again... Chicago Teachers Union election to be held in May 2010

[Editor's Note: The following article was compiled over three days following the October 23 PACT campaign kickoff. Please consult the 'Full Disclosure' end note at the end of this article for clarification of the current affiliations of the Substance Chicago staff at this time. No members of the Substance staff from outside Chicago are affiliated with the Chicago caucuses. George N. Schmidt, Editor-in-chief].

The race to run the Chicago Teachers Union looks like it will be as long and candidate-filled as a Democratic Party primary season, with former CTU President Deborah Lynch making the formal announcement before a large after-school crowd on Friday, October 23, 2009. In front of a crowd that numbered more than 250 union members over the course of the event, Lynch announced that she is a candidate for President of the CTU, introduced her main running mates, and listed the failing of the leadership of incumbent CTU President Marilyn Stewart, who unseated Lynch in a hotly contested election in 2004 and won re-election handily against Lynch in 2007 during contract negotiations which resulted in major disappointments to most union members.

Former Chicago Teachers Union President Deborah Lynch (above at podium) formally announced her candidacy for president of the Chicago Teachers Union at a well-attended dinner meeting at the Mayfield on S. Archer Ave. in Chicago on October 23, 2009. Behind Lynch are her campaign leaders and candidates for the union's top office. Left to right: Josephine Perry (teacher at Tanner Elementary School and candidate for vice president), Mary Edmonds (teacher at McDade Elementary School and candidate for recording secretary), Kevin Condon (teacher at Stevenson Elementary School and candidate for financial secretary), Maureen Callaghan (clerk at Curie High School and candidate for treasurer), Cynthia Heywood (teacher at Vanderpoel Elementary School and co-chair campaign coordinator), and Alan Bearden (co-chair). The PACT campaign tee shirt featuring the slogan "Stop Million Dollar Marilyn" was one of the best selling items at the event. Lynch told the audience that Marilyn Stewart had wasted more than $1 million in union dues firing vice president Ted Dallas — one half million on legal costs for the firing itself and a half million dollars to buy out the remainder of Dallas's contract through May 2010, the term for which he had been elected. According to Lynch, Dallas is also getting a pension of $130,000 per year as a result of the pay and perks he received during the four years he was CTU vice president before Stewart purged him from her ranks. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The CTU election will be held on May 20, 2010 unless the current union leadership tries to sabotage it as part of an ongoing move to centralize executive power at the 31,000-member union [see related articles at substancenews.net and in the November print edition of Substance]. Is sabotage too strong a word? Not in the eyes of a growing number of union activists. Although the rules for the elections in the huge union have remained relatively unchanged for more than half a century (some major procedures were changed under Lynch, then reversed under Stewart), veteran union activists who have watched the shifting actions of Stewart believe that she is capable of anything in order to retain power. The most dramatic examples of how Stewart succeeded, at least temporarily, in pulling more and more power to herself are Stewart's purge of her elected vice president and her attempted purge of her elected treasurer. Shortly after she negotiated the ill-fated 2007 contract, Stewart attacked CTU vice president Ted Dallas, the man who had organized her two successful election campaigns at the local school level. Immediately after purging Dallas, Stewart tried and failed in a similar move against a second officer, treasurer Linda Porter. Her moves against Dallas and Porter required that Stewart claim unprecedented dictatorial powers for her largely hand-picked executive board. She succeeded in the Dallas purge, but failed in her subsequent attempt to purge her elected treasurer Linda Porter. The Porter purged resulted in failure when Porter defied a demand by Stewart's lawyers that she sign a four-page statement basically admitting to wrongdoing and agreeing to withdraw from union activities. Critics estimate that Stewart has already spent more than $1 million in union money to try and rid the union leadership of people who were once crucial to her own leadership team.

One of those critics was issuing a strongly worded criticism of Stewart from in front of a large crowd on Friday night, October 23, 2009.

Former CTU President Deborah Lynch formally announced her candidacy and introduced her four running mates at a dinner for more than 200 teachers and other CTU members at the Mayfield Banquet Hall on S. Archer Ave. on October 23.

More than 250 people attended the event, which witnessed people arriving and leaving across the three-hour time from immediately after school at 3:30 p.m. well into the evening after 6:30 p.m. By 4:00 p.m. the hall’s parking lot was overflowing and a number of people who came had to park as far as two blocks away.

At 5:00 as people were finishing their dinners, Deborah Lynch introduced her four running mates. In addition to Josephine Perry (a teacher at Tanner Elementary School) who is running for vice president, Lynch’s team includes former CTU treasurer Maureen Callaghan (again running for treasurer), Stevenson Elementary teacher Kevin Condon (financial secretary) and McDade Elementary teacher Mary Edmonds (recording secretary).

Wearing her PACT 'Stop Million Dollar Marilyn' tee shirt, Tanner Elementary School teacher Josephine Perry speaks to the October 23 campaign kickoff dinner. Perry is running for vice-president of the 31,000-member union. Behind Perry are financial secretary candidate Kevin Condon (Stevenson Elementary School) and treasurer candidate Marueen Callaghan (who is a clerk at Curie High School). On the far right, campaign co-chairs Alan Bearden and Cynthia Heywood listen. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Deborah Lynch and her running mates each introduced themselves to the crowd and spoke about the issues in the forthcoming election.

At 5:00 p.m., Deborah Lynch spoke briefly, outlining the PACT critique of the five year-rule of incumbent president Marilyn Stewart and trying to set the record straight about Lynch’s own record during the three years (2001 – 2004) she served as CTU president. Stewart won the 2001 union election after a four-way race in May 2004 resulted in no candidate getting a majority of votes. That forced a runoff in June 2004, which was won, after a contentious month of accusations of vote fraud, by Marilyn Stewart and her United Progressive Caucus (UPC). Stewart won a second term in May 2007, defeating Lynch and going on to negotiate the current union contract, which ends in 2011. According to Lynch and other critics of Stewart, the Stewart contract has cost the union 5,000 jobs since 2004.

In addition to the candidates running for the top five offices in the union, Lynch introduced her 'Campaign Team' of 34 teachers and other union members from across the city. Lynch told the crowd that the members of the campaign team would be running for other offices on the CTU Executive Board. Traditionally, the union's Executive Board consists of the elected five officers, six trustees, three area officers, and one 'functional vice president' for each 1,000 members in the major groups represented by the union. Although the largest functional groups are elementary teachers and high school teachers, other large groups, including teacher assistants and school clerks, have significant influence in the CTU.

According to press materials distributed on October 23, the PACT Campaign Team consists of the following individuals:

Myrtise Allen-McGhee (Citywide Specialized Services)

Allen Bearden (Bronzeville High School)

Carolyn Carroll (Dyett High School)

Diane Dennis (Julian High School)

Bernice Eshoo (Steinmetz High School)

Allen Bearden (Bronzeville High School)

Susanna Fandl (Hurley Elementary School)

Chuck Feeney (Jamieson Elementary School)

Rosemary Finnegan (City-wide psychologist)

John Foley (Marsh Elementary School)

Julie Gabrick (Darwin Elementary School)

Darine Green-Gates (Parkside Elementary School)

Cynthia Heywood (Vanderpoel Elementary School)

Timothy Kelly (Kennedy High School)

Tanya Leiser (Hanson Park School)

Frank McDonald (Washington High School)

Cathy Manno (Hurley Elementary School)

Lawrence Milkowski (Carver Military Academy High School)

Carol Moriarity (Bernard Elementary School)

William O'Malley (Dawes Elementary School)

Regina O'Connor (Sutherland Elementary School)

Sandy Pardys (Sullivan High School)

Louis Pyster (Retiree Delegate)

Sue Real (Washington Elementary School)

Robert Schubert (Marquette Elementary School)

Marlene Slavitt (North Side Special Education High School)

Cynthia Smith (Hanson Park School)

Joan Springer (City-Wide Hearing and Vision Testers)

Danny Vanover (Taft High School)

Jacqueline Ward (Marquette Elementary School)

Lynch told the crowd that those on the Campaign Team would be running for seats on the Executive Board, but reminded people that PACT would also run a slate of 150 candidates for delegates to the conventions of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. A teacher at Gage Park High School, Lynch became the first former CTU president in the union’s 75-year history to return to the classroom following service at the union’s office.

Lynch’s campaign is especially critical of the way in which Marilyn Stewart has managed the union’s finances and the public policies of the union in the face of Renaissance 2010, the development of charter schools, and other Daley administration initiatives that have eroded union power and teacher respect during the past five years. Above, part of the dinner crowd at the Mayfield can be seen in the background while Josephine Perry (left) and Deborah Lynch (right) await another speaker. Perry displays the PACT platform on the back of her "Stop Million Dollar Marilyn" tee shit. By 4:00 p.m. the parking lot of the event was filled, and people were still arriving at 7:00 p.m. for a meet and greet. More than 200 tickets to the event were sold, according to campaign co-chair Cynthia Haywood, and at one point a Substance count counted 204 people. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.“We left office with $5.6 million in the union’s treasury,” Lynch told the October 23 crowd. Within three years, she noted, Stewart had driven the union into near bankruptcy by overspending, at each point trying to blame the Lynch administration for the problems.

She listed a large number of things that she charges the Stewart administration has lost since taking office in 2004. [See campaign press statement below].

One of the many things Lynch is reminding her supporters of is that she and the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, through the Illinois Federation of Teachers, helped Barack Obama, then an Illinois State Senator, to get the nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat that came open in 2004. "As Illinois Federation of Teachers Vice President," she told Substance "I pushed and goaded the IFT into making an early endorsement of Obama for U.S. Senate. They wanted to wait and were getting pressure from the IFL-CIO and the AFT to support Dan Hynes, who at the time was the favorite of the regular Democratic Party leadership in Chicago and Cook County, as well as most of the leadership of the unions. We prevailed and the rest, as they say is history — real history..."

Large turnout for Lynch launch

The Mayfield event was more than just a campaign rally, although the central activity of the evening was clearly the announcement of the slate by Deborah Lynch and the introduction of the four other candidates. "People were arriving and leaving throughout the afternoon and evening," campaign co-chair Alan Bearden told Substance at 6:30, noting that a couple had just arrived. "There have been at least 250 people here in total during this event."

Co-chair Cynthia Heywood told Substance at the same time that they had sold "at least 200 tickets to the event" but that the final tally hadn't been done when this reporter had to leave. In a press statement distributed during the event, the following was reported:

Past Teachers’ Union President and Team Run for CTU Election... Stakes in May 2010 CTU Vote Higher than Ever

For Immediate Release Contact: 312-890-7713 (October 22, 2009 312-316-0890)

"Former Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Deborah Lynch and the leadership of her union political party, ProActive Chicago Teachers and School Employees (PACT) announced today that they will challenge current CTU President Marilyn Stewart in this May's union election.

"Ms. Lynch, past CTU president (2001-2004), teacher at Gage Park High School, and PACT Chair, said that 'the stakes in this particular union election couldn't be higher. The CTU has lost over 5,000 union jobs in the last 5 years alone under Stewart and 100 schools will be closed by next year. Over 80,000 students will have gone to charter schools. There has also been an egregious misappropriation of over $8 million in union funds by Stewart and her team.'

“'The teacher pension fund is in danger and there has been no vision or leadership coming from the union on such vital and pressing issues as saving our pensions, or on school violence, school turnarounds and member working conditions,' said Tanner Elementary School teacher Josephine Perry, PACT’s candidate for Vice-President. Lynch and Perry spoke at the PACT Campaign Kick-off event Friday at the Mayfield Banquet Hall, 5900 S. Archer, to a crowd of over 200 Chicago Public School teachers and staff supporters, union members who want to see change at the CTU.

"Lynch’s PACT team won the top CTU leadership spots in an upset victory in 2001, when it defeated the union political party in power at CTU for over 30 years. In 2004, in a contentious election which involved charges of vote fraud in the Stewart team’s schools, that party returned to power. The national union [the American Federation of Teachers, AFT], also in the same political party as Stewart, resolved that election dispute in favor of Stewart.

"According to PACT, Stewart has presided over the dismantling of the Chicago Public Schools and the erosion of the power of the once very powerful CTU. 'No Chicago union has lost 5,000 members in the last five years. Ms. Stewart’s team has. Stewart gave up CTU members’ hourly wage for overtime pay, agreed to higher health care costs, and supported legislation permitting 45 new charter schools and she has sold new teachers out by not enforcing the union contract,' Lynch continued.

“'Now more than ever, we need the experience, integrity, strength and strong outspoken leadership of the Lynch/PACT team back at the helm of CTU,' concluded Perry. 'Right now there is no one speaking for the dedicated teachers and staff in our schools, no one countering the attacks on our traditional neighborhood public schools, no one advocating for the working conditions to keep the best and the brightest in our traditional Chicago neighborhood schools. PACT can do those things, and will.'”

Lynch also outlined her platform during the event.

PACT 2010 Platform … Restore Respect!

Automatic class size stipend for more than 25

5% raises and freeze all health costs

Reduce dues

Pensionabilty of overtime/5+5

Daily prep periods for all teachers

Stop school closings/turnaround

Restore after school hourly rate

End officer perks

Aggressive payroll enforcement

Restore transparency

Recoup member’s dues

What CTU members have lost under Stewart…

5,000 union positions eliminated

100 schools closed

82,000 students to charters

Loss of hourly overtime rate

Higher health care costs: co-pays, ER visits..

No union democracy

$5.6 million reserve fund gone…plus $3 mil loan

Unconscionable perks/annuities for Officers & staff

What CTU members gained under Lynch/PACT…

Highest 4-yr raises in 20 yrs

Additional sick days at top steps

5000 FTB CTU members on tenure track

System wide seniority & bonuses for PSRPs

Shorter school year

Lower union dues

Deal stopping school closings…

Aggressive class size enforcement…

Unprecedented Pension Enhancement Program (PEP)

First career service officer

Principal evaluations Respect for CTU members

(www.ProactiveChicagoTeachers.com 312.890.7713).

Complex election rules to be approved in January

Because of the complex election rules and large number of offices elected in the largest union in Illinois, CTU elections require that candidates get as many as 150 union members to run with them. The full slate of candidates also includes elected "alternate" delegates to the two union conventions, leaving each caucus with an obligation to recruit a total of 185 people to run for the various offices that will be contested in May 2010.

Unless the rules are radically changed this year, the CTU will be electing five officers, six trustees, three area vice presidents, six high school vice presidents, 16 elementary vice presidents, three teacher assistant vice presidents, and one vice president for each of the following groups: school clerks; school community representatives; school nurses; hearing and vision testers; guidance counselors assistants; and others.

If the CTU 2010 election is conducted in the same manner as in past years, complex requirements for voting and a lengthy nomination and approval process loom. The rules for the election are not established until January of the election year, based on recommendations of the CTU Rules-Elections Committee, which must be approved by the House of Delegates. Generally, the rules require that nominating petitions for each office be signed by five percent of the members eligible to vote for that office. Hence, if the union has 30,000 active duty (as opposed to retired) members as of January 1, 2010, nominating petitions for the top citywide offices (officers; trustees; area officers) must be signed by 1,500 members.

There are then different signature requirements for each of the other offices that complete the elected executive board. For each of the smaller 'functional' groups candidates must also be nominated, with the number of required signatures diminishing depending upon the size of the group. At the June 2009 meeting of the House of Delegates, for example, the financial secretary's report stated that there were 6,355 dues-paying high school teachers who were union members. That would entitle the high school teachers to elect six 'functional vice presidents.' (one for each 1,000 union members or major part thereof). Each of those candidates would have to get petitions signed by five percent of that group (roughly 320 high school teachers signing petitions on behalf of the high school functional vice president nominees).

Nominating petitions have to be circulated on forms provided by the union (traditionally after February 1 of an election year) and returned signed to the union by 60 days prior to the election. Since the election is May 21 (third Friday in May), the nominating petitions would have to be signed and turned in by March 19 or March 26 (March 21, two months before election day, is a Sunday), a date that will be established by the House of Delegates in January. The nomination period has traditionally run from the first work day of February until the third Friday in March.

Five other caucuses likely to compete for CTU leadership in May 2010

Everyone in the CTU assumes that Marilyn Stewart will hold together the remnants of her United Progressive Caucus through the May 2010 election, which would lead to six slates on the ballot if every announced candidate can quality by meeting the nomination requirements.

By October 2009, five other caucuses had indicated that they would be running for office in the May 2010 election, and at least three of those have the size and organizational ability to go all the way. The other two may also do so. If all six slates (including the UPC) get through the complex nominating procedures, the result would make it the most hotly contested field in the 75-year history of the Chicago Teachers Union. If all five wind up on the ballot by qualifying with enough signatures by March 2010, the complexity of the election will be unprecedented. The size of the ballot alone (CTU traditionally uses paper ballots) will be unprecedented. The most widely contested election in CTU history featured four slates of candidates in the May 2004 election (when Deborah Lynch's PACT received the highest number of votes but not a majority, thereby forcing a runoff with Marilyn Stewart's UPC). A six-caucus race would require a paper ballot that was between three and four feet wide and, in its longest iteration, three or four feet long.

The Coalition for a Strong Democratic Union (CSDU, www.thecsdu.org)

The Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union announced its five leading candidates in May 2009, and the candidates and others have been canvassing schools since August 2009, going to one or two schools per day, according to CSDU leaders.

The CSDU candidate for CTU President is Linda C. Porter. According to the CSDU Web site (www.thecsdu.org), "Porter has been a Chicago Teachers Union member since 1979. She has attended Shoop Elementary School, Morgan Park High School and has received her BA/MS in Physical Education from Chicago State University. She also is certified in driver’s education. Currently, she is the CTU’s treasurer and is presently on a leave of absence from Nicholson Elementary School..."

Until her May 2009 announcement, Porter had been a leading member of Marilyn Stewart's United Progressive Caucus (UPC). By the time she announced that she was running for President, Porter had completely broken with Stewart and was heading a slate of the 'Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union' (CSDU).

In some of the most dramatic moments in the union's 75-year history, Porter joined the opposition in several votes against Stewart's proposals in May and June 2009. In June 2009, Porter, the treasurer of the Chicago Teachers Union, voted against the budget for 2009 - 2010 proposed by CTU president Marilyn Stewart.

Running for vice-president with Porter is Beaubien Elementary School teacher Jack Moran. Moran says that he has been a member of the Chicago Teachers Union for over thirty years and has served as a union delegate for eighteen years. On the CSDU Web site, Moran states: "My vision as the Vice-President of the Chicago Teachers Union is members serving members. The role of the Chicago Teachers Union Officers is to provide the quality of leadership where the members feel that they are being listened too and protected. The CSDU slate of officers will begin by reenergizing the House of Delegates meetings to where all questions are answered honestly, motions debated and acted on and delegates are fully involved in the union business. We will aggressively enforce the union’s contract and protect our membership..."

Lisa Dimberg, the CSDU candidate for recording secretary states on the CSDU Website that she "has been a member of the Union since she began her career in the Chicago Public School System sixteen years ago. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Northeastern Illinois University and holds a Master’s Degree in Reading..." She is currently CTU delegate from Carpenter Elementary School. Dimberg notes that one of the major jobs of the recording secretary is to maintain the records of contract negoations. "As recording-secretary, accurate documentation during contract negotiations is vital," she says, "and the accuracy of meeting minutes is important to ensure that the business of the Union is followed through for the members. Like the other CSDU candidates who come from the UPC, Dimberg is now highly critical of the undemocratic way in which Marilyn Stewart has been running the union.

Jose ('Jay') Jimenez, the CSDU candidate for treasurer, is a school clerk at Wells High School, where he has worked for 16 years. A product of Chicago's public schools, Jiminez says on the CSDU Website that he graduated from Drummond Elementary School and Wells Community Academy High School, returning to Wells High School to volunteer while be was attending Wright College. He is currently a CTU delegate representing PSRPs. Before leaving the UPC, he was selected by the union to attend conferences, including the 2006 PSRP Union Delegates Conference in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). He has been telling union members that CSDU will make sure that the union contract provides the same job protections as are provided for teachers.

The CSDU Website came alive again in September 2009, after a few months of down time, and is being updated regularly. The group has been holding meetings at schools. In early October, Ted Dallas, who is now retired after a bitter fight with Marilyn Stewart, told Substance that the group is going to several schools per week to promote its candidates. CSDU has also been leafleting each meeting of the CTU House of Delegates.

Like Deborah Lynch's PACT caucus, the CSDU lists a long list of people who are active in their work. Since the names don't include the schools or status, the list here simply provides the names as they appeared at the CSDU Web site at press time for this article on October 26, 2009. The CSDU 'Steering Committee (in formation)" includes the following 145 people, according to the CSDU Web site as of October 26, 2009.

CSDU Steering Committee in Formation: Linda C. Porter; Jack Moran; Lisa Dimberg; Jay Jimenez; Lawer Dixon; Ted Dallas; Tony Abboreno; Ira Abrams; Cosmina Aguirre; Lishonnlynn Akporido; Candace Almore; Laura Anders; Roman Andrushko; William Andstrand; Tom Antosz; Jeanette Atlas; Patricia Banks-Griffen; Antoinette Barnes; Vanisa Beasley-Green; Michael Beyer; Karen Blair; Kimberley Boughton; Virginia Brennen; Johanna Brocker; Ann Bromlet; Michael Brooks; Charles Brown; Marilyn Burgos; Linda Calhoun; Kathleen Cantone; Sonia Cebollero; Steve Cembala; Rosemary Chomiak; Marek Ciborowski; Luz Cordero; Janice Corriero; Renee Curtain; Alma Delgado; Joan Derrick; Evelyn Diaz; Lauren Dixon; Jim Draths; Michael Dworak; Judith Ericksen; Walter Ericksen; Norma Estrada; John Evans; Terry Feils; Maureen Forte; Gabriel Fuentes; Lou Gagner; Christine Gertner; Erin Gilchrist; Howard Gold; Wilma B. Gomez; Gorden Newman; Brian Grauer; Jeanette Peters-Gruszeczki; Wieslawa Haber; David Hicks; Robert Hillhouse; Deborah Hirschfield; Keanu Hu; Penny Hudson; Doris Jimenez; Moises Jimenez; Robert Johnson; Francine J. Johnson; Ashaki Jones; Karen King; Katy Kirsch; Ron Kolar; Gregg Koniezcko; Susan Kroll; Antoinette LaPaglia; Harry Lekkas; Mike Levy; Ron Lewan; Maria Lozada; Lisa Macri; Lissette Madera; Elyse Martin; Steve Maty; Patty McNally; Jennifer Medea; Nicole Medea; Minerva Medeles; Diego Medina; Elsbieta Mielcarek; Jolene Miller; Michelle Nelson; Maxine Otto; Maria Pagan-Goutos; Jaclyn Pavichevich; Leticia Perez; Shirley Verdugo-Perez; Peter Pero; Sheryl Phellps; Jeffery Porter; Don Price; Kasi Quist; Ian Randolph; M.L. Rembert; Angel Rivera; Annette Robinson

Frenda Rogers; Adrian Rosu; Chris Rudzinski; Mary Ellen Sanchez; Renaldo Sanchez; Charles Saporito; Judith Schectman; Jean Schwab; Sarah Seymour; Darcel Shelby; Ethel Brown-Simmons; Edna Simms; Mary L. Smith; Jean Sontag; Leah Spee; Martha Spence; Kay Stepkin; Michael Stygar; Christina Suarez; Albera Taylor; Reginald Taylor; Vashti Taylor; Bob Tofilski; Mary Tofilski; Gladstone Trotter; Carmen Valentine; Elyn Koentepp-Vanek; Jorge Vargas; Cliff Wagner; Ken Walczak; Lisa Walczak; Emmera Walker; John Whitfield; Mary Willmore; Dina Williams; Georgina Williams; Rosetta Williams; Wilidia Withers; H. Wojewoda; Melanie Wojtulewicz...

CSDU leader Ted Dallas, along with their presidential candidate Linda Porter, has the greatest experience in organizing school-by-school electoral work. Dallas is largely credited with organizing Marilyn Stewart's two victories, in 2004 and 2007, against Deborah Lynch. The decision by Marilyn Stewart to purge Dallas following his organization of her overwhelming 2007 victory (she got nearly 70 percent of the votes in a two-way race against Lynch) puzzled many observers. By December 2007, Stewart had written to then Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan, telling Duncan in effect that Dallas had been stripped of many of his powers as vice-president of the union, and signing her letter to Duncan 'In Solidarity Marilyn Stewart.'

Like PACT, the leadership of CSDU has long experience in organizing for city-wide CTU elections. CSDU leader Ted Dallas, who was union vice president until he was purged by Marilyn Stewart, is widely credited with orchestrating and organizing Stewart's two victories over Lynch and PACT, in the June 2004 runoff and in the May 2007 general election. Dallas organized the United Progressive Caucus's 'ground game' (the school-to-school organization) that brought Stewart her controversial 2004 victory (one that had to be decided by the American Federation of Teachers following a month-long standoff at CTU headquarters) and the decisive 2007 victory, when Stewart and the UPC got nearly 70 percent of the vote against Lynch and PACT.

As a result of the 2007 Stewart victory, many in the union felt that Stewart and Dallas would be together in the leadership of the UPC forever. By Christmas 2007, however, their alliance had collapsed. In December 2007, Stewart wrote a secret letter to then Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan virtually stripping Dallas of most of his powers to communicate with management. The letter, which was sent the day after Christman 2007, was signed 'In Solidarity, Marilyn Stewart'. As news of the high-level split in the leadership of the CTU came out, Substance began following the stories, beginning with a major story on Page One of the February 2008 Substance [http://www.substance news.net/articles.php?page= 153§ion= Article}.

Substance coverage of the events leading to the eventual expulsion of Dallas from the union led to the revelation that there had been a major split in the CTU leadership during the summer 2007 negotiations on the five-year contract under which the union's members have been working since it was ratified in September 2007. The contract expires in 2011, one year after the May 2010 election. Interviews with those who participated in the negotiations in August 2007 revealed that during the final weeks before the contract was submitted to the House of Delegates, Stewart excluded the other officers from the negotiating process and then cut a deal on behalf of the union with the law firm representing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Franczek Sullivan PC (at that time, not Franczek Radelet). The disagreements immediately exploded into the public eye when Stewart engineered a "Yes" vote on the agreement, partly by refusing to count the "No" votes at the August 31, 2007 House of Delegates meeting. See especially 'Five-year contract narrowly approved after tumultuous battles..' in the September 2007 Substance [http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=424§ion=Article] and other articles between September 2007 and September 2008.

CORE still slating, plans meeting to select candidates

The Caucus Of Rank and file Educators (CORE) has announced its intention to run for all offices, but has yet to announce its slate of candidates. CORE has been a vivid presence on the stage in Chicago school and teacher union politics since its founding in May and June 2008 through militant opposition to Renaissance 2010 and a relentless presence in support of schools that have been targeted by the school board for various forms of transformation. CORE's decision to actively oppose Renaissance 2010 and school closings beginning in December 2008 at Board of Education meetings and across the city made it the most active of the caucuses beginning nearly one year ago and continuing to the present.

CORE has also been building towards fielding a full slate in the May 2010 election. Since a two-day convention in August 2009 (August 21 and August 22), CORE has been developing its platform and bringing forward candidates for each major office and preparing for the election slating. An early announcement stating that CORE would be slating by August 22 was revised when the CORE leadership decided that the rapid growth of the caucus required that the process continue. CORE was scheduled to meet on October 26 at its traditional meeting location, the famous Manny's Deli at Roosevelt Road and Jefferson St. CORE leaders tell Substance that CORE members will vote on all candidates for office within the next two months. CORe co-chair Karen Lewis told Substance that the data for selection of candidates still hasn't been set. She said that the focus of CORE during October has been to elect two CORE candidates for pension board trustee. Jay Rehak, a teacher from Whitney Young High School, and Lois Ashford, who teaches at O'Keefe Elementary School, are both running endorsed by CORE. Throughout October CORE members have been promoting the Rehak-Ashford candidacies through leafleting at more than 100 Chicago schools. CORE has the most developed Web site of the groups opposing Marilyn Stewart, at www.coreteachers.com.

Following the October 30 pension trustee election, CORE is expected to move quickly to formalize its candidates and platform. CORE leaders insist that the lengthy process for developing both their slate and their platform reflect how different CORE, with its emphasis on participatory democracy, is from the other three caucuses that have slates ready to run. With more than 350 dues paying members by the end of October 2009, CORE may also have the largest number of members. (Over the years, CTU caucuses have listed supporters without clearly identifying the strength of the commitment; one measure long used has been caucus members who pay dues). As Substance goes to press for its November print edition, CORE was also busily organizing to challenge the Board of Education at the Board's October 28 meeting. Since CORE began its explicit attack on Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010 program during the December 2008 school board meeting, a growing number of teachers have looked to CORE for new leadership. During weekly meetings over the summer of 2009, CORE had between 30 and 50 people participating in its meetings. As October drew to a close, the CORE Web site (www.coreteacher.org) was the most highly developed of the caucuses with dozens of postings and a complete replication of its history accessible to those who visit the site.

The Independent Caucus

A group calling itself the 'Independent Caucus' has been leafleting the CTU House of Delegates meetings since May 2009, and its members have told Substance that they are planning to slate Marcia Williams, an elementary teacher, for CTU president. As of October 26, 2009, the Independent Caucus Web site listed the following people: About Us- The Independent Caucus Team: Marcia Williams (President); Kyle VanEenenaam (Vice President); Haydia Turner-Stanton (Financial Secretary); and Marilyn Flood (Treasurer). The Independent Caucus lists the following 13 individuals as being "Executive Board Members" without listing their schools: Antoinette Blakeney; Casey Barton; Gloria Cheers; April Hunter; Lester Goss; Lutrissa Hamilton; Stephanie Hansen; Nasim Hijaz; Maxine Jackson; Gwenette Jenkins; Lynn Mickels; William Steele; Robert Stillman; Phyllis Trottman.

'School Employee Alliance' Caucus makes debut in October

A leaflet distributed to the October House of Delegates meeting (listing a Website but no phone number).

A Website (with two names but no phone number).

An cross-caucus endorsement for pension trustee candidates.

In a normal election year in the Chicago Teachers Union, the announcement in October 2009 that the 'School Employee Alliance' (SEA) caucus had made its debut would be nothing unusual. There is no real election season in CTU until the election rules are presented to the House of Delegates at its January meeting, and no real way to measure the size and potency of a caucus until the nominating petitions begin circulating in the schools during the first week of February. Historically, the breaking point for a caucus in the Chicago Teachers Union is the nominating petitions. The massive logistical job (and mobilization to get the required signatures) separates those with enough organization to get on the ballot from those who simply want to communicate some ideas. But the 2009 - 2010 school year is anything but typical in the 75-year history of the Chicago Teachers Union. And so the announcement by a new caucus of its platform and existence — with a skeletal Web site coming on line at www.seacaucus.net — completes any report about the election lineup for the largest union in Illinois and the union that was once the most militant and powerful in Chicago (the basis for that statement, given that the CTU has been in retreat since winning its 19-day strike in September 1987, has to be the subject of a longer article, not this one).

But there are indicators that the SEA caucus has a few things going for it.

By October 24, the SEA caucus had a detailed report on the October 7 House of Delegates meeting. That report, available on the SEA caucus Web site under 'Breaking News', notes that Marilyn Stewart failed to get the House to rubber stamp her endorsements for teacher trustees of the pension fund and then provides an endorsement for two candidates for pension trustee (two to be elected on October 30 our of the six running): Aspasia Demeros and Jay Rehak.

Aspasia Demeros was running as an independent a year after she had run as one of two candidates endorsed by the CSDU. As of October 26, CSDU had not made an endorsement on its Web site. By the time the SEA caucus announced it was endorsing her candidacy, she had also picked up an endorsement from Deborah Lynch's PACT caucus.

Jay Rehak (as noted above) is one of two candidates endorsed by CORE (the other Lois Ashford).

And the United Progressive Caucus (UPC) and the CTU 'Executive Board" (which had never been allowed to make a public endorsement until October 2009 once the House of Delegates had voted have now endorsed Reina Otero and Williams.

With all the caucuses weighing in on the election that ends this week, the stage is now set for the first test of strength for the CTU's pivotal election year. On Friday, October 30, all active-duty teacher members of the pension fund (including charter school teachers who are in the pension) get to vote for two of the six candidates for trustee at elections to be held in all CPS schools.

The SEA caucus lists two individuals — Wilfredo Santana and Joanne Shaw — as co-chairs of the group. No phone number (or school) is provided, so at deadline this article had to rely on the group's brand new Web site.

According to CTU field rep Ted Hajiharis, the group exists.

After Substance called Hajiharis to check on a rumor that he was a founding member of the SEA caucus, Hajiharis told Substance that he had spoken to the group at its meetings, but was not affiliated. He said he couldn't disclose the site of the meetings, or give a reporter the phone number of the main person in the caucus (Wilfredo Santana), but that he was providing information to the new group, just as several present and former PACT members had spoken at a CORE forum on the way in which the union had worked during the years when PACT and Deborah Lynch were in charge (2001 - 2004). Hajiharis told Substance that he had not been a member of the United Progressive Caucus for two years and that he was not a member of any caucus at this time.

[Full disclosure: The editor- in-chief of Substance, who reported this article, and eight Substance reporters are currently members of CORE. In 1984, 1988, and 1994, the Substance editor ran unsuccessfully for CTU president against UPC candidates, garnering 40 percent of the vote for president against Jacqueline Vaughn in May 1988. The editor worked as Director of School Security and Safety during the term of Deborah Lynch (2001 - 2004) at the Chicago Teachers Union, and he subsequently won a major lawsuit to get back pay after being fired by Marilyn Stewart in August 2004. The final result of that litigation was reported in the June 2008 issue of Substance [http://www.substance news.net /articles.php? page=80§ion=Article]. At least two Substance reporters are members of CSDU or listed as part of the CSDU steering committee. At least one Substance reporter is an active member of PACT. No Substance reporter is currently a member of the United Progressive Caucus, although some have been UPC members in the past. No Substance members are members of the Independent Caucus or SEAcaucus. Substance reporters and editors have all been instructed to report as factually as possible, making sources explicit to our readers, on the unprecedented electoral events unfolding in the Chicago Teachers Union.] 

Final edited version of this article posted at www.substancenews.net October 26, 2009, 11:00 a.m. CDT. If you choose to reproduce this article in whole or in part, or any of the graphical material included with it, please give full credit to SubstanceNews as follows: Copyright © 2009 Substance, Inc., www.substancenews.net. Please provide Substance with a copy of any reproductions of this material and we will let you know our terms — or you can take out a subscription to Substance (see red button to the right) and make a donation. We are asking all of our readers to either subscribe to the print edition of Substance (a bargain at $16 per year) or make a donation. Both options are available on the right side of our Home Page. For further information, feel free to call us at our office at 773-725-7502.



Comments:

October 24, 2009 at 8:23 AM

By: Bob

Hat in the ring

Dear Debbie and PACT

At your service.

Bob

October 24, 2009 at 2:34 PM

By: displaced teacher

Change?

It seems like the same old politics for different times. Why didn't Debbie slate a displaced teacher for a candidate. It seems like everyone who is not effected by the recent board actions is running for election. How can they tell me they are going to work for me?

One good example is the recent activity at operation PUSH to address the recent increase in violence is correlated with the displacement and transformation of educational personnel across the that is destabilizing local schools.

I have seen all the other caucuses attend in some form or another either Tuesday evening meetings or Saturday morning breakfast meetings of the PUSH educational task force. At no time did I see any representatives from PACT there.

All the other major caucuses within the union including — Marilyn Stewart — have made appearances at educational task force meetings at operation PUSH.

Just one observation from a displaced teacher.

October 24, 2009 at 10:33 PM

By: What News?

Same old....

When has PACT been at anything that remotely addressed the school closings, turnarounds etc? Oh yeah, when they tagged along for a photo op. How did that group pick it's "slate"? Oh yeah, Lynch made some phone calls and asked people to run with her. She had her chance and blew it, not once but twice. It's because of her that people voted for Marilyn Stewart in droves. Thanks Debbie for giving us Marilyn and co.

October 25, 2009 at 1:34 AM

By: Zeta

Good Grief- Give itn UP!

Thousands of teachers have lost their jobs because of the bad contract Lynch negotiated. SHE started the mess and Marilyn continued on with it. Both of them have done nothing but mess up teachers lives. I hope teachers stay focused and remember what these two self-centered people have accomplished. Absolutely nothing for teachers!

October 25, 2009 at 2:26 AM

By: Classroom Teacher

Reality Check

Blaming Debbie for everthing wrong while not enforcing the contract has worked effectively for Marilyn Stewart and her crew. Lynch has been very active these last few years in speaking out for school staff,communities and children. I've seen her at the events that I have gone to. Like all of us, she is not perfect but give her credit for what she has been doing.

October 25, 2009 at 7:58 AM

By: bob

With Us

With us

The PACT team has been in the schools doing their jobs, like

Teaching SPED at Gage Park a Southside General High School.

The contract negotiated by them was never enforced by the

Present administration. When PACT returns to power the first

Move must be to send all the field reps out into the field

Replace them with new contract officials. Those Field Reps were

And are the, problem

October 25, 2009 at 3:32 PM

By: Retired

Lynch

The blame has to be placed on Stewart and her group. How many times have they been there when teachers are being laid off or fired? How many schools have they saved from fadeouts and turnarounds? You have to look at what they have done instead of what they say. They have lied to us enough and Lynch was a good target but it does not excuse their inactivity or inability to stop the wave of firing and laying off of teachers and staff. Don't listen to what people say- look at what they actually do. I still haven't decided who to vote for but I do know that it won't be Stewart.

October 25, 2009 at 4:08 PM

By: Seen the Light Too Late

It's Easy

Anyone involved in creating Ren2010 or fiddling while CPS burns up teachers' rights does not get my vote.

The current $1000 a year and all the other thousands over the years have proven to be worth exactly nothing. It doesn't matter if the Union fights for 20 prep periods a week, if we're spending those prep periods in the presence of dictators, completing ever-increasing meaningless data-driven reports, rather than using them for preparing for children, those "hard-won" prep periods are more of a negative than a positive.

We are in a brand new world in public education and we need a brand new outlook on labor relations. Job Security is Job One.

The only Caucus speaking to that is CORE.

October 25, 2009 at 5:46 PM

By: anniesullivan

Teacher

ISBE has found that 50 out of 100 CPS schools are not in compliance with special education laws/rules. So what? There are no sanctions against CPS, just retaliation against teachers who report special education abuse. CPS sends out their "compliance clowns" who nit pick about paperwork being in the right order and totally ignore age range violations, horrendous caseloads/workloads, lack of certified staff/support services and skip down the yellow brick road to the next school chanting, “we need to get rid of the Corey H. monitor”

Where is the Corey H. monitor?

Exactly what is the platform of CORE and PACT in regards to special education?

The current CTU leadership has not met with CPS to formulate a plan in regards to the new J-Car ruling which the rest of the state is following. CPS continues to violate state and federal law. There are currently 11 due process cases pending against CPS but this will change nothing.

We, in special education, are in the vortex of a tornado with no Tin Man in sight.

October 25, 2009 at 6:32 PM

By: another classroom teacher

Neither Lynch or Stewart - Support CORE!

This time round it need not be a Lynch v. Stewart rerun. CORE has been speaking out and taking action on issues vital to all stakeholders in public education in Chicago. They also understand the concepts of transparency and democracy within a union and within our schools. CORE supports teachers and families, and they deserve our support in their effort to lead our union.

October 25, 2009 at 7:14 PM

By: Kristine Mayle

Annie, come check us out!

Annie,

I am a member of CORE and a special education teacher. I am also a reporter for Substance. I've read your blog postings for quite some time and know that you are knowledgeable about special education and (in my opinion most importantly) have the students' best interests in mind. Please contact me. I'm working on a story for Substance and could use your help. kamayle@gmail.com or, if you would prefer call the Substance phone number and George will get me in contact with you.

As for CORE's platform on special education... We are a member-driven caucus, so our views are formed by the membership, not by the steering committee, not by what we think will be popular and win us an election or any other factor that doesn't really address the problems. We discuss the problems facing CTU members and come up with proposed solutions together as a caucus. One of the aspects of CORE that I am most proud of is that we educate ourselves about the problems facing schools, teachers, communities, and parents before we decide upon any actions or stances. We look at what has and has not worked in other places and try to develop our own solutions based off what we have learned.

From personal experience, I know that special education varies greatly from school to school. I invite you and all other special education teachers, paraprofessionals, psychologists, social workers, nurses, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and anyone else concerned about the state of special education in CPS to come out to Manny's at 4 pm for our general meeting tomorrow, Oct. 27th and tell us what is happening at your school so that we as a caucus can learn about what is not working for you and any other special education teachers out there. I'm sure we are all facing similar problems, difficulties, frustrations and downright abuses of our students' rights. The more student and teacher advocates we have working on it, the more comprehensive and effective our solutions can be.

October 26, 2009 at 7:19 AM

By: Teacher

Election

One of the most effective ways for Marilyn Stewart to win an election is to divide the opposition. We need to look at who is actually doing something to better the situation and vote

everyone support this canidate and vote.

October 26, 2009 at 11:12 AM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired SPED teacher & Case Manager

Kristine & Anne,

I'm glad that there are people out there who care about SPED and are trying to make it a priority instead of the orphan child that it usually is. I was on the SPED committee at the Union since I started teaching. About two years before I retired, the committee became inactive because it lost its chair and no new one was appointed. When the committee was reactived, I was at the Union for another meeting and tried to check in with the committee. I was told that I was no longer welcomed and that only people that Marilyn selected could attend the meetings. It had never been that way before. Prior to Marilyn, any special education teacher or gen ed teacher for that matter could attend whether they were a committee member or not. I never saw any report of what the committee was doing nor any signs that they were working to help us or to improve SPED in general. This was the turning point for me when I saw Marilyn for what she was--a total dictator.

October 27, 2009 at 1:32 PM

By: Bill

untitled

Sheesh,

I spend twenty minutes typing my debut comment on here and the site wipes it all out because I don't have a "title". Oh well. Here is a condensed version.

Marilyn gets the illiterate patronage vote. CORE gets the communist vote. Debbie gets whatever left. Who wins (besides the Poltrocks)? I don't know but I do know who loses...the rank and file. What a pathetic choice!

I can't believe that this is what's left of the great CTU. I guess I never really appreciated the leadership and vision of Bob and Jackie until they were gone. They never would have allowed this to happen to the once great union and the contract that we struck for almost yearly in the 70's and 80's. What have you got now? No senority rights or job security...lousy pay...expensive insurance...PATs...

When I talk to groups of new teachers I tell them to get a few years of experience and get the hell out of town. There is no future anymore in the CPS. Get a job in the suburbs or a unionized charter.

I guess if I had to vote I'd go for the lefties of CORE just for the entertainment value. What difference does it make at this point? It is time to pull the flush chain on the once great CTU and the CPS. Good luck to those of you who only need a couple of years to get your pensions. You'll need it. Your futures may be in the hands of Jay Rehak and Carol Caref and Jon Kugler if he ever gets another job and is allowed to run.

Solidarity forever.

October 27, 2009 at 2:10 PM

By: Special Education Teacher

Where is he?

Where is Chris R. from Orr?

He was able to fight from the beginning.

He censured Marilyn Stewart for her inaction and sellout approach.

Where is he now? He is a role model for all of us.His honesty and integrity helped us a lot.

Thank you,Chris.

October 27, 2009 at 5:13 PM

By: bob

Only way out

Only one way out. Dear Bill welcome aboard! On a practical note type in Word or, another word processor. Then copy/ paste in the box. You keep a copy and you are done.

Good story but I believe that with some real leadership we can still get out of this mess. However I think we must change tactics and concentrate on local , school by school issues. There are enough Federal laws broken every day that I feel the federal courts must be our battleground.

The Board is picking us off one school at a time we must began fighting back one school at a time. The Board's Law department is huge and their money seemingly endless . But so are the violations it protects. I bet we could find some real good lawyers who would give those hacks a run for their money.

If the various factions now running do not unite under a single banner I feel all will be lost. One thing is for sure, if the incumbents win in May it's over.

October 27, 2009 at 5:14 PM

By: bob

What Happened

I sure did not type it like that!

October 27, 2009 at 7:45 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

A bit of a bug with certain e-mails...

Hello Bob.

You ask:

"What Happened... I sure did not type it like that!"

Truly so. We have a bug for certain e-mails, far as I can tell. I try to get up here as often as possible and fix those that insert those annoyone rr/ characters here and there.

Thanks for commenting, and for using your real address. As I note on the side, all three lines have to be filled (so give the piece a title) but we won't reveal e-mail.

Ever. As in our promise never to burn as off-the-record source in print. This is new territory for all of us, so we're making due. On the Substance budget, this is going pretty well. As we note regularly, all of our revenue comes from subscriptions and donations -- not from the MacArthur, Joyce, Broad, or Walden Family Foundations of funds.

As a result, we sometimes have a few bugs. But...

October 28, 2009 at 9:37 AM

By: Retired Principal

What will happen if the UPC wins?

What will happen to the CTU if Marilyn Stewart and the UPC wins?

October 28, 2009 at 4:59 PM

By: Bob

Rumor

Rumor

I heard a RUMOR this morning from a source that I trust who

Said all the Fenger Security Guards were just fired, and the

Police detachment re-assigned.

Can anybody confirm or repute this?

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