Karen Lewis to speak at Labor Day rally in Chicago's Daley Plaza... September 3 at 10:30 in the morning

Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, will be one of the featured speakers at the large Labor Day rally to be held on Monday September 3, 2012 at Chicago's Daley Plaza. The event, sponsored by Chicago's labor unions, marks a major step forward for the unions that had given away almost all of their militancy and most of their power during the past decades. Lewis is preparing to lead the CTU into the first teachers strike in a quarter century.

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis (above, speaking at the May 23, 2012 rally at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre) will be the featured speaker at the Labor Day rally in Chicago's Daley Plaza on September 3, 2012. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.A Chicago Teachers Union press release elaborated on the event and on the current CTU position:

"Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis will be joined by local labor leaders during a 10:30 a .m. solidarity rally at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington on Monday, September 3. The rally comes one week before more than 26,000 teachers, clinicians and paraprofessionals plan to go on strike for a fair contract and more school resources on September 10. This will be the first such walk-out in 25 years.

"Rally speakers will include, Michael Shields, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Robert T. Yager of the United Auto Workers Local 2320; AFSCME Council 31 President Henry Bayer; SEIU Local 73 Treasurer Matt Brandon; Mack Julion, president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11; Robert Reiter of the Chicago Federation of Labor; Jitu Brown of the Kenwood Oakwood Association; Jan Rodolfo of the National Nurses United, Bill McNary of Citizen Action, and others.

More than 3,000 CTU members and supporters, wearing "CTU Red", filled the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago for the May 23 rally. Outside, thousands more gathered for a second rally in Grant Park. The mass rally inside and outside were followed by the march of 10,000 people through Chicago's Loop which ended at LaSalle Street, Chicago's Wall Street. On the left in the above photograph are Substance editor Sharon Schmidt and retiree delegate Brian Sullivan. Substance photo by Howard Heath."CTU supporters will flood Daley Plaza with a 'sea of red,' Union organizers say, and other members of other trade unions will represent their organizations with their colors and signage.

“'We are fighting for the soul of public education and public institutions in general,' said Lewis. 'Public workers have been vilified and blamed for all that’s wrong with our economy and nation. An injury to one is an injury to us all.'

“'Rather than focus on ending the destructive policies that have drained neighborhood schools of their resources and set them up for failure the Board chooses to attack our collective bargaining rights, alienate parents and community and demoralize our students. And by the way, 6,000 students were impacted by CPS’ disruptive school actions just last year. Public schools are a public good and we must fight to preserve them, strengthen them and support and educate our children who attend them,' she said.

"Lewis and her bargaining team of rank-and-file members have been in contract negotiations with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) since November 2011. With more than 50 bargaining sessions under their belt, Union negotiators say the District has failed to address some of the bigger contract disputes such as pay, job security and resources for students. CTU was able to win contract language that will guarantee books and supplies on the first day of school and ensure educators and students have access to working computers.

"CTU leaders are hopeful that a strike can be avoided, however, if issues are not resolved by midnight September 9, teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians have prepared their families, schools and colleagues for the strike action. The last teachers’ strike lasted 19 days."

One of the major new groups supporting the CTU in the face of the upcoming strike is the "Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign," which sponsored a rally at the Chicago Temple across from City Hall the night before the CTU House of Delegates meeting that voted for the strike. Below is the latest information from the Solidarity Campaign:

"A diverse coalition of local community organizations, labor activists, parents and students who support the Chicago Teachers Union in their fight for quality education.

"Description... The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign believes that teachers' working conditions are our students learning conditions--and that educators must be justly compensated for their work. The campaign also supports the CTU's call for a fully funded education system, smaller class sizes and an enriched curriculum with art and music, as well as wraparound social services.

"Blaming teachers for the problems of CPS is a distraction from the real problems facing our schools — from chronic underfunding to the huge economic and racial disparities in Chicago. It's also destructive. It's time for Mayor Emanuel, Schools CEO Brizard and the Board of Education to meet the challenge of funding quality education for all Chicago's schoolchildren.


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September 1, 2012 at 2:41 PM

By: Jay Rehak

See you at the Historic Labor Day Rally

This year's Labor Day Rally at 10:30 in the Daley Plaza will be historic. I am hoping all of my colleagues throughout the City show up wearing red, and encourage everyone (including their neighbors) to come and wear also red.

Let's recognize the time we are living in for what it is: A pivotal moment in history involving people vs. money.

I hope and pray we have enough people on Monday so no well funded outside group can buy advertising that can honestly claim the CTU is divided or the community is not with us.

Every working person and their family should come to this event. It will be historic. I'll be there with my family. I hope to see you there. I know the Whitney Young delegation will be strong. The rally is going to be huge. Everyone who is healthy enough to get there should do so.

To paraphrase President Kennedy: "We are all CTU members."

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