Former union president claims 'CTU members won nothing from the strike....' Deborah Lynch Valentine's Day email foreshadowed creation of new CTU opposition 'coalition'

Five days before a group of Chicago Teachers Union members hosted a media event to declare their opposition to the current leadership of the union in the 2013 election (which will not take place until May 17), the tone and content of the group's attack on the leadership came to many people's attention in an email distributed, with the support of the Chicago Board of Education, to hundreds of union delegates and other school leaders.

Former Chicago Teachers Union President (2001 - 2004) Deborah Lynch (above, during a 2009 budget hearing on Chicago's South Side) supported Karen Lewis and CORE in the 2010 election, but changed her allegiance for the 2013 election. Lynch retired as a classroom teacher from Gage Park High School a year ago and is now working as a college teacher. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The email was sent by Deborah Lynch, who is now retired from her teaching career, working as a college professor, and nominally the head of the PACT group. Lynch served as CTU president from July 2001 through July 2004, when she was finally sent out of the union's offices following a contentious struggle over the results of the 2004 election, which she and her group lost to Marilyn Stewart and the UPC. After losing a runoff election in June 2004 to Marilyn Stewart and the United Progressive Caucus (UPC), Lynch announced that she was not leaving the union office because there has been voting irregularities. She was finally ordered out of the union's Merchandise Mart offices by court order in late July 2004. Stewart and the UPC took over the reigns of union power for two terms, until they lost the June 2010 runoff to Karen Lewis and CORE.

On February 14, 2013, Lynch sent an email to the remaining people in her PACT group (and some she considered "independents") asking them to support her former adversaries, the UPC, in a new coalition. The decision announced by the former union president to join ranks with her former adversaries was at first viewed with skepticism by many. But it was confirmed by Friday, February 15 -- and more so confirmed when some of the remaining Lynch PACT loyalists appeared with her former UPC adversaries at the union's Merchandise Mart offices to hold a press conference on February 19, 2013. The media event announced the formation of "The Coalition To Save Our Union."

In a possibly unprecedented events, both Chicago daily newspapers covered the media event by the Coalition To Save Our Union, with the Chicago Tribune placing the story on its front page on February 20, 2013.

Many union members, including this reporter, consider the fact that Lynch helped promote the media event as one of the reasons it received some coverage from the city's corporate press. Otherwise, the question arises: Why are Chicago's media interested in a local union election a month before anyone can know for sure who the candidates are? The union election isn't being held until May 17, and the nominating process had only begun on February 20 when it had become front page news.

On February 19, when the self-proclaimed leaders of the newly formed "Coalition To Save Our Union" stood outside the union's offices, the union was still five weeks from knowing which candidates had actually qualified to be on the ballot in the upcoming election. The election itself, to be held on May 17, is 12 weeks in the future. Both CORE (led by Karen Lewis) and the "Coalition" (now led by Tanya Saunders - Wolffe) are required to get signatures on nominating petitions from the union's active duty members between now and the end of March. Until the day the nominating petitions are submitted -- and vetted for authenticity -- there is no CTU election contest. As the 2010 election proved, anyone can announce a candidacy. Fewer will qualify to be on the ballot, and fewer still will get enough votes to prove authentic candidates. History shows that it's best to wait until the actual caucuses exist enough to be on the ballot.

Take the most recent election, in 2010. In February 2010, six "caucuses" announced that they would run for office, including the caucus (the UPC) led by the then-incumbent Marilyn Stewart. Of those six caucuses, one (the so-called "Independent Caucus") failed to get on the ballot. The other five qualified for the ballot, and of those none garnered the necessary 50 percent of the vote to win decisively in the May union election. Three groups -- the "Caucus for a Democratic Union" (CSDU); the SEA (School Employees Action); and PACT (ProActive Chicago Teachers) ran behind the pack in the May voting, and the final runoff was held between CORE and the UPC. Contrary to what the new opposition has told the press on February 19, CORE won the June runoff decisively, with more than 60 percent of the vote. The email, which Lynch dispatched on February 13 to union leaders at their schools via their CPS email addresses, reads as follows:

From: debbie lynch Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2013 09:56:59 -0600

Subject: Invitation to Join the Coalition/Slate to Save Our Union


Dear Fellow Delegate,

Because of our concern about what is happening in our union, PACT has participated in the establishment of a Coalition with members of the United Progressive Caucus (UPC), some independent CTU members, and some former CORE members to run a slate of candidates in this election. Each of the major Coalition caucuses is recommending half the slate, with a commitment

to including Independents on the ticket. We are writing to ask you if you would be interested and willing to join our slate of candidates for this May's CTU election.

We have formed this Coalition because of deep concern over the future of our union under the current administration. Here are just a few of those concerns:

Deborah Lynch and her "PACT team" negotiated the union contract in late 2003 that required two votes to ratify. Lynch worked to stop the union from going on strike for a better deal in November and December 2003. Above, Lynch and the union's officers during the 2003 contract negotiations. Left to right, Treasurer Maureen Callaghan; Financial Secretary James Alexander; Recording Secretary Jacqueline Price-Ward; Deborah Lynch; and Vice President Howard Heath. Jacqueline Price Ward and Howard Heath, like a large number of former PACT members, are now supporting Karen Lewis and are active members of CORE. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.1. CTU members, who struck in good faith, won nothing from the strike. The union may have won the PR fight at the time, but the mayor won the contract fight. The members did their part, but the leaders failed to deliver in the contract.

2. Four year raises under Lewis have been: 0,3,2,2 considering the cancelled raise of 2011. Even this year’s 3% isn’t really that as members are working longer days and a longer year. The "raise" is really a 3% pay cut.

3. The Lewis group gained office over the expansion of school closings, yet were unable to stop the proposed school closings of 2012 and, when they had the power when members were on strike, agreed to a contract with no moratorium on school closings. Now, after they squandered their chance when they had the city at its mercy, they want you to do protests and sit-ins.

4. The value-added evaluations in the REACH system, agreed to by Lewis, which gives principals more power than ever before, and has been severely criticized by researchers across the state nationally as an unreliable measure of teacher effectiveness, now dictates teacher job security.

5. Lewis also agreed to a frightening CTU Employee Discipline Policy (see HR4U at which gives principals even more power than ever to go after teachers and terminate them after 4 warnings.

6. The Wellness Program has raised alarms over biometric health ratings and their potential use by the employer, employee privacy rights, and the financial burden on members if they refuse to participate.

7. The Lewis administration's protest and rally approach is counterproductive and has not resulted in any wins for the membership. They have little credibility with state legislators after Lewis accused them of tricking her and changing agreed upon language in the problematic Senate

Bill 7 legislation, as can been seen in the CPS unanimous win over delaying the school closures announcement. No one listened to the CTU.

8. The Lewis/CORE confrontational, adversarial approach with CPS is harming members in their grievances and hearings. CPS representatives have been sworn at by Lewis appointees and have left meetings because of it, destroying any chance to findings solutions to member problems and concerns.

9. The Lewis administration has come right out and stated that the CTU is “not a service organization anymore". Members are feeling the lack of support and responsiveness when they try to get help from the union. This group is more interested in organizing community groups than serving their own members.

10. Our pensions are in great jeopardy, and with lessened influence and credibility in the legislature, and an IFT leadership which showed in its support of SB7 that it did not have the interests of CTU members, we don't have the power we need to fight back.

11. This contract gave away seniority as the only consideration in layoffs as now it is performance-based and member rights to the reassigned teacher pool are too. The time in the reassigned pool has also been cut in half.

12. CTU members have lost the morning elementary preps, the Pension Enhancement benefit, the banking of up to 300 sick days, and more. We have also lost thousands of positions to the growing number of charter schools.

Because of your leadership in our union and obvious commitment to it, we hope you will consider joining the Coalition and our slate. Please let us know if you would like to discuss this further. If you provide your contact information and a convenient time to reach you, one of us will get right

back to you.

We are in a fight to save our union and hope you will join us in that fight.


* *

*PACT Steering Committee/Coalition Candidates,*

Mary Ellen Sanchez, Delegate, Byrne Elementary School

Kelly McFarlane, Delegate, Washington High School

Loretta Balsam, Morgan Park High School

Frank MacDonald, Delegate, Washington High School

David Arredondo, Delegate, Washington High School

Kevin Condon, Delegate, Stevenson Elementary School


February 21, 2013 at 7:20 AM

By: Bob Busch



Well I got accepted as a sub yesterday, 11 months and 7days after my application was received.

Now it’s on to drug tests, no problem there, background tests, I’m good, Tb test and

all the rest. Hopefully in about ten days I will be back in the saddle.

From what I heard at the “Sub Fair” a real sub shortage exists. I have to find out what

kind of union group I am now eligible to join .I am glad that I marched with the union

last September since it kept my streak alive, not too many of us left who have been in

every strike.

Most of my family and friends think I am nuts for heading back into the lions den.

But I tell them I am a teacher, healed now after my by-pass operation and I want to

see if I still got the juice.

I have been partial to the PACT caucus and do think at first glance the contract

came up a little light and SB7 still gets me angry. But those are specific complaints

for which I am sure there is a reasonable answer from CORE and a promise to be

more vigilant down the road.

What I will never forget is the pride I felt watching the ‘Kid Teachers”

on the picket line last September. CORE has brought us back from the edge.

UPC hacks and misguided PURE members are all DOA .It will come out

who is really backing them, a certain law firm comes immediately to mind.

If the contract is not perfect I would like somebody to remind me of one that

was. This is a fight for public education, the soul of a city and its in good hands.

In all my 41 years, and counting, with CPS there are only three people to

whom I would say this: “If you go to hell I will drive you “and Karen Lewis

is one of them.

February 21, 2013 at 7:53 AM

By: Kimberly Bowsky

Running for Election

There will be debate and disagreement over the points in her letter, but I wonder at the need for Dr. Lynch to come back when there are current CTU members to promote their slate. Retirees are a valuable resource, but most of them stand side-by-side with us current workers, not OVER us.

February 22, 2013 at 6:07 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Crazy hypocritical troll comments deleted...

One of the joys of editing Substance and is that the Trolls and crazies keep trying to comment without following any of our rules for Comments. And so they are deleted, even if their rantings, ragings, and red baitings sometimes stay "up" for a few hours. Like the one I just deleted. From a guy who has an obsession about Karen Lewis and George Schmidt. Quite unhealthy, but I am just going to hit DELETE and not pay for his psychiatrist. Although we will organize and fight for Medicare -- or in his case, Medicaid -- to cover at least out patient treatment for crazies and trolls.

February 22, 2013 at 7:02 PM

By: Ed Hershey

Tribune's Free Propaganda for UPC and PACT

I agree with Busch, the contract was not perfect, we lost quite a bit in fact, and members are frustrated with the longer day, evaluation, wellness plan and other things we gave on.

But seriously, what credibility does UPC have? They did no more than give lip service on closings, while CORE actually fought them.

UPC's "services" were no less frustrating than the current "services" -- it's a huge union; I understand running all the grievances is a tall order.

The contract Lynch herself negotiated was, from what I've heard, poor enough to make her a one term president. I don't understand her motivation for throwing in with UPC.

I 2nd Busch's sentiments, whatever disagreements I may have with CORE and Lewis, she lead a hard fight -- about as hard as could be made. And our contract, while not great, seems to have been better than what's been imposed a lot of other places.

This "opposition" just got a bunch of free publicity thanks to Ms. Ullah-Ahmed. A lot of the members at my school (we have a lot of new teachers at Lindblom) hadn't even heard of UPC before her piece landed on the front page.

I used to respect Debbie Lynch. This move of hers has made me think otherwise.

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