FACTCHECK: Kim Bowsky and Drew Heiserman challenge Tribune's support for the 'Coalition to Save Our Union'

At least once a day from now until the Chicago Teachers Union votes in the May 17 union election, Substance will present FACTCHECK, a way of checking (with a nod to the Blackhawks) the nonsense that is being said and published by the candidates of the so-called "Coalition to Save Our Union." As reader know, the Chicago Tribune, one of the most anti-union newspapers in the USA, has provided a large amount of space both in its "news" and in its "opinion" pages covering the antics of Tanya Saunders Woffe and the people in what many CTU members are calling the "Salvation" caucus. Because most teachers and other union members are too busy with their jobs to FACTCHECK every lie or misleading claim that's said, we will help.

Chicago teacher Kim Bowsky (foreground) was one of more than 100 CORE members and supporters who joined Karen Lewis and the officers at the campaign kickoff on April 29, 2013 at the Haymarket pub in Chicago. Substance photo by Howard Heath.On May 10, 2013, the Tribune published two letters to the editor challenging the claims made in a lengthy "Perspective" it had recently published from Tanya Saunders Wolffe. Here are the letters from Kimberly Bowsky and Andrew Heiserman, both classroom teachers:

May 10, 2013

Union business

This is in response to "My challenge to Karen Lewis" (Perspective, April 26), by Tanya Saunders-Wolffe, a counselor at Jesse Owens Community Academy on the Far South Side. Why is the Chicago Tribune newspaper a venue for proselytizing Saunders-Wolffe's contention for the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union? Do other unions try to convince the public of their need for a change in leadership, and to whom does a newspaper give such an airing? Why should the public, most of whom do not belong to my union, be involved in our election — unless Saunders-Wolffe and the Coalition to Save Our Union are getting support through publishing their platform and grievances through her advertisement?

The Coalition to Save Our Union got major media play months ago as Debbie Lynch introduced the opposition to the current leadership. Karen Lewis launched her campaign in public recently. Barely a major outlet noticed.

Saunders-Wolffe has the right to opine as a citizen about any issue she wishes. The Tribune publishes what it wants. I call into question why the interests that run the paper have published her appeal but refuse to research the claims of representatives of the Coalition to Save Our Union to give a "fair and balanced" report to its patrons.

Both of my sisters-in-the-union, Lewis and Saunders-Wolffe, will have a more appropriate place to campaign for leadership: among our other union members. Campaigning can be grueling and has been known to be dirty. Does the Chicago Tribune have to contribute to this?

— Kimberly Bowsky, member, Chicago Teachers Union

Lewis support

I was disappointed to open the Tribune and read the opinion piece "My challenge to Karen Lewis."

I am a math teacher in the Englewood neighborhood, and your readers should know that Lewis and the rest of the Chicago Teachers Union officers have the full support of the vast majority of the teachers and staff who work in the Chicago Public Schools. Our union is active, united and democratic, and I am proud to be a part of it.

I'm proud to have a union president who has the intellect and political skills to battle the mayor.

The teachers, parents and students of Chicago desperately need people like Lewis to lead us as we fight to save our schools and communities.

— Drew Heiserman, teacher, Englewood High School, Chicago


May 12, 2013 at 11:41 PM

By: Jay Rehak

The Tribune's anti-unionism is not worth reading.

While it is unfortunate that the Chicago Tribune published Ms. Wolfe's diatribe against the President of the CTU, it comes as no surprise. No self-respecting fish should be caught wrapped up in a Chicago Tribune and hopefully, no union members reads that anti-union publication. The Tribune needs to be avoided by any self-respecting worker. Never a reason to give the Chicago Tribune either one's time or one's money.

May 13, 2013 at 4:05 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Tribune busted one CTU, longs to bust the big one

Thirty years ago, with the help of most of its reporters and editors, the Chicago Tribune busted its strongest union -- the CTU (for Chicago Typographical Union). The Trib's attack on unions has been lifelong. In the eyes of the Chicago Tribune, the only good union is a company union. That's probably why the Tribune loved the Chicago Teachers Union after the CTU stopped striking in 1987 and eventually proclaimed the leaders' love of so-called "school reform" under Tom Reece, beginning with the Amendatory Act in 1995 and the onset of mayoral tyranny over the city's public schools.

Those who read the Tribune need to be reminded that many of the current leading lights at that newspaper earned their present perches to pontificate for the plutocracy by crossing picket lines: in other words, they are scabs. The leading among those scabs was John Kass, who was a young reporter living in Logan Square when the challenge happened. He guaranteed his future by scabbing. The rest is history.

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