UNION NEWS, CHICAGO... Pressure grows inside Chicago Teachers Union to challenge union endorsement of Hillary Clinton as support for Bernie Sanders becomes more and more obvious...

With fewer than three weeks to go before the Illinois primaries (March 15), pressure is beginning to grow within the Chicago Teachers Union to have a vote on the union's candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. A growing number of CTU members are supporting Bernie Sanders (including this reporter) while the union has already been forced, through a "back door endorsement", to back Hillary Clinton.

It's only been since 2016 began that most of the 1.5 million members of the American Federation of Teachers learned that they had been supporting Hillary Clinton with their dollars and other resources for months. After what critics called a "phantom poll," AFT President Randi Weingarten (above left) got the union's 45-member Executive Council to endorse Clinton a year before the November 2016 general election. By early 2016, supporters of Bernie Sanders across the union were crying Foul! and organizing for change. AFT photo."Back Door Endorsement" of Hillary Clinton? WTF might that be?

Six months ago, the leaders of the 1.5 million member American Federation of Teachers, of which the CTU is the third largest preK-12 local, voted to endorse Hillary Clinton, after AFT President Randi Waingarten conducted what amounted to a loaded push poll and came out of it claiming the AFT supported Hillary. Weingarten took the information to the AFT Executive Council (which includes only one person from the CTU) and rammed through the Clinton endorsement. Since then, AFT money and support has gone to Clinton, even as questions about her record on education and labor have increased and Sander's support has surged.

At public schools all over Chicago, the fact that the union's resources were already going to Clinton was become more and more known during February 2016. And with Illinois voting on March 15, the question of the CTU's position became more important. As a result, members of CORE (the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators, which has been leading the union since July 2010) are expected to consider the issue at the caucus's February 22 meeting after school at Chicago's Letter Carriers union hall at 39th and Wabash.

The refusal of many unions to support Clinton is based on her own record and the fact that she has taken ownership of the "Clinton legacy" from the time that Bill Clinton was President of the Untied States. Despite the attempts by some to whitewash history, Bill Clinton's right turn towards what were called the "New Democrats" was the first national thrust towards the most odious tenets of corporate "school reform." Despite the attempts by some liberals to portray the George W. Bush administration -- and "No Child Left Behind" -- as the beginning of the assault against public schools and teacher unions, the big three Clinton "reforms" of the 1990s mark that beginning: housing reform, welfare reform, and school reform are the well documented reactionary attacks on working class, poor, and union people and all were products of the Bill Clinton administration.

Recently, the AFL-CIO leadership has noted that the struggle between Clinton and Sanders is too close to call on behalf of the federation's members. As a result, the AFL-CIO has not endorsed:

Union Chiefs Put Off Endorsement, Giving Hope to Sanders Campaign


Feb 17, 2016 6:47 pm ET


AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks at a breakfast in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Sept. 1, 2015. ENLARGE

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks at a breakfast in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Sept. 1, 2015. PHOTO: CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

The nations top union officials will huddle next week to talk politics, policy and organizing at the AFL-CIOs annual executive council winter meeting, but they wont be voting on whom to endorse for the oval office a relief for Bernie Sanderss presidential campaign.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, Americas largest federation of unions, said in a statement Wednesday that no endorsement will occur at the San Diego meeting.

Hillary Clinton has received the lions share of national-union endorsements so far, raising the possibility that the giant federation would throw its backing to her as well.


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Black Voters Lift Hillary Clinton Over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina -- Poll

Union Chiefs Put Off Endorsement, Giving Hope to Sanders Campaign

Mr. Trumka said Wednesday in his statement that the AFL-CIO has been clear that we have an endorsement process in place, and that we will continue to follow that process in accordance with our Constitution.

Whats not clear, however, is if that means the group hasnt reached the level of support it needs to give a candidate a nod, or if it has but is choosing to delay an endorsement given the division among some union leaders and rank-and-file members about who to back.

Many unions have endorsed a candidate, and many have not, Mr. Trumka said. He added that the federation will continue to encourage affiliated unions to pursue their own deliberations with their members and come to their own endorsement decisions, if any.

In a letter Mr. Trumka sent to AFL-CIO general board members Wednesday, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal, he said recent discussions with many of them had led him to conclude that there is broad consensus for the AFL-CIO to remain neutral in the presidential primaries for the time being.

Larry Cohen, a top adviser to Mr. Sanders who is charged with winning support from union leaders, said the grassroots-driven campaign has had a surge that will only be helped by the AFL-CIOs inaction.

The lack of an endorsement at next weeks meeting means that union members and other working Americans are not going to be facing a coordinated campaign from the AFL-CIO for the other candidate, Mr. Cohen said. Its a green light for people to do what moves them, and thats what democracy looks like.

For months, Mr. Cohen has worked to win union endorsements for Mr. Sanders, or at least keep unions on the sidelines while the Vermont senator makes his case. The campaign has had some success, winning support from the National Nurses United and the Communications Workers of America, for example. Local union affiliates have also endorsed him, which Mr. Cohen says reflects grassroots enthusiasm for his candidcacy.

Mrs. Clinton has won far more national-union endorsements than Mr. Sanders has and has gained support from some of the giants, including the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Though union membership has dwindled over many years, union endorsements can generate much-needed votes for Democratic candidates. In addition to the money unions spend on elections, union volunteers knock on doors, make phone calls and send social media messages in support of mostly Democrats.

Mr. Trumka said hes looking forward to a robust discussion in San Diego next week as the country debates who should be the next president. Raising wages will be a key part of the federations 2016 agenda, and its promising to hold all politicians accountable to that, he said


February 20, 2016 at 4:38 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Sanders Endorsement

I agree that the CTU should endorse Sanders. I think he has a much better chance to beat Trump than Hillary does at this point and that's what's important. I think it is more important to have the right person as President than to have a woman as President.

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