Chicago Teachers Union votes overwhelmingly to move towards a strike in October at September 7, 2016, House of Delegates meeting....

The 27,000-member Chicago Teachers Union moved a major step closer to an October strike when the union's House of Delegates (of which this reporter is a delegate, representing some of the 3,000 retired teachers who are CTU members) voted overwhelmingly "Yes" on a major resolution outlining how the union will take another strike authorization vote and prepare for a strike.

There was a massive media presence outside during the House of Delegates meeting. In a pre-meeting press release, the union announced that the delegates would move towards a strike even before the 800-plus delegates had debated and voted on the resolution (which passed almost unanimously).

According to the CTU resolution, union members will vote in their schools on September 21, 22, and 23 -- using an unprecedented "petition" format which will require each voting member to effectively make the vote public. The union's leaders, who had not secured approved of the resolution prior to the meeting, were committed to the virtually public method of voting, as opposed to the secret ballot format which has been used in every CTU strike vote except one since the first union strike in 1969. Although a number of pretexts were put forward for the un-secret voting by three of the four union officers and in the HOD materials, the issue was never debated. As soon as possible, the leadership cut off debate, ignoring the widespread dissatisfaction with the unprecedented "petition" format.


September 9, 2016

Strike re-authorization voting Sept. 21-23

On Wednesday, the Union's House of Delegates voted unanimously to conduct a strike re-authorization vote, and virtually the entire governing body raised its hands when President Lewis asked how many schools have experienced multiple layoffs, principal resignations and teachers leaving CPS to teach in other school districts. Our members are angry at going nearly two years without a contract, cuts to special education, librarians and athletic programs, rising class sizes and attacks on our standard of living by the mayor and CPS CEO.

The re-authorization vote is an exercise of our legal right to strike over the terms and conditions of our employment, and over unfair labor practices committed by CPS. In order to prevent the mayor and governor's labor board from declaring our December 2015 vote illegal, we will take this preventative action. The vote will take place via petition in all CPS schools from Wednesday, Sept. 21 through Friday, Sept. 23.


Chicago Teachers Union leaders to set stage for second teachers strike



September 7, 2016 312-329-6250

CHICAGO-The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and its House of Delegates will announce the next steps in its contract fight. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked Board of Education have demanded a 7 percent decrease in take home pay for teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians. In addition, the Board has rejected nearly all CTU contract proposals that are good for students and their families. Union leaders will announce new developments in the contract fight and the path ahead.

WHO: CTU leaders, President Karen Lewis, Vice President Jesse Sharkey, Recording Secretary Michael Brunson, Financial Secretary Maria Moreno, members of the Union's Big Bargaining Team, school delegates and others.

WHAT: Will conduct a press conference to discuss the next steps in contract talks with the Chicago Board of Education and what impact these talks may have this school year; delegates will discuss whether teachers should strike this year.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 7, 2016

6:30 pm. (approximate time)

WHERE: International Operating Engineers Hall, 2260 S. Grove St.

WHY: The CTU is insulted by the Board of Education's demands, and maintains that the city of Chicago has created a $1.5 billion fiscal crisis in order to justify its ongoing neglect and failure to address critical needs of students. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is "broke on purpose" said CTU President Karen Lewis, and the mayor is "lying in wait" to raise property taxes and implement regressive taxes on vital services to working families. Teachers may strike for a second time since Rahm Emanuel took office, should the Union's House of Delegates authorize a strike in the coming days.


CPS, union clash as school year opens

Contract elusive as teachers go back to work

By Juan Perez Jr. and Dawn Rhodes, Chicago Tribune

The public battle over a new contract was the principal topic for leaders of Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union on the district's first day of classes.

City and union leaders staged competing appearances for TV cameras at schools Tuesday, as private bargaining between the sides intensifies amid talk of a strike as early as October.

“We have a very generous proposal on the table, a generous raise for teachers who deserve as much as we can give them — given the difficult finances the district faces,” district CEO Forrest Claypool said, following an appearance with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new annex at Edwards Elementary on the Southwest Side.

“We're hoping they'll say ‘yes' to a raise,” Claypool said.

The union, however, has argued that not all of its members would see a net pay increase over the life of a contract that CPS proposed last winter. A Chicago Teachers Union bargaining team rejected the offer, according to the union.

CTU President Karen Lewis wouldn't predict whether there would be a teachers strike but said the union and district have a long way to go in negotiations to replace a contract that expired in June 2015.

“We're not that close yet,” Lewis said outside King College Prep after greeting students. “We always tell our members to prepare (for a strike). There is that chance, but I can't give you odds. I don't have a crystal ball.”

Lewis did not elaborate on which issues are sticking points. Union leaders have told members they plan to hold another strike authorization vote.

Despite characterizing the contract talks as “affable,” Lewis nonetheless had some pointed criticism for Claypool.

“The only time there's acrimony is when Forrest Claypool gets on TV and starts talking madness,” Lewis said.

She also attacked Claypool for saying that the union's demand that the district continue to pick up 7 percent of the teachers' pension requirement was out of whack with other districts in the state.

“He's lying,” Lewis said. “There are some districts that pick up as much as 10 percent. Forrest Claypool, bless his heart, doesn't know that much about what's going on everywhere else.”

Lewis alluded to Claypool's previous tenure as head of the Chicago Transit Authority in her ongoing critique of his job as schools chief.

“He's good for trains and buses, maybe, but not so good for human beings and certainly not good for kids,” she said.

A deal will hinge on whether the two sides can find consensus on cost-of-living raises and other benefits.

“The talks will intensify this week,” Claypool said. “And we're going to be there every single day that the teachers union is willing to talk. ... I think we have the opportunity to come to a deal.”

Claypool said Lewis' comments didn't affect the chemistry at the bargaining table.

“A deal is going to be reached based on the economic package, and also the quality-of-life issues that I think we've thoroughly addressed — that the teachers union has asked for years and that we've offered,” he said.

Lewis said the next few weeks would be critical for negotiations, as leadership gets a better idea of what struggles teachers are experiencing in the classroom in the midst of the district's budget crunch.

“These are complicated issues that will ultimately be solved,” Lewis said.


September 8, 2016 at 4:58 PM

By: Rod Estvan

yet again Broke on purpose

CPS and the City are not broke on purpose they are broke because they failed to raise taxes commensurate with total expenses for years and years. It goes back even before Richard M Daley becoming Mayor.

As we all know the progressive forms of taxation much discussed by the CTU are not granted to CPS under the existing school code and will not be granted to just CPS. Therefore, the General Assembly which would have to modify the taxing authority of school districts will not authorize any of these progressive taxation proposals. The lobbying power of the numerous interest groups impacted by the CTU's progressive taxation proposals are simply too powerful to overcome, in other words it won't happen.

Other than the TIF pot, CPS has only property taxes to lean on and it has done so. In fact rather than go to the Chicago electorate to vote up or down a property tax rate increase above the cap to shore up the Chicago Teachers Pension fund, CPS went to the General Assembly for additional taxation power. Most likely CPS did this because the citizens of Chicago might have voted down a property tax increase.

Whatever compensation increases are provided to unionized workers in CPS, whether won by a strike or at the table without a strike, will have to be paid largely for by either borrowing or the existing unprogressive taxation system. That is the situation and it is not a reason for teachers not to ask for reasonable compensation either.

But this stuff about broke on purpose is really pointless. The wealthy in America are powerful, owners of corporations or their stock holders are always going to attempt to contain their taxes and more often than not will keep them low and make the poorer sectors of society pay more than what is equitable. The socialist revolution in the USA is not around the corner either, even with the vote Sen Sanders got in the primaries.

Rod Estvan

September 8, 2016 at 6:21 PM

By: Edward F Hershey

Valence of Rod's Comment


your comments here (and on the District 299 blog) are always grounded in materialist reality.

However, I don't know that the defeatist politics implied at the end help move us forwards.

The district did not get enough money to adequately fund education -- that is purposeful behavior on their part.

Broke on Purpose just is not the problem.

Do you have a better slogan that points up the fact that the leaders will not fund working class education in this city?

September 9, 2016 at 8:15 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Rather than broke on purpose

Yes Ed, how about "broke without a solution". Claypool has no solution and he wasn't brought in to create one his job is to just keep the system up and put forward on a yearly basis some patched together educationally fraudulent budget. Ultimately this is the problem.

The current CPS attempt to extract ever greater concessions from the CTU does not provide the money needed for stabilization and is causing a massive exodus of experienced teachers who are in their 30s and early 40s along with competent principals who have also left.

A big part of the solution is for a rational and fair implmentation austerity that is not based on politics linked with a long term schedule of predictable tax increases that will exceed the current property tax cap. CPS needs to understand it is more and more isolated in Springfield and it's not just Republicans who are against a bail out.

The solution to the crisis also isn't to be found in mass privatization because those costs are not fixed either and will continually increase based on the normal logic of the profit motive. But the CTU also has to realize charters are here to stay and they have their own fiscal crisis that requires rational public oversight. It has to be accepted that it took probably 50 years to get this deep in the hole and it will even with an extremely rational approach it will require 20 years to get out of it. Maybe if the citizens of Chicago realize the long term property tax increases they will be facing more radical taxation proposals will gain traction and overcome the massive lobbying interests against them.

The teaching force needs to be preserved In all of this and it's collapsing right now, too many good teachers are bailing out. CTU has been in denial about this and it has even impacted CORE militants. Even Substance is avoiding dicussing how many high quality teachers and strong unionists tha have been lost this year.

I mean really the CPS budget includes a 105 million dollar vacancy factor for positions that will not be filled in the 2016-2017 school year. Other than in my annual budget report this vacancy factor has never been discussed, a bogus vacancy factor is actually noted in the CPS budget book, but the real one was in the Interactive budget program lines. Then of course there is also the bailout of families which will become probably more clear once we see the 20th day enrollment numbers.

Rod Estvan

September 10, 2016 at 12:34 AM

By: George Cruz

Strike Coming Week of Oct 10

CPS is sitting on $949 million credit line, plus an additional $1.5 billion in capitol funds, plus there is $489 million sitting in TIF accounts. Money is earmarked for school construction even though enrollment is down, expansion of charters, expansion of patronage bureaucracy and conflict of interest cleaning contracts. But the school distract has no money for students, classroom and teachers. This is what happens when you have an unelected school board that isn't responsible to the demands and interest of the taxpayers. The financial crisis wasn't caused by teachers nor their pensions, but by poor fiscal mismanagement for over a decade.

What's very interesting is CPS latest offer of trying to split the union by offering to pay teachers pension pickup on steps 14-16 only. I doubt the CTU would consider that latest offer . Either way , it's dejavu all over again as the 1980s has returned .

September 10, 2016 at 8:57 AM

By: Jean Schwab

I agree with George Cruz

CPS has mismanaged the funds they have and caused this problem. It is amazing that someone like BBB could have gotten away with so much -right under their noses. So many examples of waste!

September 10, 2016 at 6:02 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Chicago has the money -- for what Chicago's ruling class really wants...

The struggle for adequate funding for Chicago's public schools has been going on as long as Substance has been publishing. And we began publishing in print in 1975! I remember once, during the 19890s, talking with then "Dean of Education Reporters" Casey Banas about the CPS budget and how we should report on every nickel and dime CPS was wasting needed to be reported -- whether it was on unneeded bureaucracy or on various projects that always (then as now) went "over cost." Banas gave the Tribune's answer: "I'm not interested in the nickels and dimes."

Bullshit. I was interested then and still am now.

American society has the money for what its ruling class wants. "We" prove that every day from federal to state to local spending. Every time I drive over one of Mayor Daley's designers brick crosswalks or try to navigate around those absurd planters down the middle of many larger streets, priorities are clear. And of course all we need to do is drive to a parking space (privatized) or a parking lot (privatized) or on a Skyway -- and we have more reminders that we are looking at ruling class priorities.

Chicago's communities need both decent policing and decent schools. To play off one against the other -- as Teachers for Social Justice's main people are doing -- is a lie. Bad analysis of ruling class policy and terrible politics.

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