Lewis, Sharkey and their allies make a move to give Chicago Teachers Union a dictatorship of the President, officers, and appointed 'staff'...

It's been nearly a decade since the current leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union were in the classroom and part of the "rank and file" the put them into power in the $23 million Chicago Teachers Union. Back in the early days of the 21st Century, teachers like Karen Lewis (then at King High School) organized and spoke out regularly against Chicago Public Schools spending at the Board's annual budget hearings, as Lewis is show doing in 2009 (above). Since their re-election in May 2016 unopposed, Lewis and her small number of leadership colleagues (most of whom are appointed staff) have spend more and more of the union's dollars on pet projects that were never submitted to the members who pay more than $1,100 per year in union dues, while ignoring year after year the corruption and waste in the Board budget they once analyzed carefully and spoke out against forcefully. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Should the President of the Chicago Teachers Union be given the constitutional power to do whatever she decides, without bothering to consult the union's House of Delegates -- which is the elected body representing the union's members in Chicago's roughly 600 public schools and branches? That's what the current President, Karen Lewis, and Vice President, Jesse Sharkey, are asking the members to allow as part of a large package of proposed amendments to the CTU Constitution and By-Laws now under discussion.

Although there was some discussion of the moves against rank and file democracy by the current leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union at the sparsely attended "briefings" on September 26 and September 27, 2017, at the union's headquarters, the ability of the leadership to pack the meetings with paid staff and hand-picked Executive Board members meant that there would be no serious discussion of the moves by Karen Lewis and Jesse Sharkey to install what amounts to an unprecedented dictatorship over the CTU's 25,000 members and 800-member House of Delegates.

The most dramatic example what a growing number of members are calling the "attempted coup d'etat" by the current leadership is a proposed Constitutional amendment that would give the union's president, for the first time in the union's 80 year history, the power to make decisions no matter what the delegates and members say or want. One of the proposals to be discussed next week at the HOD and then voted on by the members would give the president the power to interpret the Constitution without consulting the HOD.

Since the current leadership was elected to its third term after running unopposed in May 2016, Sharkey and Lewis have moved to consolidate an unprecedented amount of power in their own hands and in the hands of the union's "Executive Committee" (the union's four officers plus the chairman of the Trustees). Although the officers and Legislative Director Stacy Davis Gates had already been pouring large amounts of money into favored candidates and community groups without consulting the HOD or later informing the members in any way before May 2016, when the leadership ran unopposed in May 2016 and began their third term on July 1, 2016, they abandoned any pretense of the claims about "rank and file democracy" and "transparency" that had originally brought the CORE caucus into the leadership of the CTU in July 2010. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of direct and indirect union money has since been given to political candidates, politicians, and community entities without any input from the delegates from the schools or the members.

If and when the House of Delegates and the members approve the upcoming amendments to the CTU Constitution and By-Laws in October and November, the caucus, CORE, that took power around a program of direct action for the rank and rile and radical transparency will have brought the union to the lowest point, in terms of actual democracy and transparency, since the Great Depression.

Whether that takes place depends on whether the union's delegates, some members of the Executive Board, and the members reject the moves now on the agenda as proposed by the current leadership.


September 29, 2017 at 3:40 PM

By: Jim Cavallero

"attempted coup d'etat"

Just as I commented on in the story about there being a constitutional proposal to have a chief of staff, I don't know who told you this or why they would. There is no such proposal to give the CTU President "the power to make decisions no matter what the delegates and members say or want."

Do you really think the Executive Board reviewing these proposals would allow that? Also the work is being done by all members of the Executive Board. Not "handpicked" members. Every night this week the meetings were well attended and we had a quorum.

October 1, 2017 at 1:03 PM

By: Jo-Anne Cairo

Constitutional Proposals

I attended the meeting on Tuesday evening 9/27/17 and only one person who wrote a proposal attended. Where any of the other 16 people who wrote proposals notified about the meetings on Tuesday / Wednesday notify? When executive members, asked questions, others did a lot of double talk to squash the questions. Again the meeting was started late and the usual rush through things was apparent,

Isn't obvious that the Executive board has been hand picked.

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