Friday, July 20, 2012


There is a fantastic piece in the UK's Guardian about the labor dispute between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.  This article should be read by every teacher, particularly those who believe we can't change the union.  Here is an excerpt:

The basis of this dispute (in Chicago) is what is innocuously termed "school reform". This is a process of privatisation and union-busting. Since the 1990s, Chicago has been a laboratory for such reforms, which have been rolled out across the country. The programme enjoys the support of the Democratic leadership as well as leading pro-Obama liberals such as Davis Guggenheim, whose film Waiting for Superman was a lengthy attack on teaching unions and a tribute to private schools.

Chicago intends to open 60 new privatised, non-union "charter" schools in the next five years. Public schools are being closed to make way for this change and capital spending has been slashed. The CTU's new leadership has been driving a campaign to tackle chronic underfunding in Chicago schools, and broaden the curriculum. They describe the system as one of "educational apartheid", and demand an elected school board which reflects the needs of the city's population.

But the final provocation was when the "reformers" increased teachers' working hours by 20%, while cutting a promised 4% pay rise in half. They falsely imagined that the CTU would be a pushover, having recently elected a bunch of "rookie" candidates to the leadership.
In fact, the victory of these "rookies", from the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), demonstrated two things. First, it showed the unwillingness of members to be as compliant as the leadership has been in the past. Second, it proved the new leadership's ability as grassroots organisers. They showed the same skill in building support among teachers for strike action in a series of mock ballots and mass public meetings.

We are fully behind the Chicago Teachers Union and their president Karen Lewis.


Anonymous said...

The Chicago Local # 1 is leading the teachers union fight against the ed reform movement period. The AFT which meets next week in Detroit hopefully will receive an earful from Karen Lewis the CTU president. With the mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel and their schools led by former NY educator Brizzard a strike would seems plausible. But, would President Obama want a teachers stike two months before his re-election? Could you imagine his position of either siding with or going against the teachers? My bet, Randi Weingarten will back door the process and a settlement will be reached between the CTU and the Chicago administration. Karen Lewis will loose her local if she allows Randi to compromise the members strike vote.

Anonymous said...

This would be a valid analysis,
except for the problem for your interpretation being that the CTU is thoroughly organized from the bottom up,
not from the top-dawn, as you see in many other unions.
The CTU rank and file won't go quietly with a Weingarten initiative to roll over and give in. Look at how the union rejected the arbitrator's report.

Anonymous said...

It's do or die for teachers in Chicago and if they lose, we're all done

Anonymous said...

Just read ednotes online and it appears that Randi and Mulgrew are buddying up with the CTU people. As I mentioned on this blog watch as Randi manuevers the CTU and will make a tough speech but do little in the way of militant action to back the CTU. Karen Lewis should watch her back and front with R&M.