Sunday, August 18, 2013


Last weekend progressive educator groups from all over North America met in Chicago to be part of the Coalition of Rank and File Educator's (CORE) social justice union conference. My wife Camille and I were there as part of a ten person contingent from New York's Movement of Rank and File Educators.

While I certainly do not agree with everything that was said during the three day gathering, I sat there in amazement as one of the leaders of CORE in Chicago explained how they were able to mobilize tens of thousands of teachers for last year's strike and for election as well as reelection. CORE's campaign themes and organizational ability are very impressive.

An unbelievable 90% of the Chicago teachers voted to authorize a strike and then eight months after the strike, close to 80% of the voters reelected the CORE leadership team for another three year term of office leading the Chicago Teachers Union. About 80% of the eligible people voted in this year's CTU election. Unlike New York City, I learned in Chicago that retirees do not participate in active teacher union elections throughout most of the country.

Another highlight for me in Chicago was to be able to hear CTU President Karen Lewis speak in person. She addressed a number of themes including how important it is for teachers to work with parents to safeguard public education.

Xian Barrett from CORE addresses conference; next to him is Beth Davies, President of National Union of Teachers UK and Karen Lewis, the President of the Chicago Teachers Union

If we are to win back our dignity, it will take a united labor effort nationally and locally.  If last weekend's conference pushed that momentum a little, then it truly was worth it.

A full report from the conference is here at Labor Notes.

Chicago students do a series of readings at the Heymarket Memorial


NYC Educator said...

Thanks for representing us, James.

James Eterno said...

Thanks Mr Educator. They could have benefited from hearing your views for sure.