Many of us have been following the situation with the tentative contract out in Chicago closely. Some out there feel it is the best possible contract they could achieve under adverse circumstances while others believe it falls far short of a decent contract and will lead to further deterioration of working conditions. As a UFT member who served for a decade on the UFT Executive Board and still serves on the Delegate Assembly, I find Chicago's House of Delegates' debate on their contract to be at least somewhat democratic.
In coverage from Substance we learn that while the debate lasted only 17 minutes, the number of speakers for the contract in the debate actually equaled the number of speakers who opposed the deal. Nobody had to call a point of order to demand evenhanded debate. In a moment that would be stunning in New York City, one of the leaders of the ruling Caucus of Rank and File Educators, Sarah Chambers, spoke out against the agreement.
The Unity trolls in New York who comment here say that Unity's loyalty oath style unionism, where if one wants to be in the caucus one must vote as the leadership instructs, is the way every union operates. The truth is it does not exist in Chicago. People are free to vote as their consciences and/or the members in their school guide them.
CTU Delegates even agreed to extend debate before someone pulled a Unity and abruptly made a motion to end it after what I would argue is an insufficient 17 minutes. However, this motion carried easily so a huge majority was satisfied. The House of Delegates then voted by about a two to one margin to recommend the deal and now it is being voted on in the schools by the membership at large.
Many in Chicago are not happy with their proposed contract. However, compared to New York, they still have at least some sense of how union democracy is supposed to operate.