Thursday, May 9, 2013

Delegates Updated on Latest Fight
By Jim Vail
May 9, 2013

The Chicago Teacher Union delegates met Wednesday, May 8 to discuss the latest news coming out of 125 S. Clark Street before hearing the candidates debate for the May 17 CTU election.

CTU VP Jesse Sharkey told delegates during the Question and Answer period to closely look at the school budgets next year because the formula has been changed on funding the schools that will take into consideration the number of students attending.

CTU President Karen Lewis said the CTU would not take a position on the current pension bill because it affects mostly downstate teachers, which is the reason why the Illinois Federation of Teachers has endorsed the bill.

She also said the IFT is against a "cost shift" which would tie pensions to the school districts.  The state currently pays into the teachers' pensions; however, Chicago is funded by the city.

During the moment of silence period for teachers who just recently died, it was noted that three teachers taught for more than 40 years, including who taught for 44 years at Ryerson School, and another who, after 40 years of service, died just after retirement.

The CTU said they are planning a major three-day citywide march for education justice to stop the school closings Saturday, May 18, Sunday, May 19, and Monday, May 20.  Almost 80 percent of the over 400 delegates raised their hands to state that they would march.

One delegate asked that the candidates debate move up further in the agenda.  However, the motion was overwhelming rejected after Lewis explained that there would be plenty of time for the debate because the regular house meeting would conclude early (it did).

Sharkey added during his report that CPS backed out of an agreement and fired 30 teachers in the IB program (he did not mention the school, though The Reader reported it happened at Lincoln Park High School), and that the union will file a lawsuit.

Sharkey then touted the union's recent victory in which 87% of the UNO Charter School teachers voted to form a union.

"We spent too much on lawyers," he said.  "We need to spend more to stop charter schools."

One way, Sharkey said, to stop charter schools is to organize the teachers.  However, the charter school teachers cannot join the CTU, and therefore do not have the 29,000 member bargaining strength to negotiate a similar CTU contract with better pay and
benefits for its members.

Lewis wrapped up her report on the pensions.

"We need to move on a minute's notice for any pension alert," she said.  "We may all have to go down to Springfield."

Another Wisconsin battle is what is necessary in a country where the government and its elite sponsors continue to attack working people.


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