Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Second City Teachers Endorses CORE
By Jim Vail
May 15, 2013

This Friday teachers and aids across the city will either re-elect Karen Lewis and CORE to continue leading the Chicago Teachers Union, or oust her in favor of an old group under the new name Coalition to Save the Union.

The CTU is on a roll and they show no signs of letting up.  

Second City Teacher predicts Lewis will be re-elected to continue as president of the CTU.

Second City Teacher also endorses the current CORE leadership team to continue the fight they began in 2010 (for full disclosure, I served on the CTU executive board but did not run on the CORE ticket in this election.).

But the endorsement comes with certain reservations and a call out to everyone to think about the future.

There is no doubt that the CORE team came out like gangbusters to capture the country's headlines by fighting back with the biggest teacher's strike in the country last fall.

That strike helped win a better contract that held off merit pay (where teachers get increased compensation based on test scores), retained lane and step salary increases that many unions lost out on, held the line on health care costs, and put some teeth in the new teacher's contract.

To think that it took a massive strike, when close to 29,000 CTU members walked off the job last September, just to get certain provisions back in the contract, showed how demanding the opposition is in its attack on teacher unions.

I personally thought the strike, while powerful in and of itself, did not stop one of mayor Rahm Emanuel's most odious demands - two foul balls and you're out!

In CTU contract language for teachers, that means if you receive two basic ratings - or two satisfactory ratings in the old contract language - you automatically become an unsatisfactory teacher and will be dismissed.

The new contract does state that teachers can appeal the ratings, but boys and girls, look for a rash of massive firings over the next few years when this baby comes to light.

Word has it that the mayor - or rather the 1% who put him there - would not budge on this.  Well, who won that fight?  

I was a bit surprised that the strike ended so abruptly.  I also noticed that the strike ended exactly when the 1% said it should end, as the corporate-backed media started running anti-union stories the second week, and both the mayor and CTU president agreed the strike should be over.  

But that is not to take away the fact that this union organized a massive strike that captured people's imaginations.

But was it a real fight?  Is CORE ready to fight the real fight?

Here is the reason why Second City Teacher will endorse CORE and Karen Lewis in Friday's election.

CORE has shown it is willing to fight the privatization of public education - namely charter schools.  

Vice presidential candidate Mark Ochoa, who served as financial secretary of the old United Progressive Caucus, said it loud and clear in the debate last week - it seems CORE is against charter schools.

Really Mark?  Are we supposed to follow the American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and continue to support charter schools because that is what the ruling class wants?  That is what the machine democrats want?

Does it matter that charter schools are merely privatized services to oust unionized teachers so they can pay teachers less, and give banks and others more public monies?

That is the whole reason behind the so-called "under-utilization" lie. Bill Gates and others are giving Chicago and other cities lots of money to open charter schools and destroy the teachers union.

Now, here is what the opposition caucus tried to get across in their message.

We are going to make deals at the top and save jobs.  We have proven that getting along with the mayor will translate into a world of far less pain than what is in store for you with another three years of CORE.

Presidential candidate Tanya Saunders Wolffe did say she can negotiate better in the "suits" than the streets.

But it was fighting in the streets that gave us unions and worker protections in the first place.  

The current AFT and old UPC deals were only a slow, painful downward slide for unions.

Perhaps CORE's fire can really catch on and reverse the massive attack on workers in this country?

Of course, that is one tall order.  Here's to a CORE victory, with the hope that ALL public school teachers and supporters will fight the fight to save public education!


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