House of Delegates Meeting Starts New Year Strong
By Jim Vail
The Chicago Teachers Union held its first delegates meeting of the 2014 new year.
Vice President Jesse Sharkey delivered the bad news first.
In his address to the delegates on Wednesday Jan. 8th, he acknowledged what many teachers are saying - 'I can't stand this much longer!"
"I hear people say it's time to find work elsewhere," Sharkey said to a crowd of delegates. "This is not the first time. Public education has been under attack for a long time."
How bad is it?
Well, this writer heard that several teachers at one of the schools, that had to receive an influx of students after the mayor closed 50 schools last year, are just not coming back.
Just walking off the job on the northside!
That's how bad it is.
So Sharkey had to show the CTU members some empathy, before he rattled off all the horrible things the board of education has been doing for quite some time.
There used to be payless Fridays, thousands of teachers getting pink slips, the 1995 law that took away the union's basic right to strike (which the CTU supported!), and the Renaissance 2010 plan to open 100 new schools (mostly non-unionized charters or contract schools, some magnets) and close public schools, Sharkey said.
"It's battle fatigue," Sharkey said. "People are depressed. But we can't expect the fight to get any easier."
Sharkey said he wanted to see 2,000 people in the state capital when the next pension bill comes up to cut CTU pensions to mirror what happened recently to the state's workers.
He then fired the first question that union officials kept asking all night - can you raise your hand if you will go to Springfield to protest the upcoming pension bills that Sharkey estimated will cut up to one-third of a retired teacher's future pension.
Sharkey said what happened in Wisconsin in 2010 when the government took away the union's collective bargaining rights and thousands protested in the capital building, "made them stronger."
Made who stronger?
I recall that despite this incredible massive rally of people from all over the country that forced the U.S.president to acknowledge union rights (something he stopped mentioning once he was elected president), the unions killed it.
The unions told everyone to go home and vote.
And who would they vote for? Some pathetic democrat who mirrored Chicago mayor Emanuel in many ways. Which didn't matter, the state re-elected republican governor Scot Walker who everybody protested against.
And ask union members in Wisconsin how much money they're losing each time they need to 'bargain' - strike that - 'beg' individually. It's horrible!
So the bad news was then replaced by Ms. Anecdote president Karen Lewis.
She still keeps them laughing in the union hall.
This was her first story of the month to start the new year for the delegates.
"I didn't realize the power of Twitter," she said. "I just got you two days off."
Lewis said while the board of ed still refused to close the schools the day before facing one of the coldest days in Chicago last Monday, Lewis started to tweet and criticize the board for allowing children to go out in the extreme cold weather.
She said CBS News picked up her tweets, and suddenly the mayor was facing another pr nightmare. The CTU was merely doing its job by voicing concern after many teachers and parents were calling in asking why CPS was keeping its schools open.
The mayor then attended a press conference announcing that the schools would be closed.
"I want to take full frickin credit for it," Lewis said to loud applause and laughter. "I can't look at the mayor without laughing at him."
More on what happened at the House of Delegates meeting to follow.