Protesting Toxic Swaps Ain't Gonna Do ...
By Jim Vail
The Chicago Teachers Union is protesting toxic interest rate swaps that they say have cost the city over $100 million.
At last month's Chicago Board of Education meeting, union reps said the board of education should file for arbitration to potentially get back $440 million on the grounds that the banks did not deal fairly with the district, Substance News reported.
Now, first and foremost, kudos to the CTU for raising this issue loud and clear - how the banks who entered into fraudulent interest rate swaps are now bankrupting cities across the country.
But to ask the very people who represent the banks - government officials such as CPS board trustees appointed by the mayor - is like asking the wolf to stop sneaking into the hen house at night.
Sorry, ain't gonna happen!
Now let's look at the protesting.
Protesting is a funny thing. I used to be marching up and down streets when I first got involved with this union when I saw the previous leadership was doing little to stop the privatization of the schools more than 10 years ago.
I also marched the streets to protest our wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.
You feel good to be involved in a fight for something better.
But then I took a closer look at the organizers and decided something wasn't quite right.
In the case of protesting two disastrous wars, I noticed that the big organizer of the first Iraq War was the democrat party. When it came to protesting President Barak Obama's Afghanistan War, not many people were marching the streets. Suddenly, it was the democrat's war and no longer was there any massive organized resistance (I still protested with scores of true blue anti-war people!).
In the case of protesting school closings, it felt good to finally do real active union work that had seemingly been neglected under the previous administration.
And in many ways, it worked. Suddenly, the city under former mayor Richard Daley (remember him?) had to acknowledge the unfairness of supporting charter schools at the expense of funding neighborhood schools. God, they had to actually address that question that the old union was supposed to have assured the mayor would not be a problem.
But, the city under the neo-liberal blanket regrouped and have been on the offensive ever since.
The CTU organized school protests, and yet the next mayor Rahm Emanuel still closed a record 50 schools!
How did that happen?
I once again looked at the organizers and tried to answer that question. I see that the mayor was on a 'mission' from the 1% to destroy public education. The fight was real.
The CTU earlier went on strike and gained some concessions - the mayor fought back and closed 50 schools.
The protests did nothing!
So now the CTU, along with two other unions, is protesting Loop Capital, that has extracted "through risky interest rate swap deals" over $100 million from the city's public schools.
Again, they are asking that the city of Chicago renegotiate the loans and alleviate the funding crisis.
Do you think Mayor Emanuel will have a change of heart and listen?
Especially when the CTU is endorsing democrats who are rubber stamping these toxic swap deals and not demanding the banks do anything.
May it be because many of these officials get political donations from the very funds that rip off the city? Mike Madigan? Pat Quinn? All CTU endorsed politicians, all receiving big bucks from hedge funds and other investment interest groups.
If the CTU was serious about challenging the toxic loans, they would organize their 29,000 + members to boycott Chase Bank or Bank of America, who are up to their ears in setting up toxic loans that have helped to bankrupt municipalities across the country.
Believe me, money talks!
That is, if the organizers are really serious about the fight.