Friday, November 6, 2015

HOD Strike PreparationCTU

Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates Preparing Groundwork for Strike!
By Jim Vail

CTU VP Jesse Sharkey told delegates "prepare to strike."

"We must be prepared to strike," Chicago Teachers Union president Jesse Sharkey told the delegates not once, but three times. "So we are talking about a school shutdown."

Sharkey spoke to a packed crowd of more than 600 CTU delegates on Wednesday, Nov. 4, about the reasons to be prepared to strike because negotiations are going nowhere.

"We will make this city into one large walking demonstration," he said.

The CTU leadership said of over 600 schools represented by delegates in the system, only 18 had not picked up their packets that night to give their members a Contract Poll Practice Vote referendum that was conducted in the schools on Thursday, Nov. 5.

There were four questions that CTU members had to mark Yes or No to:

1) In negotiations, Board of Ed negotiators demand that CTU members agree to pay cuts, increased healthcare charges, elimination of minimum staffing levels and contract changes which will remove hundreds of CPS employees from our schools to help balance the Board's budget. CTU's Bargaining Team categorically rejects these proposals.  Do you agree with the bargaining team?

2) The Mayor and the Board of Ed refuse to stand up to corporations like Bank of America and to super rich individuals like Bruce Rauner who underfund our schools by refusing to pay their fair share in taxes. Should CTU highlight the real cause of CPS budget challenges by organizing boycotts, corporate campaigns and legislative efforts to retrieve that money?

3) Forrest Claypool, Rahm's hand-picked CEO, has earned a reputation as a privatizer and an anti-union manager at the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Transit Authority. He supports school vouchers, charter school expansion, and has made massive cuts to special education and is threatening 5,000 layoffs. Do you support a vote of no-confidence in Forest Claypool as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools?

4) CTU's demands include: A librarian, nurse, art, music and PE teacher in every school, expansion of Early Childhood programs, funded homeless and restorative justice coordinators, strengthening of special education, grievable class size limits, a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all Board employees, limitations on paperwork, improvements to the evaluation system, protection for paraprofessionals, and an expansion of the Grow Your Own program which supports community members who become teachers. Do you support these demands which will strengthen our schools and provide better programming to meet the needs of all students?

I am the delegate at Hammond School. We conducted the vote. Only two teachers did not vote, one was absent. The teachers voted unanimously Yes to every question except number 2. Three teachers voted No to Question No. 2 - to support organizing boycotts, corporate campaigns and legislative efforts to retrieve the money.

The CTU is tallying the rest of the practice pre-strike vote now.

The CTU told the delegates to expect the real strike vote any time soon. 

CTU President Karen Lewis said at the delegates meeting that negotiations are "painful." 

"They keep saying no," she said. "They keep saying you know we have a $1.1 billion deficit. I said ya all opened up a bunch of charter schools. Did you know we have a $1.1 billion deficit?"

"We will win," Sharkey said. "When the teachers move, we move the city behind us."

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