Sunday, December 6, 2015


By Jim Vail

Many teachers remember police officers wearing stickers that supported the Chicago Teachers Union when it went on strike in 2012.

That strike, a clean affair when you consider nasty strikes in the past filled with scabs, slashed tires and police beatings, has suddenly called into question the next possible teachers strike.

One delegate asked the union leadership at last week's December House of Delegates meeting to delay the strike vote in the wake of a major police brutality scandal. 

The CTU marched with the protesters last week who were filled with rage after a Chicago police officer shot a black teenager sixteen times, who never even posed a threat, according to the video released. The police had tried to cover-up the evidence in a Burger King videocam, but the city was finally forced to release it and charge the officer with first-degree murder.

The mayor is on the ropes. First he said the video was horrible without even seeing it, then he pleaded for calm and tried to defend his top cop, and then he fired the police superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Now the police union is upset with the We are One coalition that protested and the CTU.

While one person asked to delay the vote, and another delegate voiced her opposition to a resolution in the house to support a Civilian Police Accountability Council, nobody else challenged the CTU's stance with victims of police brutality.

The resolution passed convincingly and everybody applauded CTU VP Jesse Sharkey's words on the eve of a major strike vote this week.

"You can look at our relationship with the cops first, and then there's our relationship with the parents and students," Sharkey told the delegates. "Then you turn on the news and see a cop shoot someone in the back. So we have to try to be balanced here."

"I want to say have you seen the video," said CTU recording secretary Michael Brunson. "He was walking away. The leadership of the CTU is not against the Chicago police. We're against murder. This isn't anti-police, no, this is anti-murder. There's a federal investigation of the police. That's not us. We have to do what's right. We can't allow something like this to divide us."

In fact, there was no mutiny, no real division in the house.

Perhaps politics play a big role. There is no organized opposition right now in the Chicago Teachers Union. Certainly in the old days another faction may have exploited this and called for the CTU to not pass the resolution.

The CTU gave instructions to the delegates for next week's strike vote that will take place beginning Wed. for Dec. 9, 10 and 11.

Sharkey also told the delegates he had no idea how the strike vote was leaked to the media.


  1. I don't think this is fully accurate. The entire Q&A session was dominated by delegates who were pushing back on the union for participating in the Black Friday rally.

    Now, it's true that at most one of those teachers spoke against the resolution, but it's also true that a number of people walked out of the meeting when it came time to debate this motion. Sharkey called from the podium twice for those people to stay and debate: once at the end of Q&A, and at the beginning of the debate on the Resolution.

  2. I stand to be corrected by the number of delegates who questioned the ctu's resolution to hold the police accountable to the community. I missed the very beginning of the q&a and did not notice delegates leaving the room before the vote. But i stand by my report there was no organized resistence and mostly a bunch who were perhaps not pleased with the commendable stance the ctu took.

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