Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Delegates Vote Yes April 1st

Chicago Teacher Delegates Vote for One-Day Strike
By Jim Vail
Special to

The delegates voted 486-124 for a one day "job action" Strike. United we must be!

A majority of Chicago teacher delegates voted for a one-day strike on April 1st in which 486 voted in favor and 124 voted against (full disclosure I am a teacher delegate).

The vote was a testament to the popularity of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis. Despite a controversial vote in which many teachers for the first time were actively questioning the union’s strategy at the special house of delegates meeting March 23, the majority of teachers lined up to back the leadership.

“This is never going to be easy,” Lewis told the delegates. “The internal workings of the union don’t need to be in the Tribune.”

Several delegates reported that their schools were not in support of a one-day strike because teachers wanted to go on a “real” strike in which they will stay out until a new contract is agreed upon.

Other teachers expressed concern that the leadership did not communicate the idea of a one-day strike to the teachers which had led to a lot of confusion by calling it a “job action.”

A testament to the CTU was the display of real democracy in which the delegates debated and voted on an action that directly challenges the power structure.

The CTU leadership said the strike, while originally planned to protest a 7% pay cut after Chicago Public Schools threatened to eliminate the pension pickup but backed off, was about the lack of revenue, and the need for the state legislature to fund the schools with progressive taxation making the rich and stock traders pay up.

So far CPS has refused to go after the banks or bondholders who are being paid penalties and exorbitant interest rates on borrowing costs. Instead, they are demanding teachers and schools take a big hit.

“On April 1st it’s foolish to do nothing,” CTU VP Jesse Sharkey told the delegates. “I said buckle up your seatbelts, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

The CTU lawyer said that there is actually no precedent on ruling on the legality of such a one-day strike action during negotiations. The one-day strike is technically based on an unfair labor practice when the board of education took away teachers’ annual raises.

A number of delegates who said they would vote in favor of the one-day strike said cutting the schools budgets and laying off teachers necessitated the action.

Most delegates who spoke against the measure did say their teachers would support the union should it decide to picket and not report to work.

“We go out together and we come in together,” Lewis said.

So April 1st there will be no classes and teachers will be picketing outside their schools before heading downtown to a rally for state funding in the afternoon.

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