Friday, April 15, 2016

CTU Cancels Elections

CTU Cancels Elections - Karen Wins Again!
By Jim Vail

The delegates agreed with the Chicago Teachers Union leadership to cancel the next union elections because there is no opposition running and they would save $300,000.

The debate was a no-brainer and the delegates voted unanimously to endorse the motion and thus Congrats to Karen & Co. - the CTU leadership team continues.

Karen Lewis is still president, Jesse Sharkey is vice president, and Michael Brunson is recording secretary. The one change is Maria Moreno is the new financial secretary.

The one question I as my school's delegate had, really more a point of information, was how would it look to cancel elections. The idea always wrangles people.

Of course, what are elections?

In the case of the CTU, it would appear that the leadership is doing such a wonderful job that there is no need for a change.

I would say not so simple.

Of course the corporate media tried to use the fact that 126 delegates broke ranks with the leadership to vote against the April 1 strike, concluding that these delegates disagree with the leadership and the union could be divided.

The union is not divided. The fact that only 126 delegates voted against the one-day strike was actually evidence that the delegates support their leaders because the arguments made in the house were actually very persuasive to vote against the action. Over 450 delegates voted in favor of the one-day strike.

Lewis is a popular leader and the teachers like her.

Not everyone, of course.

But any healthy democracy should have opposing forces. There should be other parties competing against each other to lead.

But having contested elections does not automatically mean good things for the people. 

To field a party to challenge the current leadership one would need petitions with lots of signatures. One would need to fill a slate that would openly challenge the leadership with over 150 names.

Not easy!

I look back to when Core first won the election against the entrenched UPC party and that was because the UPC was divided and five parties contested to lead the union.


Many smelled blood. They were either ousted - Ted Dallas was formerly UPC's vice president before the president Marilyn Stewart fired him, and he formed a party, others were opportunists and former employees who smelled blood - Ted Hajiharis, and then there were two true parties who worked hard to forge a better union - Core and Pact and Debbie Lynch.

Core was able to attract many former Pact members by doing more to fight the corrupt former leadership and do union duties that were not being done, like actively fight the school closings and speak out at school board meetings.

So just to run a party in an election and thus have an election is not enough.

There should be a legitimacy. If the teachers no longer believe in the leadership team, then plans will be made to field another party and openly challenge it.

Having an elected school board is no guarantee that life will be better. 

When asked about the elected school board, Blaine Principal and activist Troy LaRaviere said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with whom he has battled continuously, was elected.

So elections are one thing.

Who runs is important. Is it a real choice, or a rubber stamp as they say.

Or is it a mark that people love their leaders?  Or a real choice for change?

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