Wednesday, June 29, 2016

HOD EOY Meeting

Chicago Teachers House of Delegates June Meeting
By Jim Vail

48th ward alderman Harry Osterman supports CTU's local
revenue proposals in principal to make sure school opens in the fall.

The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meeting ended the school year in June with an unanimously-approved budget and talk of things moving fast in Springfield.

"We think something is going to pass in the state," CTU VP Jesse Sharkey told the delegates June 8. "If they don't fund the Chicago public schools then there will be no other schools in the state that will open. For many small cities in the state, the schools are the biggest employer. This includes Republicans. So we have a card to play."

During the beginning question and answer period before the official delegates meeting with officer reports began, Kelvyn Park delegate Jerry Skinner spoke on behalf of the many teachers and delegates he said, "like soldiers have been left out on the battlefield, and what are we doing to make a difference and fight for them."

The union activist pointed to former delegates sitting on the sides who can no longer participate in union meetings who lost their jobs because they fought their administrations.

"There could be hundreds of people like this," Skinner said, indicating that the union could file a class-action lawsuit or something to get their jobs back.

Sharkey immediately went into "crisis management" mode by first sympathizing, briefly, then quickly pointing out union success stories of delegates who won their jobs back after the union filed unfair labor practices. He also mentioned that the union tried to give delegates "super seniority" protection in the last contract so administrators would have a harder time trying to retaliate but the Chicago Public Schools rejected that.

"Our union has never ducked a case," Sharkey said. "Labor law is strong to defend activists. Many cases wind up in the courts and we prevail."

From there, another union activist who ran for alderman, Roosevelt High School delegate and history teacher Tim Meegan, registered his complaint with how the union doles out political money.

Meegan acknowledged that the union-backed candidates in the last election won 8 of the 9 races. (However, what is a victory must be scrutinized because the CTU once endorsed Will Burns for alderman and Burns was Mayor Rahm Emanuel's right-hand man who supports the privatization of the schools.) 

"There is a disconnect between what we spend and what we claim as a victory," he told the leadership.

The race in question was for state rep between Jay Travis and Christian Mitchell. The CTU endorsed and spent over $60,000 on Travis to unseat the incumbent, more than any other candidate according to CTU records. 

"We made a run at him," Sharkey said. "Sometimes you spend money in politics and don't win.

While Sharkey said it is the legislative and political action committee that makes endorsements, it is the leadership that decides what resources to expend on certain candidates. 

The delegates quickly approved the CTU budget, a far cry from the old UPC days when opposition caucuses would argue over the budget. UPC was notorious for overspending on perks such as union employee annuities, salaries, and questionable benefits such as car and cell phone allowances.

The CTU is promoting a package of local taxes, including taxes on employers, personal property lease transactions, ride sharing, hotels and vehicle fuel. While some have argued that some of these taxes are "regressive," meaning they would affect ordinary Chicagoans.

"I won't lie and say it's all great," Sharkey said. "This is the CTU revenue recovery package and the City Council can do it. We're going to need both Springfield and Chicago and demand 100s of millions of dollars from our local politicians.

Secondcityteachers visited Ald. Harry Osterman and he said he agrees in principal with the CTU revenue proposals but will not vote on it until he sees the finalized form. 

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