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Chicago schools. Huge rally tonight. Strike vote set.

May 23, 2012

In what has become a hallmark of the fighting spirit of the Chicago Teachers Union and their leadership, a huge rally is planned tonight at the historic Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University. The Auditorium holds over 4,000, and with only CTU members allowed in, thousands more supporters are expected to gather outside.

CTU leaders also announced a strike authorization vote will be taken in the next few weeks.

CPS is not happy with that turn of events.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll says a strike authorization vote is premature. CPS and CTU are engaged in a process called “fact-finding,” which means an arbitrator is considering CPS and CTU proposals. Both sides had to agree on the arbitrator. The arbitrator will issue a final report on July 15 and then the union and CPS have 15 days to respond to the report. Then, they have to wait 30 days for a cooling-off period.

But CTU VP Jeff Sharkey points out that a strike authorization vote is both legally necessary and valuable tactically.

But Sharkey says there’s good reason to take a vote over the next few weeks. Union leaders do not want to hold a strike authorization vote during the summer, when teachers are dispersed. They also don’t want to wait until the beginning of the next school year, hoping to have a contract in place by the fall when school starts.

Once the next school year starts, things like the longer school day will be in place, making it harder for the union to negotiate over pay for the longer day, Sharkey says.

While some argue that a strike vote is risky as a result of the 75% yes vote that Senate Bill 7 requires, recent unofficial votes taken across the city have come in with 90% of the teachers voting in favor of a strike if needed.

I know from my own experience as a union president that the CTU would not take a strike authorization vote unless they knew the outcome ahead of time.

They know.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Broke Teacher permalink
    May 23, 2012 3:30 pm

    Finally, someone is growing some kahonas to take it to the state… A strike vote should have been taken long ago, and the biggest stumbling block to this has been Cynda Clikna and her “roll-over-and- give-in-to-the-state” attitude…. It would have been a hell of a statement if she had rallied Illinois’ 362,000 teachers to start beating the STRIKE drums a year ago!!!I Too bad the CTU has waited so long, but, at least they’re doing something! And it’s too bad Cynda Clikna is colluding with the state in giving up all of our teacher benefits. The CTU must feel like they’re alone in this battle for teacher rights, and lives, in the state of Illinois! The big unon should be at their side, but, has remained silent!!! What is up with that??? Cynda, where in the hell are you to fight for teacher benefits????

    Fred, you, Glen Brown and Ralph Martieri should start a “REMOVE CYNDA CLIKNA and FORCE OUR UNION TO WORK FOR US” movement. I’m sure your site is only reaching a fraction of the 362,000 teachers in the state, and if they knew how you, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Martieri have been working for us, indeed, you could start a whole new union!!!

    Just wondering, is it at all possible to get the email addresses of the 362,000 teacher base? I, for one, would forward all of your info to the entire base…. that would be sure to get some fires started under their butts!!! And man, this complacent, apathetic, 362,000 strong teacher base needs something to get them going to fight for what is their financial future.

    • Fred Klonsky permalink*
      May 23, 2012 3:46 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Broke. But a word about the CTU and the strike vote: I couldn’t be happier with the new leadership of the CTU under President Karen Lewis. But just so there is no confusion, the current plans for a strike authorization vote is part of the collective bargaining process between the CTU and the CPS board of education. It is not directed at any current legislation. The CTU is currently engaged in negotiations over a contract. The law requires that the CTU take certain steps before a work stoppage can legally take place. A vote of the membership is among the first such steps.

      While a state-wide strike of teachers against pending pension legislation might be a useful tactic, it is but one. The problem with the IEA and IFT leadership is that they have limited the kinds of rank-and-file efforts and have been willing to concede too much to soon too often.

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have been engaged for almost two decades in an effort to change the kind of leadership the IEA has provided.

      You don’t need 360,000 email addresses. We need members on the ground, in locals, regions and in retired groups organized and committed to the change.

      • May 23, 2012 7:32 pm

        360,000 email addresses do nearly nothing to build solidarity. It has to happen on the ground. Would IEA ever think about having this kind of a rally in Chicago? In Springfield? — Would the locals ever consider it? Sending e-mails is fine, but I’d say most of those in the union WOULD send e-mails if they felt more connected to their sisters and brothers and heard their stories.

        Go to Chicago? Ever? In a million years? If one tenth of the membership came to town, you’d have 36,000? Are you serious? That’d be huge. IEA whines about their press releases ignored. You can’t ignore 30,000 in the streets — plus the immense solidarity gets people motivated to actually organize when they go back home…

        Rally at Michigan & Congress, march to Board of Trade to demand the 1% be taxed to fix teacher pensions. Stage sit-in. Possibly have selected members risk arrest. March back to Michigan & Congress to have food and/or teach-ins before leaving. You may even get some CTU to stand in solidarity. No? Bad Idea?

  2. May 23, 2012 6:19 pm

    CTU rally LIVE here: http://bit.ly/LrauxM

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