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UniteHere Local 1 and SEIU 73 break from the progressive union coalition.

March 4, 2015


As the April 7th Chicago election for mayor approaches everybody must take a side.

“You can’t be neutral on a moving train,” Howard Zinn once said.

Unite Here’s Local 1 has chosen to side openly with the union-hating Mayor Emanuel.

SEIU Local 73 is posing as neutral in spite of their financial contributions to the Mayor’s campaign fund.

Micah Uetricht of In These Times spoke with SEIU 73 Secretary Treasurer Matt Brandon.

When asked if he agreed with the characterization of Emanuel as a strongly anti-union mayor, Brandon says, “I totally disagree.”

“We just finished successfully negotiating a contract in which almost 1,000 of our members have been guaranteed no layoffs for the next three years. There have been 250 additional people hired in the city of Chicago bargaining unit since the mayor’s been [in office]. He’s never come out and said he’s ‘anti-union,’ although the way he started out, you would have perceived that.” Local 73, Brandon says, “was the first union that felt the wrath of Mayor Emanuel,” with a number of layoffs coming shortly after the mayor took office.

“We’ve been able, for a period of time, to get to a point of dialogue where we’ve been able to get some gains and maintain some job security for the members of Local 73, and that’s very important to us.”

Brandon says he finds it regretful that the different locals are carrying out this battle in public.

“It’s unfortunate that any disagreements among labor unions are out in the open, but I also think it’s important to the members that we serve that they understand the Local 73 is pursuing their interests,” he says.

Of course, Brandon doesn’t want his sellout union leadership out in public.

Screwing your members and the members of other unions in this city is something he would prefer be kept behind closed doors.


Opt-out will be discussed at the IEA Representative Assembly. For now the IEA is neutral on HB306. Updated: Bill is voted out of committee.

March 4, 2015

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I called IEA’s Government Relations Director Jim Reed yesterday to find out the IEA position on Representative Will Guzzardi’s HB306.

HB306 would establish clear guidelines for parents wishing to opt out of high-stakes tests like the disastrous PARCC tests going on over the next few days in Illinois schools.

I visited an elementary school this morning and the level of anger and frustration of the teachers I talked to was higher than I have ever witnessed in 33 years of being associated with education, teachers and schools.

I would share the stories, but I like to keep my posts relatively short. The stories would fill pages.

Back to the IEA.

Yesterday Jim said that the IEA was in opposition to HB306. He said there was concern about the lack of specificity in the bill and the threat to funding.

I also reported yesterday that the IFT was in support of HB306.

During the day I heard from other folks that the IEA was neutral. So I got back to Jim and he confirmed that after discussion with Guzzardi and others the IEA would reserve judgment until the state Representative Assembly in Rosemont.

I told Jim that I thought we should support HB306, but I look forward to a discussion at the RA where I will be a delegate.

And for the time being, neutral is better than opposition.

Meanwhile HB306 was voted out of committee.

Says Representative Will Guzzardi:

My first bill made it through committee! Thank you to Raise Your Hand, CTU, IFT and everyone who filed out a witness slip in support.

I’m excited to bring this to the house floor and continue the conversation on how we can use this as a first step in building a fully funded and enriching education for every child in Illinois!

Mr. Warmth.

March 4, 2015


The wink.

March 4, 2015

Duncan And Emmanuel Promote Education Dept's Summer Reading Initiative

Rahm just gave us white folks the wink.

Some pollyannas probably thought we could get through a Chicago election without the wink.


You can always count on the wink when the polls show a dead heat.

And the last polling of the Chicago race for mayor shows a dead heat.

Bill Clinton had his wink. They called it his Sister Souljah Moment.

Ronald Reagan winked at us white folks when he began his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Some of you younger readers may not have been around for the first George Bush’s wink. It was named Willie Horton.

And I always loved Richie Daley’s wink: “Chicago needs a wet mayor,” he later claimed he said.

“A wet mayor!” I kind of miss Richie.

But then I don’t.

Give Rahm some credit. He tried to avoid the wink. In the primary. He just answered every reporter’s question and every debate topic by saying, “I’m for the kids.” 

Now that things have tightened up though, he has reverted to form.


There it is. That’s the wink.

Eddie Murphy did this classic bit on SNL called White Like Me. He put on white face make-up and discovered that when Black people weren’t around then white people gave everything away for free to each other.

The kernal of truth in that comedy bit is the wink.

Republican Senator Mark Kirk endorsed Rahm this week:

“It’s a concern if we had one of the less-responsible people running against him,” Kirk said at the event in Chicago. “None of them could command the respect of the bond market. The collapse of Chicago debt — which already happened with Detroit — would soon follow if somebody who is very inexperienced replaced Rahm. …You’ve got to have a strong, capable leader and the people I’ve seen running against the mayor are not that leader.”

There it was.


And I don’t think for a moment this wasn’t part of the Rahm election strategy.

Kirk is a north shore Republican.  Rahm is from up there too. They don’t use the other word when talking about people of color. At least not in public.

Up there they say things like the “less-responsible people” who are “very inexperienced”  and will turn Chicago into “Detroit.”

But you know what he means. You know who he means.



March 3, 2015

I want war

February, 2015 political map of Chicago.

March 3, 2015

Political map of Chicago


Data: Steve Bogira, The Reader:  “The mayor’s best vote totals citywide were 73 percent in the 42nd Ward (the Loop, River North, the Gold Coast); 72 percent in the 43rd (Lincoln Park); and 64 percent in both the 44th (Lakeview) and the Second (Near North Side). This is the mayor’s turf—within a mile or so of the lakefront, from downtown north, up to about Uptown, where incomes, and his support, begin to fall.


Illinois’ opt-out bill. Updated.

March 3, 2015

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I sent in my witness slip supporting HB306.

Here is the synopsis of Representative Will Guzzardi’s opt-out bill.

With respect to the administration of State assessments, provides that a student is not required to take a particular State assessment if that student’s parent or guardian requests, in writing, that the student be excused from taking the State assessment. Requires the State Board of Education, by rule, to (i) determine the form of the request, (ii) ensure that no student, teacher, school, or school district is negatively impacted, through grades or evaluations, due to a student being excused from taking a State assessment, and (iii) ensure that students who are excused from taking a State assessment are offered supervised instructional or enrichment opportunities during the time the State assessment is being administered. Effective immediately.

The hearing on the bill is scheduled for tomorrow.

It is not too late to fill out a witness slip. Filling it out does not require you to appear. You can simply take a position.

The master of all things technological, Tim Furman, has put a short video on his blog site explaining how to fill it out.

I talked with IEA Director of Government Relations Jim Reed this morning. I asked if the IEA supported the bill.

He said they do not.

He says they have concerns that it is a block opt out. By that Jim means that the bill is not explicit about which test. He says the IEA is also concerned with the threat of the loss of federal or state funding if opt-out numbers exceed a certain percentage of a district’s students.

This has been the threat that the ISBE and the federal DOE have used successfully to get CPS to do a last minute implementation the PARCC testing with no preparation.

39th District State Representative Will Guzzardi wrote about HB306 on his FB page when he first filed it.

First bill filed. Gives parents the right to opt their students out of standardized testing, a right which students themselves currently have but their legal guardians don’t.

This will make the law internally consistent, and also be a huge boon to the thousands of parents whose kids suffer from severe test anxiety and hate school because of the crazy amount of testing they’re forced to undergo [].

And hopefully it’ll add to the dialogue about the perils of over- and mis-using standardized tests, both of which CPS does in spades.

Cassandre Creswell and More Than a Score, Wendy Katten and RAISE YOUR HAND – CPS Parents for Fair Funding, and the Chicago Teachers Union have all been tremendous advocates on this issue, and I’m excited to take the fight to Springfield with them.

I find it a shame that the NEA and the IEA officially oppose what NEA President Lily Garcia Eskelsen describes as toxic testing in theory, but not when a specific bill is before the legislature.

I tried contacting the IFT and the CTU to see what their official position was on HB306 but have not heard back as the time of this posting.

Following posting this I received the following from the IFT:

Hi Fred,

Sorry we missed your call.

I believe you were asking about the parent opt-out legislation.

The IFT supports the bill.

Hope all is well,


Aviva F. Bowen | Director of Communications

Illinois Federation of Teachers

500 Oakmont Lane, Westmont, IL 60559

T: (630) 468-4080 | E:


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