Tenth Ward Alderman Susan Sadlowski Garza, Chicago’s first elected Chicago Teachers Union member of the Chicago City Council.

I can imagine that at this coming Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner the topic of Chicago teachers might come up in somebody’s family conversation. On one side of the table young cousin Martha, a Chicago teacher herself, will be extolling the virtues and sacrifices of her colleagues and why the union’s bargaining position is fair.

Uncle Bill, an ardent supporter of the presidential aspirations and immigrant positions of Donald Trump, will sneer and say, “If your union bosses are all for the kids, why the hell are they asking for any money. Sweetie.”

Talk of current events at extended-family Thanksgiving dinner can often be a toxic combo.

Personally, that’s not true for me. There will only be union supporters sharing turkey at our dinner. Things may only turn south when the dessert dishes are cleared and we engage in what my brother calls full-contact Scrabble. It is only then that the gloves may come off.

One year we went head to head over the legitimacy of the word, clafouti.

Since the word included all seven tiles, the outcome of the debate was a game changer.

I only tell this story because it was my Scrabble word and I remember winning the game. Other members of the Klonsky family may remember it differently, of course.

Perhaps the spirit of unity that I saw at last night’s CTU rally will spread across the land on Thursday. Uncle Bill and cousin Martha will come together as folks did in Butler Field on a cold November evening on the Lakefront.

By the way, even most Chicagoans don’t know that the lawn in front of the Petrillo Band Shell is called Butler Field. I received many calls during the day yesterday asking, “Where the F is Butler Field.”

What the rally demonstrated to me was that this fight is more than a fight for money. Oh. Make no mistake, Uncle Bill. It’s about money.

Rahm and the board want money and they want to take it from the teachers, nurses, paraprofessionals, clinicians and others covered by the CTU contract,  a contract, which President Karen Lewis reminded me, has already expired.

Yes, Uncle Bill. This is a contract fight in which the board wants to take money away from their employees.

Last night was a rare sight. Real diversity in a city that rarely has a chance to witness such such a thing. It was a show of support with Democrat State Representative Robert Martwick from the northwest side of Chicago sitting with young Black Lives Matter activists.

As an aside, Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery gave a rousing speech. Illinois Education Association Executive Director Audrey Soglin was announced but was a no-show.

Maybe the cold kept her car from starting.

No matter. My take-away is that if the teachers in Chicago walk, it will be for genuine fairness. Nor just for money.

And this is just some advice I give to Mayor Rahm and CEO Forrest Claypool. I give it for free. You should settle now and avoid a strike. It is much harder to settle when teachers walk out for fairness than it is to settle when they bargain for money.

It is harder to quantify fairness than it is to quantify money. Union members will know it when they see it.

Am I right cousin Martha?


8 Replies to “Fairness.”

  1. Fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
    Disagreement does not equate to “Trump lover”.
    The man needs a red nose and size 40 shoes to complete the outfit.

  2. 1) I get that you want to keep the pension and health coverage that you “earned” plus the COLA increases that continue — and may you live long and well.
    2) I get that you would like all teachers and public employees everywhere to get the pensions and health coverage and COLAs that were in effect on the date they were hired.
    3) I get that solidarity is a good thing, ESPECIALLY for older active public employees and those who have already retired.
    4) I believe that 1 & 2 are unsustainable in our economy and our democracy and will become more so.
    5) Therefore, solidarity temporarily promotes you getting yours but makes it impossible that others will get theirs. Accordingly, solidarity seems to be a way that you and your elder sisters and brothers can prolong the period during which you will get all of yours making it unlikely that younger public employees will get little or none of theirs.
    I would like to see an economic analysis that would change my thinking.

      1. Dismissive retorts do not amount to economic analysis. You sound like a typical union bully, supposing that irrelevant generalities and name calling win some point of legitimate debate. Does it occur to you that progressive taxation in Illinois requires a constitutional amendment and is as unlikely to be adopted as the taxpayers’ continued tolerance for your unsustainable expectations? One would expect a retired teacher would have something to say rather than Carrying Water for union leaders — who want to mask their conflicts of interest with active teachers, parent-voters and students. If you can get teachers to strike against their own interests and against the public interest. so you can collect 30 years worth of extravagant pensions and health benefits, then you’ll have irrevocably damaged the union and undermined its credibility. Contributions are going up and not beginning to overtake the liabilities. And those liabilities are understated based on bogus rates of return and other errors. The longer you stall the more you get from the shrinking pot, so I have limited expectations for a thoughtful response.

  3. The dictionary (or rather my dictionary) says the word is clafoutis (the plural is the same). 🙂 Sounds like you guys memorize the Scrabble dictionary! My daughter-in-law is a no holds barred player. She is a Scrabble dictionary memorizer. In contrast, when I was growing up, we had to be able to define the word without a dictionary. Consulting the dictionary before a play was only allowed for spell checking although you can imagine the room that allowed for stretching that rule. The Scrabble dictionary was considered cheating. My mother was quite a good player; she was a Sunday NYTimes crossword puzzle addict.

    Our Thanksgiving dinner should be quite congenial with two former teachers at the table, and although I refuse to play Scrabble by my daughter-in-law’s rules, she would do quite well at our Thanksgiving table. (She’s a teacher, too.)

  4. How interesting (but not surprising) that Audrey (& Cinda) were AWOL.
    And I’ve heard IFT President Dan Montgomery testify at an SB 1 Committee of 10 Hearing several years ago–dynamic speaker.
    Time to merge IEA with IFT.
    And elect Dan the one–& only–president. Saves us all a lot of $$$, too–1 union/assn. staff rather than 2 (& one Communications Director who ACTUALLY communicates! {Okay, Charlie, where’s the mention of calling Mark Kirk, urging him to oppose passage of the ESEA w/the Pay for Success provision?!})
    And reminds me of my favorite childhood poem (aside from “If”). “If All the Seas Were One Sea,” & the line
    “if all the seas were one sea, what a GREAT sea THAT would be!”
    Strength in #s…as at the rally.
    BTW–for those who don’t like the fact that the AFT was the first to endorse Hillary, we know that the CTU ISN’T the AFT itself…& neither is the IFT, so don’t be quick to lump Dan in with Randi. Also–kudos to the North Suburban Teachers Union (also IFT) for helping to form the Progress 219 School Board slate–the majority of their candidates won, & got rid of the B3-like supt. & her accomplice (read TB Furman’s Blog for the full story). Anyway, those IFT/NSTU people (along w/Northern IL Jobs w/Justice who were, BTW, at the rally–great folks, they are!) are the ones who set up the majority of the rallies that were held at local legislators’ offices the day before passage of SB 1. Again, where was the IEA? Oh, that’s right, but we DID do a Lobby Day this year…NOT.

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