Yesterday I congratulated the Chicago Teachers Union on my Facebook feed.
I have always been a big supporter of the CTU, even during those years when they had what I thought was crummy leadership.
I support teachers and teacher unions. They are my people.
In 2010 the CORE caucus won leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union in a runoff election in which 20,406 members voted. The slate was headed by Karen Lewis, at the time a chemistry teacher at King College Prep. The results were CORE at 12,080 votes and UPC, headed by Marilyn Stewart at 8,326. CORE swept all elected offices in the run-off.
After Friday’s election, the CORE caucus was once again elected to lead the CTU when the slate received about 6,600 out of around 10,000 votes.
I’m a life-long union member, 30 years a teacher union member, 10 years a local union president.
I don’t normally comment on the terms of a bargaining agreement that I don’t have to work under. And I don’t take sides in an election when I’m not a member, especially when there is a democratic direct election by the rank and file.
That was true in the recent CTU election between the CORE caucus and their challengers from the Members First caucus.
I’m just big on defending and expanding collective bargaining right and full democracy in our unions.
I trust the members.
When I congratulated the CORE members on their victory and for the CTU’s democratic process, I was criticized by someone for “damning the union with faint praise.”
I only wished that my former union, the IEA/NEA had as much democracy. The IEA elects its president at their Representative Assembly. It is attended by about 1,000 delegates. The President of the IEA is elected every term by about 600 member delegates out of a state membership of around 120,000.
How is that democratic?
When former IEA President Cinda Klickna recently ran for a seat on the Teacher Retirement System board of trustees representing roughly 100,000 retired TRS members, she was beaten handily by Doug Strand, who never held state union office.
That’s what happens when things get democratic.
I disagreed with the CTU’s decision to support Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Toni Preckwinkle in the Chicago mayor’s race.
So did 75% of Chicago voters.
But the fact remains that CTU members got to directly choose their leaders.
The Chicago Sun-Times chose to headline it’s story on the CTU election by focusing on CTU President Jesse Sharkey.
It seems hard for the media to wrap their heads around the idea that everything isn’t about personalities. They need to dumb down every story.
It was the CORE slate that won because of their history of including rank-and-file voice and struggling to implement what they see as social justice unionism.
Every CTU member had a chance to vote on whether that’s the direction they wanted their union to continue to go.