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“The results are not a win. They are an indictment of the state of the relationship between the management of [Chicago Public Schools] and its largest labor force — members of the Chicago Teachers Union,’’ CTU President Karen Lewis said at a news conference.
23,780 Chicago Teachers Union members voted to authorize strike.

482 voted no

out of 26,502 total membership

Total valid votes 24,262

% membership voting 91.55%
% of membership voting yes 89.73%
% of membership voting no 1.82%

# rejected/spoiled ballots  494

# of Non-voters  2,240

% of membership non-voting  8.45%

Today, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) revealed nearly 90 percent of its eligible members voted to give their labor organization the authority to call a strike should contract negotiations reach an impasse. The Union has been in negotiations with the Chicago Public School system (CPS) since November 2011. A new state law requires a 75 percent of all eligible CTU voters to vote in the affirmative in order to provide strike authorization.

Although both CTU and CPS are in the fact-finding stage of negotiations, the Union pointed out that the independent review will only provide recommendations on a small number of contract concerns. Public school educators say they are fighting for smaller class sizes, art, music, world language and physical education classes for students, and fair compensation for being asked to work under more difficult guidelines as determined by CPS.

Armed with strike authorization, teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians say they believe this will give them more leverage at the bargaining table going forward. Should a strike become necessary, the Union’s 800-member House of Delegates will set the date for a work stoppage.

Under the current union leadership, the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), the CTU boasts an organizing model that cracks into Chicago’s teaching workforce and neighborhoods as doggedly as the city’s Democratic machine. While the city shutters, charterizes, segregates, gentrifies, intimidates, and fires, the union has created a member organizing department where one didn’t exist before, trained over 200 shop stewards, held countless public meetings and protests against school closings, and organized in hand with parents, students, community groups, and other unions—altogether, a new vision for twenty-first century teacher unionism.

To its name, the caucus reached out to fellow rank-and-filers—which, in a profession dominated by contract-oriented business unions, is all too uncommon. CORE held steering committee elections, school-by-school meetings, “fun-raisers,” and study sessions on the union’s contract and school budget. The organizing paid off; in 2010, CORE swept union executive board elections and became synonymous with the CTU.

Dominance and collaboration

While CORE protested outside the “Advance Illinois” breakfast in June 2009, Arne Duncan’s homecoming party after moving from CPS to Obama’s cabinet, then-CTU president Marilyn Stewart sat inside and applauded him. As current president Karen Lewis sees it, “The problem is that management thinks that collaboration means that I tell you what to do.”

The CTU’s current unwillingness to submit to ill-advised collaboration is a promising departure from most other teachers unions. Unions in Providence, New Haven, Denver, Baltimore, and elsewhere have won serious hand-clapping from Duncan at his annual “Labor-Management Collaboration Conference,” public opinionators like Nicholas Kristof, and other wide-eyed champions of “Scandinavian-style” partnership.

The three-day vote tally showed:

Strike Authorization Vote Tables                                                                                            

Building organizing capacity, particularly in prep for potential strike, has its birth pangs. “There’s the fact that we can’t get in a time machine and organize people ten years ago for this fight,” says English teacher Kenzo Shibata. “A lot of people who we’re talking to are being talked to by the union for the first time.”
It’s the four years that rank-and-filers have been talking that must be taken seriously. Teachers unions and public education advocates hoping to resist Emanuel-style “reform” ignore the history and vision of the CORE-led CTU at their peril.

Originally posted to Hyde Park Johnny on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 11:29 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, Your Government at Work, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Progressive Hippie.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow. (10+ / 0-)

    Talk about solidarity.
    Best of luck and my support from afar.

    99%er. 100% opposed to fundamentalist/neoconservative/neoliberal oligarchs.

    by blueoasis on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 11:34:52 AM PDT

  •  Each non vote is a no vote. Watch the percentages (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, jayden, judyms9

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 11:35:38 AM PDT

  •  What are the reasons? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Don't live in Chicago and don't know why they are threatening a strike.

  •  did they authorize a date? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, jayden

    Will they go on strike in September when the new year begins?  what protections are there against hiring replacement teachers and is there any requirement that substitutes be licensed or have any credentials/  What about the paraprofessionals and the other employees?  I will stay tuned for more information.

  •  Looks like a busy summer of solidarity n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, JayRaye, jayden

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 11:48:42 AM PDT

  •  As a veteran of an unsuccessful teachers strike (11+ / 0-)

    I have a few thoughts for Chicago brothers and sisters. The strike vote itself is great and shows real solidarity but I'll bet Rahm would welcome a traditional mass walkout type of strike as an excuse the fire unionized staff and replace the whole public system with privatizers, New Orleans-style. Dont forget that Arne Duncan is from your town and the infamous Race to the Top scam was a project close to Rahm's heart when he was calling the shots in DC. Bill Daley's another DC shot-caller who will be on hand to stab the union in the back if given the chance.

    I'd recommend brief  rolling strikes and direct actions designed to embarass and inconvenience the bosses but not hurt children or their families. Close down one school for a morning or afternoon while teachers head with their students for another school, meanwhile assuring parents kids will be closely supervised. Refuse to hand in data for attendance and standardized tests - This will burn bosses but be of no concern to kids or parents.

    And above all, forge alliances with other workers and with the unemployed. Too often, the teachers I know had what one old Russian  called "cerdsi bumagi" i.e. "hearts of paper." They thought clever picket signs and leaflets made a difference and failed to ally with bus drivers, janitors, food workers, security guards and other public workers.

    Above remember the great sit-in strikes of the old UAW - occupy the schools and dont let the bosses lock you out. Keep those schools open 24/7 and invite in parents and community to join you.

    By the way, all of the above actions can only be fought on the grass-roots level and AFT or NEA union bosses are almost always unwilling to concede any power to local school leaders, afraid they might empower opposition to themselves. They usually see a long, painful strike as a chance to build childlike dependence by workers on the union "negotiating team."

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 11:57:49 AM PDT

  •  So, Going to go out on limb and make a (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, greengemini, JeffW, Mostel26

    prediction here:

    This is just the beginning.

    History teaches us that they can only beat us down for just so long before we rise up again.

    90% of union members voting to strike is a huge margin.

    Solidarity with Chicago Teachers,
    from Texas

    Get your Very Little red Songbooks here:

    The IWW made the Very Little Red Songbooks esp for the Wisconsin Protests.

    WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For May: Martyrs of the San Diego Free Speech Fight, Spring 1912.

    by JayRaye on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:26:57 PM PDT

  •  I know it's posturing (0+ / 0-)

    But there is a huge gap between what CPS is offering (5 yr contract - 2% raise and 10% longer workday) vs what the Union is asking for (2 Yr contract - 24% raise 1st year / 5% raise 2nd year).

    I would say unless there is some serious bargaining done, they will strike - and then the optics are usually bad for the teachers.  My mom was a teacher and had voted to strike - something she regrets becasue they did strike and when you teach and live in the same town - it can get ugly - and they were only striking for tenure.  I remember one of my Mom's friends asking her why she would ever be concerned being a good teacher she would be highly unlikely to ever lose her job.  That stuff really bother my mom - as well as she felt she was letting her students down.  My point is I hope for everyones's sake, it can be negotiated without a strike.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:31:57 PM PDT

    •  It's already bad for teachers. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      judyms9, drmah, JayRaye, JeffW, 3goldens

      They're continuously used as national scapegoats for what ails our economy. At this point a strike isn't going to do much additional damage to their reputations.

      Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

      by jayden on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:50:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, and sending a message of solidarity to (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jayden, 2laneIA, JayRaye, JeffW, 3goldens

        Rahm, Arne,, is the right thing to do.  Even though WI was lost, the wingers had to spend mega money to win it.  Let each state's public workers tug on the wallets of the 1% by giving them some form of metaphorical pummeling, some opposition.  The loss of the individual battles could result in actually winning the larger war.  And if there are after hours demonstrations rather than a full bore strike, the teachers' union should call the cops ahead of time and tell them they may be getting overtime pay and enhanced job security because the teachers are going to be walking with signs, something so scary it requires paramilitary security beef up.  Tell them they are welcome.  Send notes to the parents highlighting teacher commitment to kids, something that impels teachers to take to the streets on their own time to demonstrate American leadership rather than sheepship.  Wave to the media and let them know you are doing them a huge favor on those lazy August slow news days.  And tell them they are welcome.  And keep pointing out that Finland, #1 in educational testing, has NO private schools and no testing obsessions.  There should be impromptu solidarity demonstrations across the nation.  Are you listening, MEA and AFT?  These are teachable moments.

        Oh, and by the way, teachers have kids, pay taxes and support their local businesses like everyone else.  If Chicago won't support teachers then teachers need to develop spending strategies that will highlight their value to Chicago's economy because merely educating the children doesn't seem to be enough, does it?

        Romney went to France instead of serving in our military, got rich chop-shopping US businesses and eliminating US jobs, off-shored his money in the Cayman Islands, and now tells us to "Believe in America."

        by judyms9 on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 01:18:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's only going to get worse. At some point the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye, Mostel26, 3goldens

      only solution will be for a general education strike all across America.  Teacher's haven't quite been punished eonough to get this that point yet, but if Mitt is elected, it will come sooner, rather than later.

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