Possible CTU strike? ‘Be prepared’

CTU possible strike

CTU President Karen Lewis talks to reporters about the possibility of a teachers’ strike Monday morning. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Teachers Union

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, April 21, 2016

CHICAGO — Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said April 18 a report by an independent fact-finder on contract negotiations was “dead on arrival” since it was essentially the same offer the Board of Education had made and the union had rejected.

As to what she would tell parents about the possibility of strike, Lewis said: “Be prepared.”

The proposal Lewis had once said was a “serious offer” from the Board of Education proposed net raises over four years, the phasing out of over two years of a 7 percent pension contribution CPS has been making for members, and a return to raises for continuing education and experience for teachers as soon as next school year.

But now, Lewis said CPS negotiators has even told them the broke school district can no longer even afford that offer. Lewis said CTU has bargained in good faith but argued CPS has not.

“Why are we talking about this as if some magical revenue fix has appeared . . . ? Lewis asked. “CPS is searching for cash under rocks, seat cushions and their uncles’ pants pockets,” she said.

Lewis said union officials will head back to the bargaining table with the Board of Education April 21 and that no decision has been made whether there could be a strike at the end of this school year or the beginning of the next.

The union has another 28 days as part of a cooling off period, then must file a 10-day notice of its intention to strike before doing it, putting a strike near the end of the school year as the earliest CTU could take that action.

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10 stories

Fox Valley Labor News staff reports
Thursday, Dec. 31, 2016

Staff at the Fox Valley Labor News looks back at 2015’s Top Ten stories that impacted Labor and you – was your pick No. 1?

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10
‘If we must, we will withhold our labor’

‘If we must, we will withhold our labor’

The call for a strike by members of the Chicago Teachers Union came weeks before the year ended, but it’s still important enough to make our Top Ten lest this year.

An overwhelming majority of the Chicago Teachers Union, 88 percent, voted Dec. 14 to allow union leaders to call for a strike. It will be several months before the union decides whether to actually begin a strike. First, they’re going on a “fact-finding mission” in one last effort to resolve the negotiations.

If they do decide to walk out of their classrooms, it will be the second time the union — which has 27,000 members and serves the nation’s third largest school district in the nation — has gone on strike in just a few years.


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Archbishop Blase Cupich supports labor

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

In a speech to union members in September, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich pledged his support and that of the Catholic Church to strengthening the labor movement, talking about the principles of solidarity and the protection of the dignity of workers that link the labor movement and the Catholic Church together.

The Archbishop detailed expectations union members can have of the Archdiocese, pledging the church will be a prominent voice and ally in standing up for workers’ rights. Cupich directly challenged the measures of Right to Work laws.


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Secret TPP text unveiled – it’s worse than we thought

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

As one would expect with a deal negotiated behind closed doors with 500 corporate advisers and the public and press shut out — the agreement helps big business — not everyday Americans.

It’s predicted the deal will cause a massive trade deficit in manufacturing, which would result in hundreds of thousands of job losses.

The TPP would make it easier for corporations to offshore American jobs and would push down wages by throwing Americans into competition with Vietnamese workers making less than 65 cents an hour. It does nothing to stop international rule breakers — and countries like China will once again be the winners.


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Scabby the Rat stands strong

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

We couldn’t have a complete Top Ten list without the mention of Scabby the Rat and his Fat Cat counterpart. Without fail, these inflatables have stood strong for union members, helping secure union contracts and raising awareness of businesses using non-signatory contractors.

Scabby shows up everywhere! He’s been spotted at Twin Peaks restaurant in Warrenville; in Schaumburg protesting Miller Concrete Construction; in Niles supporting Chicago-area Coco-Cola refreshment workers on strike; in Westmont where LiUNA Local 68 was protesting Prime and in East Dundee where he was supporting locked out members of IAM Automobile Mechanics Local 701 when members picketed Al Piemonte Chevrolet.


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CPS financial mess

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

The mess that is the Chicago Public School system has suffered one blunder after another. The federal investigation into CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett role in a $20 million no-bid contract to the SUPES Academy was a major shady deal. Her departure hasn’t helped matters. After a year-long talk of a possible strike, teachers voted this month to authorize a strike.

After years of budget gimmicks and massive borrowing, CPS approved an operating budget, but it depended on a half-billion dollars’ worth of money from Springfield — which has yet to materialize. CPS is now looking at laying off thousands of teachers. Parents have turned to hunger strikes to get recognition for the plights of their children and their schools. Special education spending was cut and parents are still feeling the pain of 50 school closings in 2013.


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Fast food and retail workers Fight for $15

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

For the third year in a row, the call-to-action Fight for $15 campaign shows up in our Top Ten. This year, we saw Los Angeles, New York and other cities raise the minimum wage for their citizens.

Locally, the Fight for $15 campaign delivered 1.4 million petitions to McDonald’s shareholder meeting, urging hourly wages for the burger giant’s front-line workers be increased to $15 an hour.

In April Tens of thousands of workers from all low wage sectors and communities across America and the world made history in a massive mobilization for better pay, respect, and corporate accountability.

Effective July 1, McDonald’s increased starting wages to $1 above the local minimum at 1,500 company-owned restaurants. It does not effect franchisees, which operate the majority of U.S. restaurants.


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Organized labor takes on big projects

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

Organized labor rose to the challenge when it came to constructing projects in 2015 throughout the Chicagoland area. This month, CISCO will present its 2015 Pride in Construction Awards, which range from medical centers and parks to apartments and lofts.

In Aurora, the building trades were praised for their craftsmanship on the new Aurora library, a $28 million project, and for expansions to the Premium Outlet Mall and the Wrigley Manufacturing Co. in Yorkville.

Some Chicago construction included the Madison Racine Apartments, Cancer Treatment Center of America, Maggie Daley Park, Lemont Wet Weather Treatment Facility & Reservoir, Bensenville Police & Emergency Management Headquarters and AMLI Lofts.


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Sanders VS Clinton

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

Who’s going to win the Democratic nomination for president — Sen. Bernie Sanders or former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton? Time will tell. Top national labor unions have backed both candidates for different reasons. National leaders at SEIU announced an official endorsement of Clinton, despite Sanders getting a lot of support from local chapters. The American Postal Workers Union, the United Electrical Workers and the National Nurses United are backing Sanders. Former Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen is also helping lead the effort for Team Bernie.

At first, organized labor was hesitant to back Clinton — due to her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and hesitance to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But along with SEIU backing Clinton, so is the American Federation of Teachers, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

Both Clinton and Sanders are succeeding by addressing some pretty mainstream issues: raising the minimum wage, equal pay protections for women, paid family leave, making college affordable, and universal background checks for gun purchases. The Democrats are not insulting each other and they are not spinning fantastic conspiracy theories — unlike the candidates on the GOP side.


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Who’s the craziest GOP presidential nominee?

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

The opportunity to run for president on the GOP ticket has turned into 3 ring circus. The presidential hopefuls have been whittled down from 17. Hands down, Donald Trump leads the pack of dimwits. Unfortunately, little can stop the rise of Trump. No matter how offensive or nonsensical his views, the millionaire businessman keeps doing better and better in the polls. From his views on Hillary Clinton’s inability to please her husband to his attacks on the physical appearance of other women, Trump proves time and time again what an ass he is.

We can’t forget how he suggested John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured, or how he characterized Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” Trump would also like to date his daughter Ivanka, you know, if she wasn’t already his DAUGHTER.


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Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-worker obsession

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

Illinois closes out 2015 and heads into 2016 without a state budget and with a governor at the helm doing nothing to remedy the issue. All year, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has pushed his Turnaround Agenda onto cities and municipalities, all in the hopes it will be approved so he can limit collective bargaining and the rights of workers injured on the job – hurting the middle class. Without a budget since July 1, vital human service agencies that receive state funding are hurting. As cities and municipalities consider Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, organized labor has shown up in droves to voice their concerns on Rauner’s anti-worker tactics, the elimination of prevailing wage and the implementation of right to work zones, which would strip workers of their right to form strong unions and bargain for a better life.

Honoring Karen Lewis: Fighting for her students, members and Labor

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

GURNEE — Fatigue from ongoing chemotherapy treatments, combined with battling the Chicago Public School administration with contract negotiations kept Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis from accepting a recent award in person — but it didn’t stiefel the love felt for the woman who leads the nearly 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools.

Lewis was the recipient of the Person of the Year award, given by the Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. This is the 20th year the council has given this award.

Chicago Teachers Union President, Karen Lewis

Chicago Teachers Union President, Karen Lewis

“I know Karen very well, and let me tell you — this is deeply meaningful to her,” said Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery, who accepted on Lewis’ behalf.

Visibly emotional while speaking to guests at the Sept. 24 event in Gurnee, Montgomery held back tears while discussing what the award means to Lewis. “I’m going to tell her the kind of reception you gave her. And that will mean a lot to her,” he said. “I spoke with Karen before coming here, and she wanted to say: ‘Tell them I’m doing much better, but we’re in negotiations. I have limited ability to drive and to speak after fooling with Rahm’s minions [CPS functionaries],’” which drew applause and laughter from guests.

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery accepts an award Sept. 24 on behalf of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis for Person of the Year, given to Lewis by the Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Staff photographer, Jennifer Rice

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery accepts an award Sept. 24 on behalf of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis for Person of the Year, given to Lewis by the Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

During a run last year for Chicago’s mayor, Lewis suddenly was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had surgery two days after diagnoses and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments ever since.

“She is doing well. She will tell you her scans are clear — her cancer appears to be gone, but she’s extremely weak. If you’ve seen her recently, she’s lost a lot of weight, she walks with a walker, but her mind is as sharp as ever,” Montgomery explained.

Even though CTU President Karen Lewis was unable to attend an event in her honor, guest of the 20th annual Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Person of the Year award, stand and applaud her efforts and dedication for teaching and standing firm against the privatization of public education.

Even though CTU President Karen Lewis was unable to attend an event in her honor, guest of the 20th annual Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Person of the Year award, stand and applaud her efforts and dedication for teaching and standing firm against the privatization of public education. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

If one thing could define Lewis, Montgomery said it would be that she is a teacher. “She’s a teacher at heart and she’s a teacher through-and-through. She bring that with her as a unionist and it’s what makes her a really good union leader,” he said.

Besides being a union leader, Lewis loves opera, speaks Italian, plays the piano and is an observant Jew. “She’s a really interesting, smart and multifarious person. She also doesn’t put up with bullshit and doesn’t tolerate foolishness. She does that in the defense of her community, her city, her teachers and the schools,” Montgomery said.

Illinois AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Tim Drea, who traveled from Springfield to attend the event, said Lewis should be honored to receive the Person of the Year award. Drea was a past recipient himself, receiving the award in 2010.

As a past recipient himself, Illinois AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Tim Drea said CTU President Karen Lewis should be proud she was chosen for the Person of the Year award.

As a past recipient himself, Illinois AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Tim Drea said CTU President Karen Lewis should be proud she was chosen for the Person of the Year award. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Following tradition, Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO President Patrick Statter gave Lewis a Michael the Archangel clock, so she will “always be safe, and never be late,” Statter explained.

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery, right, hold the traditional Person of the Year gift from the Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO - a Michael the Archangel clock, which he will give to Karen Lewis. Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO President Patrick Statter, left, reads an Illinois Senate recognition certificate offered by Senator Melinda Bush, citing Lewis’ dedication and fight for labor.

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery, right, hold the traditional Person of the Year gift from the Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO – a Michael the Archangel clock, which he will give to Karen Lewis. Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO President Patrick Statter, left, reads an Illinois Senate recognition certificate offered by Senator Melinda Bush, citing Lewis’ dedication and fight for labor. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Civil right champion to attend CTU MLK breakfast

By Fox Valley
Labor News staff
Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015

MLK breakfast

First event sold out, second King day event added for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and rally

CHICAGO — Due to overwhelming demand, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has added a second event to its celebration of the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The 4th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Clergy Breakfast will go on as planned at 9 a.m., Jan. 15, at the Kroc Center, 1250 W. 119th St., in Chicago. A second event has been added the same day at 4 p.m., at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St. in Chicago. Both events are free and open to the public.

At both events, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and architect of North Carolina’s Moral Monday Forward Together Movement, will again speak on the legacy of Dr. King and the importance of putting his dream into action.

The 9 a.m. breakfast is sponsored by the CTU and Parents, Educators & Clergy for Education (P.E.A.C.E.), a coalition of local teachers, retirees, parents, faith-based leaders and others united in addressing poverty, race and class issues impacting the more than 400,000 public school students throughout the city.

Past speakers at the commemorative clergy breakfast have included the prolific voices of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ, and Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP.

As president of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, Rev. Barber also serves on the historic group’s national board of directors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration at North Carolina Central University, then went on to complete a master’s degree from Duke and a doctorate from Drew University in public policy and pastoral care.

Like in Chicago and elsewhere, North Carolina citizens were faced with regressive attacks on the poor, workers, African-Americans, Latinos, women, students, the sick and elderly. Answering the call for moral courage, Rev. Barber, along with 16 other ministers and activists, peacefully petitioned their representatives on Jones Street in late April 2013 where the state capitol is located.

Then, for 62 consecutive weeks, the Forward Together Moral Movement as led by the civil rights champion, protested an avalanche of regressive policies through more than 122 rallies and actions, leading to more than 1,000 arrests for civil disobedience in the state legislature and involving tens of thousands of demonstrators with more than 80,000 people participating in a single day at the height of the campaign.

In addition to music from the Morgan Park High School Boys Chorus, spoken word performances and recollections of Dr. King’s work, the spotlight will be given to the Chicago’s rising youth movement against police brutality and fight for education equity.

The federal Martin Luther King Holiday is celebrated the third Monday of each January, however, the civil rights icon was actually born Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Ga. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was cut down in his prime by an assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968.
—Chicago Teachers Union