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Democracy to the Forefront in Municipal Election

by ctu communications  |  February 25, 2015

CHICAGO—In a sign of the shifting winds of change in Chicago politics, the races for mayor and alderman in 19 wards are headed to run-off elections to be decided April 7, 2015. Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, backed by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Illinois Federation of Teachers, United Working Families (UWF) and legions of community organizations and grassroots support, garnered enough of the vote to keep incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel from gaining a majority of the vote needed for re-election, while three CTU members are among candidates who will be vying for leadership of wards on all sides of the city.

Despite low voter turnout throughout the city, Tuesday’s results were a victory for grassroots community movements over the interests of wealthy political interlopers, and a victory for Chicagoans fighting for everyday survival in contrast to the growth of the city’s downtown business district. It was a victory for those who desire real change in the city of Chicago—to live in a city that thrives, provides for all of its citizens and respects its collective voice. The results were also a testimony to the hard work and advocacy of thousands across the city who worked tirelessly on run-off campaigns and learned that with great effort comes great reward, and that together, the narrative can be changed for the future of Chicago.

“This is a great day for the city of Chicago, but it is just the beginning,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “People hit the streets and voiced their feelings and emotions in a show of democracy that polling doesn’t always show, and this is the momentum that will carry us through the next election in April.”

CTU educators Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th Ward), Tim Meegan (33rd Ward) and Tara Stamps (37th Ward) will be in run-off elections in the spring, continuing their fight for more progressive and community-focused voices on the Chicago City Council. The CTU is also pleased to report an outpouring of citywide support for the Elected Representative School Board (ERSB) referendum on the ballot in yesterday’s Municipal Election.

Nearly 90 percent of voters in 37 wards voted in favor of an elected Chicago Board of Education, which appeared on the ballot after a successful campaign by the CTU, UWF, Grassroots Education Movement, Grassroots Illinois Action, SEIU HCii and scores of community volunteers throughout the city of Chicago. The mayor and his rubber stamp alderman had consistently blocked the ERSB referendum, but the CTU and its allies filed 66,000 signatures on petitions last fall to secure its place on the ballot.

The campaign for an ERSB will continue as state legislators in Springfield will be pushed to act and change laws to allow Chicago taxpayers to vote for the direction of the city’s public schools, and not be subject to the whims of the mayor’s handpicked Board of Ed appointees.

ILLUSTRATION: Karen and endorsements(CTU President Karen Lewis with Union-endorsed candidates for alderman, including aldermen-elect in the 17th Ward, David Moore [third from left], and the 35th Ward, Carlos Rosa [far right], and run-off candidates and CTU members Tara Stamps in the 37th Ward [second from left], Susan Sadlowski Garza in the 10th Ward [middle] and Tim Meegan in the 33rd Ward [5th from right].)

Congratulations from the IFT!

by dan montgomery - illinois federation of teachers  |  February 25, 2015

Statement on the Feb. 24 Municipal Election from Illinois Federation of Teachers president Dan Montgomery:

“Yesterday’s election in Chicago was a victory for all working people.  I’d like to congratulate our endorsed candidate, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, for forcing the Mayor into a runoff election and spurring a robust debate about the future of Chicago and its families in the weeks ahead. IFT Local 1, the Chicago Teachers Union, and their community allies must also be commended for organizing successful campaigns across the city and unquestionably making their voices heard on numerous fronts. 

"Three courageous IFT members – Tara Stamps, Sue Garza, and Tim Meegan – also stepped up, ran for office, and forced powerful incumbent Aldermen into runoffs. They were able to do this not with more money than their opponents, but with the strength that comes from rank-and-file members and neighbors making calls, knocking on doors, and doing whatever necessary to change direction in those wards. 

"Last but not least, Chicago is on its way to ending two decades of one-person rule over the schools. A staggering 90% of voters approved an advisory referendum to move Chicago schools from an appointed board to an elected one. It’s going to be a long road ahead, but the campaign cleared a major hurdle and demonstrated the community's overwhelming support for a democratically elected school board that represents them. 

"Last night’s results show the power of solidarity. We need to approach all of our challenges like this – together as one. It’s the only way to win.” 

Full primary night speech by "Chuy" Garcia

by chicagoforchuy.com  |  February 24, 2015

Nobody thought we'd be here tonight.

They wrote us off …said we didn’t have a chance …said we didn’t have any money …while they spent millions attacking us.

Well …we’re still standing.

We’re still running

And we’re going to win.

Today we the people have spoken…

…not the people with the money and the power and the connections…

…not the giant corporations …the big money special interests …the hedge funds and Hollywood celebrities who’ve poured tens of millions into the Mayor’s campaign.

They’ve had their say for too long.

They’ve had their way for too long.

But today, the rest of us had something to say ...the bus drivers …train operators ... police officers and emergency responders …students …health care workers …retirees, block club leaders… community organizers… teachers …working moms and working dads …the people who make this great city great …we have something to say…

We have something to say to all those big corporations and special interests who’ve spent all those millions to install their own Mayor:

We want a change.

There have been ten thousand shootings in Chicago in the last four years …and it’s just wrong for our children to have to dodge bullets on their way to school.

That’s going to change …and we’re going to change it …together.

It’s wrong for the Mayor to cut our police …and then use the money to give corporations one hundred million dollars in tax breaks.

That’s going to change ...and we’re going to change it …together.

It’s wrong for the Mayor to cut our neighborhood schools …but then pass out tens of millions in giveaways to his cronies and campaign contributors.

That’s going to change ...and we’re going to change it …together.

This city deserves a Mayor who will put people first, not big money special interests.

I will be that Mayor.

This city needs a Mayor who will listen to people …the people who get up every day, work hard, pay their bills, and want nothing more than a good job, a safe neighborhood for their family and a good school for their kids.

You are the people who really make this city work …each and every one of you.

I will not forget you.  And I will listen to you.

I will be your Mayor.

Want to know who this campaign is for?

It’s for Erika Wozniak, one lone 5th grade teacher.

She’s been teaching for 11 years now.  She’s devoted her life to our kids.

Well, Erika told me about one of her favorite students, a little girl …smart as a whip… who loved her friends …loved her teachers …loved her school.

One day, that little girl’s parents came in and told Erika they had to move to the suburbs.

Why?  Because she was squeezed into a classroom with 35 other kids and it just wasn’t fair.

That little girl left Chicago.  Her parents left Chicago.

And it wasn’t just Erika’s loss.

It was Chicago’s loss.

It was our loss.

We’ve lost over two hundred thousand people in Chicago since the turn of the century.

Two hundred thousand.

People like Erika’s 5th grade student …whose parents didn’t want her stuffed into an overcrowded classroom.

People all over this city who’ve gotten tired of the daily sound of gunfire echoing down their streets …in their parks …on their playgrounds.

When I was younger I remember reading the words of a famous civil rights leader.

Her name was Fannie Lou Hamer.

You know what she said?

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Well, today, a majority of the people of Chicago said with one loud voice: we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.

We are going to build a new Chicago …a Chicago that works for everyone …a Chicago that people want move to …not run away from.

Chicago’s going to change …and starting six weeks from tonight …we’re going to change it …together.

There are some people I want to thank tonight, starting with my wife, Evelyn

(Acknowledgements)

We’ve got six weeks of hard work ahead of us …and believe me these big money interests are going to throw everything they’ve got at us.  They run this town and they’re not going to give up easy.

But we’re going to fight …and we’re going to work …and we’re going to win.

We’re going to change this city …together.

ILLUSTRATION: Chuy runoff

ChicagoforChuy.com

CTU, ACTS Support Teachers’ Efforts to Unionize in Two of Illinois’ Largest Charter School Networks

by ctu communications  |  February 20, 2015

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago chapter of the American Federation of Teachers’ Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS) stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at North Lawndale College Prep and Urban Prep who are organizing to form unions in two of the most prominent charter school networks in the state of Illinois. The efforts of these educators to unite to fight the burdens of class size and paperwork, inadequate professional preparation time and lack of appropriate staffing levels mirror the needs of many of Chicago’s teachers and education support personnel working daily for the city and schools that our students deserve, and the CTU and ACTS are extremely proud of them for taking a stand for their rights.
 
“The teachers at these privately held, publicly funded charter schools are just as fed up as teachers at our non-charter public schools, and they’re saying they’ve had enough of the top-down bureaucracy,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “It’s not educators making the decisions that affect their classrooms, and that’s where these problems begin, so we strongly support the North Lawndale College Prep and Urban Prep teachers in their efforts to unionize to ensure that both they and their students have the resources and environment they need to succeed.”
 
Last spring, the CTU led a coalition of education advocates, parents and unions in the creation of new state laws to offset charter school operations that have lacked accountability for decades and have failed to demonstrate innovation in pedagogy and curriculum. As the CTU continues to push for reform in Illinois charter school law and increased responsibility to the public from charter networks, it welcomes the commitment of teachers at North Lawndale College Prep, Urban Prep and other charter institutions who are intent on ensuring transparency and accountability in their schools.

CPS Schools Closed Thursday, February 19

by ctu communications  |  February 18, 2015

Wednesday evening, the CTU learned that Chicago Public Schools will be closed Thursday, February 19, due to dangerous weather conditions.

  • Teachers and PSRPs and non-52 week personnel should NOT report to work tomorrow. 
  • Principals, Assistant Principals, Engineers, custodians and other 52 week employees should report to work tomorrow. 
  • Network and Central Offices will be opened. Fifty-two week employees should report there as well.
Information regarding class make-up days will follow when decisions on that have been made.

Chicago Federation of Labor disappointed over Governor Rauner’s inability to responsibly address Illinois’ budget

by chicago federation of labor  |  February 18, 2015

Today, Governor Rauner presented a budget that eliminates services, programs and securities that are vital to the health, prosperity and well-being of the children, adults and seniors across the state of Illinois. “We are deeply disappointed that Governor Rauner has chosen to slash his way through the state budget, rather than explore new revenue streams in an effort to save essential programs,” said Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez. “The voters of Illinois elected Rauner to bring people together in an effort to develop a balanced and fair system that creates economic opportunities for all. At a time when we should be supporting the economic mobility of workers and businesses, he is purposefully dividing these two interests, encouraging practices that will ultimately increase income disparity.”

Rauner’s proposed budget takes a direct aim at the marginalized and vulnerable segments of our society and the workers who serve on the frontlines carrying out the necessary and meaningful work that our communities depend on to survive. His irresponsible cutting spree is his aim at the fundamental and necessary programs that support low-income and homeless children, the mentally and physically disabled, veterans assistance, and the mass transit systems employers and employees rely on every day, to name a few. The problem is the need for these services will not decrease as the funding is reduced. In fact, it will continue to rise as economic disparity in our state continues to increase. Governor Rauner is leaving our most vulnerable sectors without the necessary funding, creating an environment that will produce an even bigger burden to the budget.

One of his proposed savings streams is to severely underfund workers’ pensions. What he is neglecting to acknowledge is Illinois workers have faithfully paid into the system with the understanding that when they retire, they would receive a modest pension for their years of dedicated service to the state. These pensions ensure that those who have dedicated decades to their career don’t live in poverty in their golden years. In recent weeks, we have seen Governor Rauner systematically vilify and malign state workers, blaming them for Illinois’ current financial crisis. He wants to undercut the decent pay, affordable health care and retirement security that our nurses, teachers, snowplow and school bus drivers have rightfully earned. Rauner’s approach will diminish thousands of workers’ retirement benefits by converting what was a guaranteed security of a pension to a riskier 401(k)-style retirement plan. In fact, 401(k)-type plans were never intended to be the sole security retirement benefit for workers; they were merely intended as a supplement.

Since taking office, Governor Rauner has stressed the notion of working together to solve Illinois’ financial crisis and that it will need to be a shared sacrifice. However, the budget he has presented shows he chooses not to reconcile his actions with his words. This is not a thoughtful budget aimed at growing the economy and expanding the middle class. He chooses to shield large corporations from their fiscal responsibilities by failing to acknowledge the impact corporate tax loopholes have on the budget. Corporations in Illinois need to have a vested interest in the well-being of their employees and begin to contribute their fair share to Illinois’s economic climate.

Governor Rauner needs to stop running down the people of Illinois. His budget is an insult to the working people who elected him as our governor and will prove to be a greater detriment to the state.

Response to Bruce Rauner’s Budget Address

by ctu communications  |  February 18, 2015

CHICAGO—In response to today’s budget address by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, the Chicago Teachers Union released the following statement:

Gov. Bruce Rauner famously said that he’s “been successful at everything [he’s] ever done.” Today’s budget address is no different. Gov. Rauner wants to be successful in destroying vitally necessary public services, including the state’s university system, drug treatment and breast cancer services, public transit and the Department of Children and Family Services. Evidently, Gov. Rauner wants to be successful at destroying Illinois’ economy, too. The lessons from Greece, Ireland, Italy and Kansas all show that public government austerity budgets don’t work to fix the economy, and unnecessarily and dramatically exacerbate human suffering. The experiences in California and Minnesota show the clearest alternative forward: Raise revenue from those most able to pay and the state’s economy can grow and prosper. This contrast points to the real issue: Gov. Rauner most wants to be successful at shoveling money to himself and his wealthy supporters. The tax cuts Bruce Rauner wholeheartedly supports overwhelmingly benefit the privileged few at the top of Illinois’ economy; the vast majority gains practically nothing and loses dramatically. Rauner’s thoroughly disproven voodoo economics is an unacceptable attack on the working families of Illinois, and in his zero-sum world, “success” means failure for everyone else.

Budgets are statements of priorities and morals, and it is clear where the governor fails on both.

The Republican lawmaker claimed that this is an honest budget and that it’s make or break time. But that’s a deeply dishonest statement and his solution is evidently to break the state. He was crystal clear: Any consideration of revenue will only be tied to draconian reforms that harm working people. Like his good friend Rahm Emanuel, the governor is attempting to capitalize on a manufactured crisis rooted in his unwillingness to raise revenue from those who are most able to pay.

There are two clear realities of this budget proposal. The first is that budget cuts will hit every segment of government operations, even those that get an “increase” in funding. The education funding “hike” comes at the expense of other public services on which students depend.  Research is clear that out-of-school factors have huge impacts on students’ ability to learn and grow during school. Thousands of students across the city have transportation challenges, so cuts to public transportation mean that more students will miss days of attendance, negatively impacting their achievement. Rauner’s cuts to mental health only exacerbate the effects of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s cuts to mental health clinics. Students suffer as a result, as their traumas go untreated, as workloads increase for already over-taxed school counselors, and as family members are sent to jail rather than to treatment. The governor’s cuts to Medicaid ensure that students’ loved ones, often the family’s primary caregiver and source of support, will lose access to healthcare; consequently these students’ ability to be in school and concentrate when there declines. In a Rauner budget, students will be clearly harmed.

The second reality is that this budget proposal is primarily an attack on women and people of color. In Chicago, where 85% of public school students are low-income and 90% of those learners are students of color, Rauner’s budget is a clear attack on already-decimated communities on the South and West sides of the city. In what can only be deemed a “surprise,” the governor did the same thing to women that he blamed Pat Quinn for: slashing public services and decimating good jobs. Mr. Rauner’s proposal to slash the retirement security of active teachers is a direct attack on women and people of color. Women make up 75% of Chicago Teachers Pension Fund members and 60% of Chicago Municipal Fund members. Furthermore, the proposed pension cuts come on top of school budget and job cuts that have decimated the percentage of Black teachers in the Chicago Public Schools. These combined measures most directly impact neighborhoods like Roseland, Mt. Greenwood, Morgan Park, Chatham, South Shore, Auburn-Gresham, and South Chicago. Public sector jobs undergird the economies in these neighborhoods, and as a result of his budget, these neighborhoods, already devastated by unemployment, foreclosures and the associated dramatic loss of wealth, are further sacrificed to ideology.

There is only one equitable solution to Illinois’ budget: Generate revenue from those most able to pay. A report issued this week from the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability pointed to the real impact of the reduction of the state’s income tax level – a massive transfer of wealth to the richest Illinoisans. Illinois is “broke” because the governor and his biggest supporters do not pay their fair share. The solutions continue to be clear. Rauner should advocate for a surcharge on millionaires. He should support a graduated income tax. He should propose eliminating tax loopholes that allow corporations to avoid hundreds of millions in Illinois taxes. He should assist municipalities’ finances by pledging to withhold state business from any bank that refuses to renegotiate toxic interest swaps. The governor provided practically no detail and proposed none of these revenue proposals.

Illinois’ success depends on the collective support of public services to fuel the entire state economy.

Taken collectively, Gov. Rauner’s proposal only worsens Illinois’ economic challenges and unnecessarily harms working people across the state. Evidently, successfully shaking up Springfield means more of the same discredited 1980s economic theory to benefit the wealthy. Way to go, ‘overnor.

Garcia promises education revolution in Chicago

by chicagoforchuy.com  |  February 18, 2015

Chicago — There’s a high cost to insider deal-making -- and Chicago schoolchildren are paying the price, says Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, a candidate for Chicago mayor. Commissioner Garcia promised an education revolution in Chicago if he wins election to City Hall this year, including smaller class sizes, more selective enrollment slots for gifted students and betterwrap-around services for students in need.

Garcia promised to accomplish this revolution by taking pay-to-play insider deals and big-finance profit-taking out of the public school system, noting that while Emanuel has raised property taxes for schools by the maximum allowed under the law, that additional revenue goes to bankroll education profiteers rather than students.

ILLUSTRATION: Chuy reads

“No issue is more important to the future of our city than the education of the 400,000 kids in our schools. I presented a detailed education plan in the fall, but I want to explain directly to residents exactly how our schools will be different under a Garcia administration,” the Commissioner said. “It starts with my commitment to end education profiteering once and for all.”

“The Emanuel administration has had four years to eliminate pay-to-play profit-taking. They have not done it, and they will not do it, because they view education as an opportunity for corporate insiders and big banks to profit,” said Garcia. “The names of the education profiteers are notorious: Deborah QuazzoGoldman SachsBank of AmericaJP Morgan Chase and Loop Capital among them. The only way to make the changes our schools need is to systematically disconnect these insiders from the education system. I will do that. Mayor Emanuel never will.”

Under Mayor Emanuel, pay-to-play policies and costly financial deals that benefit big finance at the expense of students have been standard operating procedure. Mayor Emanuel has backed a social impact bond deal that could double the cost to expand early childhood education in the city. As a top CPS official, Mayor Emanuel’s appointed school board president David Vitale pushed borrowing that has saddled the system with high-risk obligations that will cost taxpayers at least$100 million -- and could cost hundreds of millions of dollars more -- while benefitting some of the same big finance players that provoked the Great Recession. Mayor Emanuel has refused to either pursue legal options to challenge the deals or use the financial might of the third largest city in the nation to reduce the costs to taxpayers and schoolkids.

Garcia gathered at a press conference on Tuesday to demand the city challenge its bad bond deals, end insider pay-to-play schemes and support an elected school board that would be accountable first to residents and taxpayers, rather than big finance and insider contractors.

Tax Information for 2014

by CTU Communications  |  February 17, 2015

Many members have noted in completing tax returns that the earnings they took home from January to December 2013 were higher than their gross income for the 2014 calendar year. Despite the fact that our members’ yearly salaries have grown modestly each school year, shifts in our pay calendar mean that a larger proportion of our members’ year-to-year salary will be paid out to them in 2013 and 2015 than in 2014.

This occurred for a variety of reasons:

  • The 2014-15 school year started later than previous years, meaning a larger portion of this school year’s salary will be paid after the new year than in other school years. This shifted some of the yearly income from 2014 into 2015.
  • The 2012-13 school year was the last year in which CPS held on to members’ deferred pay. That means CPS held pay for days worked in 2012 until after the 2012-13 school year had ended. This added significantly to the 2013 taxable total. Days worked for the fall of 2013 were paid out in full, since CPS did not withhold any deferred pay, which also contributed to 2013 gross income.
  • Our strike in the fall of 2012 resulted in more work days falling in 2013 than originally scheduled, this made members’ 2013 total earnings significantly higher.

If you have any questions regarding this, please contact Debby Pope.

Sunday Events: Counting Down to Election Day

by ctu communications  |  February 13, 2015

ILLUSTRATION: 10th Ward Flyer

ILLUSTRATION: EMS Fundraiser for Chuy

Chicago Teachers Union