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Welcome back to a new school year!

by Karen GJ Lewis - CTU President  |  09/04/2017

I hope this message finds you well, rested and ready for another school year! I want to thank you personally for all the work you do to educate our students and keep our union strong. You are truly the backbone of public education for youth in this city, and priceless partners in the effort to improve conditions in our schools and our communities.

Recent Contract Enforcement Wins

We’re proud to inform you that we’ve won some powerful recent victories for our members, including:

  • protecting the job of a whistle-blower,
  • securing the right for all teachers with two half-time positions to be afforded the rights of a full-time teacher,
  • revising grading procedures to provide for more teacher autonomy and less paperwork while still ensuring fair and valid feedback for students, and
  • limiting excessive testing.

As we begin this year, the new contract books are being delivered to your school. Please take some time to read over the contract—it contains protections of our basic rights, the terms and conditions of our work, as well as many new provisions. Enforcing our rights at work is a major focus of our efforts that can only be accomplished if you know your rights and assert them. If you think a provision of your contract is being violated, talk to your delegate or your field representative immediately.

Check out September’s Chicago Union Teacher (the “CUT”) for more information on these wins—and on how to work with your delegates, your Professional Problems Committees and colleagues to improve working conditions using our contract. Our officers and our union staff, including field representatives and organizers, are here to help you use the contract to improve our collective strength and win better working conditions for members and better educational opportunities for students. United we stand, with our growing family of allies, to strengthen our gains and fight not only for our rights, but for the schools our students deserve.

Vote on Charter Merger and Constitution Changes

We’ll be voting this fall on merging with union charter teachers, who voted overwhelmingly last spring to join the Chicago Teachers Union. A ‘yes’ vote will give us the ability to cooperate more closely on shared issues, and derail management’s efforts to undermine CTU members by exploiting charter educators. A rising tide lifts all boats, and one big union thwarts the divide-and-conquer strategy of Mayor Emanuel and Governor Rauner.

We’ll also be voting on changes to our constitution in December that will make this unification possible, improve representation for smaller schools in the House of Delegates, and allow our union to innovate and grow under a new set of conditions. Look for more information about those changes in the coming weeks and months.

“Re-card and Resist”

We’re jump-starting our “Re-card and Resist to Build Union Power” campaign in order to undercut an expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Janus case, which is designed to destroy our ability to fight for workplace parity, anti-discrimination policies, fair wages and better working conditions. We’re calling on all teachers, PSRPs, clinicians and others covered by our contract to reaffirm your membership and support for the union. Re-card—that is, sign up using our new membership card—everyone who is eligible for CTU, even if you are already a member! We want to reach 100 percent in every school, so look for more information from your delegate and in the back-to-school issue of the CUT.

Legislative Fight Continues

While we’re disappointed that our lawmakers caved to right-wing ideologue Bruce Rauner and created a tax shelter for the wealthy and a voucher program, we believe the new evidence-based school funding formula is a step in the right direction—as we have always said—and brings us closer to at last adequately designating public dollars to fund the schools that Chicago’s students deserve.

Through our fight we have won our schools almost half a billion dollars in revenue—the second year in a row we’ve used our political reach to bring substantial dollars to classrooms. We are also redoubling our efforts to force Mayor Emanuel to adequately fund our schools.

Solidarity Friday

We want to continue to share our solidarity every Friday with a sea of red in our schools as we renew our Solidarity Friday campaign – so post your pictures to Twitter with @CTULocal1 in the message and hashtag #SolidarityFriday, post pics to our Facebook page, or email pics to our comms team!

In solidarity,
Karen GJ Lewis, President
Chicago Teachers Union

Chicago Teachers Union