CTU Constitutional Changes:
Facing New Challenges, Building New Opportunities
Key proposed changes to our constitution and bylaws, to power up in an era of continued attacks on public education & labor and build strategies to win for our members and our students.
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CTU dues: update structure & make fairer for members, no matter your income
- Article IV: Dues; will establish a structure for charter teachers, make it easier for cadre, members on leave and day-to-day substitute teachers to be CTU members with a lower dues structure. Changes to help sign up fair share members in the event of anti-union Supreme Court decision. Retired members’ dues have not changed for decades, will increase to correspond to inflation.
Making our elected bodies more representative, inclusive, organized and prepared for future attacks on the labor movement
- Article XIII: House of Delegates; gives every school a voting delegate, even if there are fewer than 20 teachers at that school.
- Article XVII: Elections; clarifies procedures to fill vacancies for associate delegates and other city-wide positions.
- Changes title of District Supervisors to District Organizers, and clarifies their roles and geography.
Building our power by joining with our sisters and brothers in charter schools
- Article I: Preamble change to allow new members into the CTU.
- Article III: Update to recognize all CTU members including all counselors, clinicians and charter school members.
- Merge with the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff and amend representation, dues and governance to reflect these new CTU members.
Charting a course for a stronger and more just Chicago
- Article I: Preamble change to include social, racial and economic justice for our members, students and their communities and the need for labor and community alliances in these struggles.
- Article VII: Executive Committee; shall employ a chief of staff under the direction of the president.
- Article XIV: Standing Committees; establishes that chairpersons and members of standing committees are appointed by president and approved by Executive Board for a term of two years.
- Consolidation and cleanup of language that is no longer valid, is duplicative or requires clarification.
- Article XVII: Offenses and Penalties; clarification of policy on strike breaking activity and consequences.
- Why change the Constitution and Bylaws now?
The CTU Constitution was drafted in the 1930s. It is strong and has withstood the test of time, but requires revisions in a few areas to allow the union to stay strong and grow under current conditions.
- Why are we discussing unification with the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teacher & Staff (ChiACTS)?
Unifying would support the growth of unions in every charter school in Chicago and build charter union contracts to the level of benefits in the CTU contract. It would help our contract at CPS set the standard for the city. A merged union would allow us to use our collective power politically and as a movement to advance public education and benefit the students and working families we serve. Our advocacy and efforts to organize unions in charter schools has slowed the momentum of privatization and will help to stop future school closings. For example, a CPS school recently opened in the Midway area – Richardson Middle – had been slated to be a charter before we helped to organize a union at UNO Charter School Network.
- Why unify with the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teacher & Staff (ChiACTS) and what would be the implications? What would change for CTU members and ChiACTS members?
Unification means that both CTU and ChiACTS members vote to become one merged union. Neither CTU nor ChiACTS contracts would change from the merger, but ChiACTS would continue as a division within the CTU. ChiACTS would retain its internal Council structures and contracts with each employer. ChiACTS would begin to elect representatives to CTU’s House of Delegates and Executive Board. Should members choose to unify, state law means that ChiACTS members would still have separate contracts from those of us who work for CPS. But those laws do not keep us from being in the same union or demanding the same conditions from our employers.
- How and when could unification happen?
Chicago ACTS members have already voted 84% in favor of joining the CTU. Now CTU members can vote and decide whether or not to accept our sisters and brothers in the charter local into our union. CTU officers are proposing that a ratification vote by CTU members occur in December 2017.
- Why unify now?
Together, we believe we can gain more power to organize new schools, to protect and raise the benefits in our contracts, and to win changes in our schools, city and society that benefit our students and profession. In a political and legal environment that is increasingly union-hostile, unification would provide additional solidarity and resources needed to accomplish our ambitious goals. We all benefit when we are not pitted against each other, but act instead on our shared interests. The city and state budget crisis requires broader and stronger forces to fight for public education.
- What are the benefits of unification for CTU members?
When ChiACTS members organize unions, they negotiate a contract and move public school funding out of management’s hands and into the classroom, in the form of resources for students and educator salaries. This decreases the financial incentive for charter proliferation, which has caused decreased enrollment, massive school closings, budget cuts, and layoffs at most schools in the last 10 years.
- How would this affect CTU financially?
ChiACTS full-time dues are currently $693 and will rise in coming months to better approximate the dues rate that CTU members currently pay. CTU would see an increase in number of members and associated revenue. In collaboration with the IFT, CTU is already providing grievance, bargaining and legal assistance to ChiACTS, helping them fight management abuse, organize strikes and raise contract standards. This will continue.
- Wait, I thought we were in conflict with charter schools?
ChiACTS members are educators who care for the same population of young people as we do. Our criticisms of charter proliferation, privatization, instability in our school system, school closings and turnarounds, and the lack of transparency and democracy in the charter model are shared by most ChiACTS members. A vote for unification would be a hugely significant act that allows all Chicago educators to speak with one voice and engage in solidarity to defend and advance our schools, public education, and the needs of all of the students and families we serve. We can support the educators currently at charter schools without endorsing the charter companies they work for. Coming together in one union, like they have in New York and Los Angeles, would be the natural next step in our advocacy for educators, students and public education.
- Why change the representation language for schools with less than 20 members, cadre, day-to-day, retirees, part-time teachers?
We are in the midst of one of the most vicious assaults on the American labor movement in the last 100 years. It makes sense to ensure that small schools have voting representation on our elected bodies, it makes sense to have low-paid members like substitute teachers pay PSRP dues instead of full teacher dues, and it makes sense to ensure that all members are paying equitable dues to fund a fighting organization in a time of great peril and real opportunity.
- Are the preamble changes technically necessary?
Not technically, but useful in order to reposition our union for the fights ahead. We cannot flourish if our students and their families are pushed out of the city because it is too violent or unaffordable. Educators cannot be successful if our schools are sabotaged, barren and bankrupt. We cannot advance our profession if we are not supported in our practice of the art and science of teaching and learning. The preamble changes suggested are to strengthen our commitment to racial, social and economic justice as a necessary and integral part of our work for a just and equitable education system.