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Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates flexes its muscle in contract fight; joins call for an elected police accountability council

CHICAGO –The Chicago Teachers Union’s governing body said it would encourage all 27,000 active members to vote “yes” for strike authorization when the organization conducts a three-day vote in all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) where members work, according to the House of Delegates (HOD).  State law requires a 75 percent of the entire CTU membership to approve strike authorization; and, voting will be conducted December 9 – 11 at the start and end of the school day in most buildings.

At the conclusion of the voting, ballots will be processed by the union’s Rules and Elections Committee and District Supervisors at CTU headquarters. The process will be monitored by several members of the clergy who will act as independent observers of the process.

CTU President Karen Lewis reminded union leaders, “Our ability to withhold our labor is our power,” she said.  “Teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians have told us they are tired of the contract stalemate facilitated by the Board. CPS has rejected all of our proposals, many of which have no cost associated with them. This is unacceptable and time to show them we are serious about fighting for our profession and for the students in our classroom.”

Added Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle, “We will continue the count until every vote is recognized and every member has had a chance to cast their ballot. This means if people are out on maternity or ill we will identify those members and work with them to have them cast their ballot. This is a democratic process and all voices will be heard.”

The Dec. 2nd HOD session also approved a resolution calling for a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) that will provide stricter and more transparent oversight on the pattern and practices of the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The ordinance would give the council the power to prosecute law enforcement officials who are guilty of committing a crime.  CPAC

“The CTU is not anti-police and never has been, contrary to the misinformation that’s being put out there by the leader of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP),” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “We were against what happened to Laquan McDonald and what has happened in the wake of the release of that horrific video. We are opposed to the cover-up that is going on. That is why we’ve joined people across this city and nation for a federal investigation into who knew what and when. Why did it take 400 days for this officer to be charged with murder? There are too many questions but all of them illustrate why the CTU supports a democratically elected civilian police accountability council. We have no confidence in the mayor’s hand-picked blue ribbon commission.”

The resolution reads:

WHEREAS, the city of Chicago, and indeed the nation has been shocked, saddened, and appalled by the November 24, 2015 release of a video that recounts the unjustifiable and fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, shot 16 times by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke on the evening of October 14, 2014, a full 13 months prior to the release of the tape; and

WHEREAS, many citizens continue to protest the acquittal of  Chicago police officer Dante Servin of manslaughter charges for the killing of Rekia Boyd on March 22, 2012, more than three years before the mayor and police chief finally called for his official termination; and

WHEREAS, while the CTU fully supports and respects Chicago police officers that perform their duties in a lawful manner, we are concerned that there have been numerous other incidents of unarmed citizens and youth in the city of Chicago dying as a result of unjustifiable police shootings and suspicious circumstances: Freddie Wilson (2007), Flint Farmer (2011), and Dakota Bright (2012) to name a few from a much longer list; and

WHEREAS, the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), established in 2007 to replace the Office of Professional Standards (OPS), is reported to have only sustained 1% of thousands of allegations of police misconduct, which may indicate a bias in perspective and judgment; and

WHEREAS, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) as a matter of our commitment to the fair treatment of all citizens in the city of Chicago and our faith and commitment to the democratic process, has openly supported democratic bodies within the Chicago Public School system such as the Local School Council (LSC), Professional Personnel Leadership Committee (PPLC), and an Elected Representative School Board (ERSB); therefore be it

RESOLVED, as a matter of principle and consistency that the CTU support a public initiative for a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC); and be it further

RESOLVED, that the CTU will publicly advocate for such a council and ask that due research, thought, and open public dialogue be devoted to the creation of these councils at the district level.

Chicago Teachers Union