Milwaukee in Solidarity with CTU

A message from MTEA:

The Chicago Teachers Union is holding a solidarity event at MTEA’s office (5130 W Vliet St) in Milwaukee on Monday, August 27th at 4:30.  The CTU organized an historic vote to authorize a strike—around 90% of members voted, with 98% of voters voting in favor—after a law was passed that raised the minimum requirement to 75%.  CTU delegate Debby Pope will be speaking about CTU’s potential strike in September, their outreach to the local community, the issues they face, and how allies in Milwaukee can support their efforts.  What happens in Chicago will affect workers, and especially teachers, everywhere.  So join us for what will surely be an informative and lively discussion.

Sponsored by Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, Educators Network for Social Justice, Local 212, and SEIU Local 1.

The Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) formed four years ago to mobilize teachers and parents against the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education’s plans to shut down dozens of schools, fire all employees, and turn the buildings over to privately run but publicly funded, unaccountable charter schools. As with all privatization efforts, this was primarily a drive to get rid of the union and negotiated work rules.

In June 2010 the CORE slate challenged the incumbent slate and won office. Starting in mid 2011 they began planning and implementing a contract campaign to turn their top-down union into a bottom-up, member-driven union.

Last year under the direction of Democratic Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, an anti-union bill was passed that mandated 75% of all CTU members must vote to authorize a strike, with all votes not cast counting as “no” votes. Supporters bragged that they had effectively eliminated the CTU’s right to strike as no large union could achieve this.

In May 2012 the contract campaign’s success became evident when 6,000 teachers marched in downtown Chicago, surprising politicians and media pundits. In June 92% of the members turned out to vote, with 98% of those voting authorizing the leadership to call a strike.

Throughout this process, the union has worked tirelessly with community allies, supported other groups’ protests, worked closely with half a dozen parents’ groups, and won strong support in the city. The Mayor is clearly on the defensive.

While some gains have been made in negotiations, the Board refuses to negotiate over classroom issues central to the union’s mission: lower class sizes, more social workers and nurses, a library and air conditioning in every school, and more art, music, computer, and P.E. classes. And the Mayor demands merit pay replace regular pay raises.

Should there be a strike, it might not be short—the last strike in 1987 lasted 19 days. In that case, it will be vital to gain support in Milwaukee and other cities near Chicago.  So please come out and learn more about CTU’s course of action and help build solidarity for the teachers.

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