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CTU Update: Rank and file dump old leadership, PACT sweeps elections!

Here is some news from Substance that you won't read in the newspapers for a couple of more days.
Tom Reece and the incumbent leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union have been dumped by vote of the union's membership.

The final tallies of the voting in the May 18, Chicago Teachers Union election will not be announced until Friday, May 25.

At this time, however, tallies of the ballots shows that the incumbent leaders of the fourth largest local in the American Federation of Teachers have been decisively defeated in their bid to return to power.

An opposition caucus -- PACT -- which includes some of the most outspoken opponents of the Vallas administration and its mindless commitment to standardized testing has been elected to all major offices in the 34,000-member Chicago Teachers Union.

First indications of the size of the landslide which took place when teachers and other union members voted in their schools last Friday are now in.

With 99 percent of the votes tabulated on what is called the "long ballot", at 5:00 p.m. yesterday (May 22), the following numbers (and percentages) were known from reliable sources:

PACT (the challenger slate, headed by Marquette Elementary teacher Deborah Lynch Walsh) had 11,272 votes, or roughly 56 percent of the total vote.

The United Progressive Caucus (CTU President Tom Reece's incumbent slate) had 8,746 votes, a bit less than 44 percent of the vote. Since the 1970s, the "UPC" (as Reece's caucus is known) has been the local version of the American Federation of Teachers national "Progressive Caucus" which is currently headed by AFT president Sandy Feldman.

Because more than 4,000 CTU members are in categories (generally, retirees) which are not eligible to vote in citywide elections for officers, the total number of eligible voters on May 18 was a bit less than 30,000 union members. The number of teachers and union members voting has been between 21,000 and 23,000 in most elections and referendums for the past ten years.

These numbers and percentages are known based on the tally of the ballots cast on the "long" (convention delegate) ballot at election time last week. Members of the Chicago Teachers Union cast their votes on two separate ballots. A "short" ballot is used to elect candidates for citywide offices (president, vice president, financial secretary, recording secretary, and treasurer) and the members of the executive board representing the various "functional groups" (high school teachers, elementary teachers, etc.) within the union.

A longer ballot is used to elect delegates to the conventions of the American Federation of Teachers and Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Since 1984, when Substance first began following the details of union elections, this tally has reflected the outcome of the city-wide vote for union officers. The percentages of votes on the convention slate is usually the same as the percentages on the ballot for officers.

This means that the opposition slate has won a victory for all citywide offices. Details of the elections in the functional groups will not be available for a few more days. Substance exit polls (which continue to come in) show that PACT won the high school teacher vote (at the more than 90 Chicago high schools) overwhelmingly (at some, by votes of 100 or more to ten or less). PACT has also apparently been winning the voting among elementary teachers by a slight majority.

When the officers of the Chicago Teachers Union take office on July 1, the president will be Deborah Lynch Walsh, formerly of Marquette Elementary School; the vice president will be Howard Heath, formerly of Lane Technical High School, and the majority of other elected officials of the union will come from a non-incumbent caucus for the first time in more than 30 years.

The current union leadership has supported Chicago's testocratic version of "school reform" since Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was given dictatorial power over the schools in 1995. CTU president Tom Reece received the support of Paul Vallas, of the city's business weekly (Crain's Chicago Business) and, in an unprecedent move for a local union election, the endorsement of the city's second largest circulation daily newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times. In an editorial on May 17, the Sun-Times told the teachers they should vote for Reece and continue to act responsibly by following the Vallas administration.

There will be thousand of details to follow. Tom Reece, Norma White, Pam Massarsky, Melvin Wilson, Michael Williams, and the other officers of the Chicago Teachers Union who collaborated with Paul Vallas and with the teacher bashing and testocracies of the Daley administration are now entitled to return to their teaching jobs at the schools where they worked before they went on leave to work full time for the union. In some cases, these people have not been inside public school classroom as teachers since Jimmy Carter was President of the United States.

Deborah Lynch Walsh, Howard Heath, and the other newly elected officers of the largest union local in Illinois are supposed to take office July 1. At that time, they will official begin serving their three-year terms and will be on leave from their teaching jobs.

George N. Schmidt

Editor, Substance

5132 W. Berteau

Chicago, IL 60641





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