Chicago Teachers Union officials are expected to announce Monday that they have handily met a new 75 percent strike authorization threshold, despite a blitzkrieg of emails and ads against the action, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
The union concluded three days of voting Friday and a weekend of ballot counting by meeting its tougher new strike threshold “easily” and “overwhelmingly,’’ sources told the Sun-Times.
Although the vote moves the CTU one step closer to its first strike since 1987, union officials have repeatedly cautioned that they hope to use any strike authorization vote to catalyze movement at the bargaining table and resolve talks before the opening day of next school year.
In addition, before the nation’s third-largest school system goes on strike, the union’s House of Delegates would have to set a strike date.
A new Chicago-only law backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Stand for Children and others switched the margin needed for any CTU strike authorization from a simple majority of all those who voted to 75 percent of all eligible CTU voters. That meant failure to vote amounted to a “no’’ vote. As a result, several schools reported 100 percent of their CTU members had cast ballots.
And although some have raised questions about the integrity of the CTU’s voting procedure, the number to be announced Monday will “lay to rest the question” of whether the CTU “got it legitimately. It’s not even close,’’ said one source.
The action defies predictions of one force behind the law that created the new threshold. Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children bragged last year that “the union cannot strike in Chicago. They will never be able to muster the 75 percent threshold needed to strike.’’ [emphasis mine]If this were a mob movie, Jonah would be called into a dark, wood-paneled room. Sitting behind a desk would be the Pritzkers and Ken Griffin and Sam Zell and the incompetent James Crown, playing the role of "Fredo."
Jonah would be shaking in his boots, nervously trying to conjure up his former smugness while lamely attempting to explain where the money from the Five Families went off to - money he promised would guarantee the screwing of Chicago teachers, once and for all:
Oh, I can see the shot now... Penny Pritzker, leaning over a huge oak desk, pointing her finger at little, stammering Jonah: "You told us they couldn't strike! You promised us they couldn't strike! You know what we do with lieutenants who break their promises?!"
But our next proposal – next best, which was a very high threshold for strikes, for whatever reason – tactical miscalculation on her part — was palatable. Rahm pushed it; Kimberly Lightford pushed it; we’d done our homework – we knew that the highest threshold of any bargaining unit that had voted one way or the other on a collective bargaining agreement on a contract vote was 48.3%. The threshold that we were arguing for was three-quarters, so in effect they couldn’t have the ability to strike even though the right was maintained. And so in the endgame, the Chicago Teachers Union took that deal, misunderstanding, probably not knowing the statistics about voting history – and the length of day and year was no longer bargainable in Chicago. And we insisted that we decide all the fine print about the process – she was happy to let us do that.
With the unions then on board, the IEA and the IFT were relieved to have a deal. They came out strongly in support of this agreement, which was this wholesale transformational change, and with that support there was no reason for any politician to oppose it. So the Senate backed it 59-0, and then the Chicago Teachers Union leader started getting pushback from her membership for a deal that really probably wasn’t from their perspective strategic. She backed off for a little while but the die had been cast – she had publicly been supportive – so we did some face-saving technical fixes in a separate bill – but the House approved it 112-1. And a liberal Democratic governor who was elected by public sector unions – that’s not even debatable – in fact signed it and took credit for it. So we talk about a process that ends up achieving transformational change – it’s going to allow the new mayor and the new CEO [of Chicago schools] to lengthen the day and year as much as they want. The unions cannot strike in Chicago. They will never be able to muster the 75% threshold necessary to strike. And the whole framework for discussing impact – you know, what compensation is necessary – is set up through the fine print that we approved to ensure that the fact-finding recommendations, which are nonbinding, will favor what we would consider to be common sense. [emphasis mine]
Cue the trumpet...
Seriously, I really wonder if these Masters of the Universe ever stop for a minute and think about what they are getting for their money:
Jonah's raking in more than a Chicago teacher could ever dream of making - but he's so bad at what he does! After throwing around literally millions of dollars, he can't even deliver what he promised. The Chicago teachers saw right through his smarmy, self-satisfied hustle, and they called him on it. Good for them.
These guys and gals like Jonah are clowns. They speak with phony authority on topics they know nothing about. They are an embarrassment to themselves and their leash holders.
The only people who look more foolish than they do are the people who write their paychecks. But I have to wonder: how long is that going to continue?
You broke my heart, Jonah...
ADDING: How did this happen? Mike Klonsky has a clue (and a Godfather reference - great minds...):
Sitting at a coffee shop a few days ago, I was asked by some friends, how I felt about teachers taking a strike vote. They couldn't understand, especially in these tough times, why any teacher would want to go on strike. I told them about what I saw at the CTU rally a few weeks ago and why I left the rally and march of thousands of teachers, feeling certain that any strike vote taken would surpass the 75% needed to authorize a strike.
The revelation came to me after interviewing a group of young, white, women, suburban-raised and schooled, teachers in the crowd at Grant Park. From what I could tell, many of them had only been teaching for a few years and none of them probably even knew anyone who belonged to a union, say 5 years ago. Now here they stood in the park, fists in the air singing along with thousands of other teachers, the old IWW tune, Solidarity forever, for the union makes us strong.
As we marched down Michigan Ave. and then up Adams St. past CPS headquarters, they chanted strike, strike, strike until union march monitors waved for them to cool the chant. After all, the union doesn't want to risk a strike unless there's no other option. But these young teachers had had enough and were ready to put it all on the line for the future of their profession.
I asked my friends, "what do you think the mayor would have to do to turn these teachers, who went into the profession for the love of teaching, into union militants? After a short review of Rahm's war on unions and on the teaching profession, I think they got it.
If there is a more arrogant jerk than Jonah Edelman, it's Rahm Emanuel. They both deserve everything that's coming their way.