The collaborative and other neighborhood groups were working with CTU President Karen Lewis and her caucus years before she ran and beat the CTU old liners. That partnership helped lay the groundwork for her election..... They are the shadow strikers. Behind the bullhorns and police lines, hundreds of community organizers and their compatriots strategized, marched and danced last week in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union. Quiet as it’s kept, the city’s robust community-organizing movement has been a potent sister act for the CTU. --- SunTimes
The comment and the article below illustrate the work that unions in today's world must do to win anything.
Indeed, when we were forming the Grassroots Education Movement in January 2009 we heard about a GEM in Chicago that was aligned with the CORE Caucus and we adopted the name GEM here in NYC. GEM here is not the same as Chicago GEM, which was not a teacher oriented group but a coalition of community groups.
From a comment on the MORE Discussion list
The article linked below high lights some things about the Chicago struggle that I think are very important.
One of the most important lessons from Chicago, for me, is that it is possible for unions in the US to use strikes around contracts and collective bargaining as just one tactic in a larger ongoing strategy around a larger program of demands that are in the interests of all working people. Democratized, militant unions, in this strategic framework, become one player -- albeit a major, leading player -- within a larger movement involving other people and organizations, and a political campaign to change legislation and build political power.
I have not really seen unions do this in the US before. The strike and the contract are seen as settling certain specific issues, within a much larger agenda that goes far beyond the members of the union. This is what it means to politicize day-to-day problems beyond the union contract. It also presents an incredible example of how to break down barriers between teachers and working people in general.
In Chicago community organizations "were working with CTU President Karen Lewis and her caucus years before she ran and beat the CTU old liners.... The organizers are leveraging the strike to elevate causes that can’t be negotiated in the teachers’ contract. Things like smaller class sizes, an enriched curriculum, even “fighting to have books available on the first day of class”.... After the settlement, organizers can mount a citywide campaign to address the formidable list of concerns left on the table. The likely closing of dozens of public schools by next summer. Stark inequities in school resources. Crushing, unceasing street violence. “I wish a contract could settle everything, but it’s a much longer fight,”
Below the break I included the entire article: