Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why Support Chicago Teachers at MORE event Thursday?

If you don't see the Chicago Teachers Union battle against all the forces arrayed against them as a seminal event in not only teacher union history, but in the entire labor movement, you are missing an essential point. Yes, Virginia, the success for failure of the CTU if they should strike will affect every single teacher here in NYC and nationally. Full information is a key ingredient for an active union and unionists.

That is why you should come to the solidarity event tomorrow night at 6:30:
The Murphy Institute
25 West 43rd Street, between 5th and 6th avenues
18th Floor, Room C/D

Talk to just about any teacher in Chicago and you will find them deeply informed on a wealth of issues. Compare that to the teachers here in NYC. The other day a teacher came to the MORE summer series and made the point about how her colleagues at her school had no idea as to what is going on. They thought PEP was a rally.

So a major component of the MORE movement is to share as much info with the members we can reach so they can make informed decisions and grow to take a more active role in a union that can be changed into something better.

Where do Chicago teachers stand on the possible upcoming strike?

We had lunch with a Chicago Teacher who is on the CORE steering committee last week. The buzzword is YBFS - You Better Fuck'n Strike.

This event is being echoed on other cities:
Hello friends,
If you haven't taken time to learn about what's happening in Chicago, please do so now!  Chicago has been the center of damaging public education reforms that have spread to communities all over the country...the Chicago Teachers Union is standing up to continued attacks and you won't learn about its perspective from any mainstream media outlets.  Below is information about the launch of a solidarity campaign project that I've been part of with the national network Teacher Activist Groups

If you're in the Providence area there is solidarity event next week (Thurs, 8/30, 6pm @ Rochambeau Library).
If you're in New York there is an event tomorrow (Thursday) that you should check out
If you're not in either of these areas, find out what's happening in your community, or organize your own event!

In the meantime, please forward widely, sign the pledge, share your testimony of support, and give to the Chicago teacher solidarity fund!
Karen Lewis speech to May 23 rally.

******* Please Forward Widely********

Solidarity with Chicago teachers!
Chicago teachers authorize strike! Come build solidarity & learn about the struggle

A discussion featuring a presentation by Kim Bowsky, a CORE activist and Al Ramirez, co-founder of CORE, both members of the Chicago Teachers Union. 

Thursday, August 23rd
6:30 p.m. 
at The Murphy Institute
25 West 43rd Street, between 5th and 6th avenues
18th Floor, Room C/D

Please also support Chicago Teachers by donating to the CTU Solidarity Fund at

Public schools, teachers and their unions are under attack throughout the country.  The drive to privatize our public schools and strip away teacher protections is only accelerating.   In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel canceled a promised 4% pay raise to Chicago teachers and proposed lengthening the school day by 20% with only a 2% raise.  In addition, Emanuel proposes implementing a merit pay system for teachers--a similar system in Baltimore has led to 60% of teachers receiving unsatisfactory ratings.  In response, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has refused to back down and has shown the power of solidarity, holding large rallies and forging alliances with community members.  The CTU is demanding smaller class sizes, fair pay and a diverse and fulfilling curriculum for Chicago students.  This spring, 90% of all CTU members voted to authorize a strike.  98% of those voting authorized a strike.   
The CTU's campaign has met with some initial success.  Emanuel recently agreed to hire almost 500 teachers, mostly arts, PE and enrichment teachers.  These teachers will be hired from a pool of laid-off, experienced teachers.  The result is that a longer school day will not force teachers to work longer and harder with no compensation.

While this victory is inspiring, the CTU's strike preparations continue, as there has been no agreement on teacher pay, class sizes, merit pay and other important issues.  It is urgent that teachers, parents and community members show our solidarity with CTU.  We also have a lot to learn from CTU's struggle.

Come hear a presentation by CTU members and help organize solidarity for the Chicago teachers here in NYC!

Stand with CTU! 

Sponsored by (list in formation):  Movement of Rank and File Educators, Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence, Coalition for Public Education, Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), Labor Notes, New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE), New York City Labor Against the War, OWS Labor Outreach Committee, Independent Community of Educators (ICE), Teachers Unite

Contact to help organize the event or to co-sponsor



Some of us from ICE are meeting before the meeting at 3PM at a diner not far away (email me for details if you would like to join us). Now that ICE is removing itself from formal union politics as a caucus running in UFT elections and not having to be concerned with building an organization (with many ICEers working with MORE) ICE is able to have open, informative discussions over the many issues we face. People say that ICE meetings are the most open and relaxed without time pressure, thus allowing us to drill deep.

One of the CORE speakers skyping in will be Al Ramirez who is one of the people from Chicago I know best. Al was a chapter leader back in 2008 when he went to the mic at the House of Delegates meeting (their DA) and expressed a strong point of view. Jackson Potter, another building rep and the guy considered the key organizer behind CORE, went over to introduce himself and talk about going to school closing hearings and making some videos. Al has a video business on the side and jumped on board. And thus was born a new activism in the Chicago Teachers Union.

One difference between Chicago/CORE caucus and NYC/Unity Caucus is how the unions educate and informs its members and the degree of trust the members have in the union leaders. For instance, you will hear how the new leaders of the CTU union took a large pay cut when they took power 2 years ago as a demonstration to the members of their commitment to change. Until we have a similar movement built up here in NYC as in Chicago, the union will continue to drag us into ed deform.

Just one more reason for you all to join with MORE to build a movement, not just to win an election but to change the point of view of as many teachers in our city as possible that only by being an active participant in our union can we stop the ed deform juggernaut.

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