Straw Poll Strike Votes

I first started hearing about practice strike votes a week or so ago, and should have posted about them then but I couldn't get confirmation they were taking place and wondered if publicizing was useful or just part of CTU saber-rattling (not that there's anything wrong with saber-rattling).  But they've been happening, obviously, and they're being reported, as in this NBC story saying that pro-strike votes at a couple of high schools (Lane and Taft) have been high (Chicago Teachers Take Mock Strike Vote).  So what do you think, about teachers potentially going on strike, on going through the straw vote process (how's it conducted, by the way?), and about the tactic of publicizing the votes?  (What happens, I wonder, to votes that come out against going on strike -- do we ever get to see those?)  Last but not least, do you think the prospects are for an actual strike, given the ratcheted-up requirements agreed to in SB7?  We all know Rod Estvan thinks it's going to really hard for CTU to reach the 75 percent level but others in comments over the weekend seemed to disagree.



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  • "Don't scab for the bosses, don't listen to their lies. Us folks haven't got a chance unless we organize..."

  • In reply to district299reader:

    i take this to mean that the vote didn't look good at your school?

  • After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.

    A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue.

    Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

    When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.

    No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with.

    Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

    Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.

    Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver.

    Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commision in the british army.

    The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.

    Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country.

    A scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class.

    Author --- Jack London (1876-1916)

  • And even lower than a scab are those two-legged jackals in both CPS and CTU who collude to lock out a few thousand excellent teachers who were laid off the last few years -- the CPS with its "DNH" lists and the CTU with its supportive seminar on the "how to's" of home foreclosure.

    Author -- Leaving You All to Wallow in Your Swill

  • In reply to district299reader:

    this is getting boring -- there'll be time enough for scab talk later; her and now we're talking strike votes. what was the vote at your school?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You mean Marilyn Stewart sold out the teachers to CPS. BTW, where is she hiding these days.

  • These mock votes have been taken at a lot more than the two schools reported on. All the results I have seen have been from 85% to 100%.

  • Hey Alex- Do you think we'd be dumb enough to reveal ANYTHING regarding mock strike votes to the public? CTU leadership can decide what to reveal, but rest assured virtually every teacher I talk to supports a strike.

    I can tell you that Emanuel is worried. The city has hired MRS to conduct phone surveys of CPS teachers regarding a strike. It isn't ethical for the board to share my personal information with this polling firm, nor is it ethical for the city to use our tax dollars for political maneuvering but as we know Emanuel and his underlings lack ethics.

  • Catalyst's story on strike votes:

  • In reply to SarahKarp:

    thanks, sarah -- 15 schools have voted, according to the story, and CTU is officially distancing itself from the votes.

    anyone have a list of delegates? maybe i'll start calling around.

  • if teachers want us to believe that they've taken strike votes and that the votes have been pro-strike, then they need to tell us more than "we did it." otherwise, why should we believe (or write about) it?

    let's start with some details -- how are the votes conducted, and what is the text of the strike question?

  • Alex- much of your blogging is based on rumor and conjecture. Now you want "facts" and "evidence"... what you need another anonymous comment for confirmation? Here ya go 200% of teachers at Filmore High voted in favor of a strike.

    Anyways, who said the purpose of the mock vote is to get the public to believe we are pro-strike. The purpose of mock votes is for the union to get an idea on how much support a strike has. My guess is well over 75%.

  • Do strikes generally lead to a shortened school year, or working next summer?

  • In reply to Donn:

    No. State law requires a minimum number of student attendance days by June 30 of a school year. Breaks can be shortened (or eliminated), but the district must meet that minima.

  • In reply to Donn:

    This strike will lead to the end of middle class enrollment in CPS, vouchers or both.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Baloney. The strike won't last long and in the end students and CTU will win. Remember, many of the parents out on the front lines with the teachers are solidly middle class. They know a strike has to happen to force Emanuel to stop selling Chicagoans out.

  • i wouldn't be getting emails about the votes, and wouldn't be printing stories about the votes, if folks inside CTU didn't want it known. i've asked them what the question is and what the format looks like, but feel free to tell me ahead of time.

  • At least 31% of the teaching force in CPS is below the age of 34 as of June 2010. Forty percent of all people under 30 have outstanding student loans, and the average outstanding debt is $23,300. About 10 percent of borrowers owe more than $54,000 and 3 percent owe more than $100,000. According to research done by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as many as 27 percent of the 37 million college loan borrowers have past-due balances of 30 days or more. There is no reason to believe younger CPS teachers are in any better shape than their peers.

    For this critical demographic what are CTU's estimates on straw votes and what percentage of these younger teachers actually voted (recall every non-vote is a no vote)?

    At the 18 AUSL schools there are about 570 eligible to vote CTU members or about 2.5% of the district's 22,257 teachers in 2011, what was the straw vote at these schools? What about Teach for America alumni working in traditional CPS schools what were the votes for that subgroup. If the union doesn't have a clue about these very unique subgroups it should before it calls any strike vote.

    As Alexander has correctly stated I have very big reservations on the CTU's ability to generate a 75% vote of its membership for a strike should it come to that. But I will add the stories I am hearing about absurdly low salary offers being made for a proposed three year contract with a longer instructional day certainly may get many teachers mad. But I think those offers also reflect the power CPS now believes it has and its estimation of the union's ability to even win a strike vote let alone carry out a prolonged strike.

    I would suspect that the firm CPS is using, Franczek Radelet, has already began to examine this issue. As the firm states on its website: "We help our clients formulate specific negotiating objectives and a strategy to achieve those objectives. We understand that conducting tough, but focused, negotiations is the best way to set the tone for a productive workplace. We regularly serve as the employer’s chief spokesperson during contract negotiations. We are equally comfortable serving as back room strategists and advisors. "

    If any vote is too close to call, it would be wise not to call a strike vote and effectively accept a stalemate with working conditions imposed based on SB7 rather than to call a strike and lose the vote. I can assure you all Franczek Radelet and CPS are studying all these issues carefully and the CTU better be too. Ranting about scabs does not equate to the general staff of a union examining a battle it is about to enter and the future of all its members. I would very much like to see a serious discussion on this blog of this very important issue that Alexander has raised.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    At least 31% of the teaching force in CPS is below the age of 34 as of June 2010. Forty percent of all people under 30 have outstanding student loans, and the average outstanding debt is $23,300. About 10 percent of borrowers owe more than $54,000 and 3 percent owe more than $100,000. According to research done by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as many as 27 percent of the 37 million college loan borrowers have past-due balances of 30 days or more. There is no reason to believe younger CPS teachers are in any better shape than their peers.
    Nobody can afford a strike, but there is a lot more to this than statistics .Corner a rat and watch what happens. While a strike may seem illogical to the organized mind It seems the only way out to front lineteachers. Anyone that thinks most teachers will not go because of
    outstanding loans needs a history lesson. Every time we went out on
    strike people suffered financially .But that didn’t keep us in school.
    Are these young teachers any different than us old ones? If we go we
    will all go. But personally I think a strike will not occur.
    In 1993 we were all set to walk out when a federal judge imposed
    an injunction preventing the strike on the grounds that some decree
    obliged us to integrate the schools and a strike would prevent us
    from doing that. Add SB7 into the mix and a 75% vote to go,
    while a slam dunk, is just the first step we will be tied up in court forever.
    No , the CTU is dead .It died a slow death .

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, I will be at the next CTU delegate meeting. It should be interesting!

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    The results have been better than you think. This is an initiative that has been taken on by delegates themselves not CTU sanctioned. It has been more than 15 schools also. When delegates share their numbers they share the number of yes, no and non votes. Every tally that has been shared has been over 80%. I think you, the mayor and CPS as well, are underestimating teachers in Chicago. We are tired of being scapegoated. I have a lot of respect for you Rod but you are off on this one.
    As for AUSL schools, I can tell you that at least two took a vote and one of them got 100%. Just because they work in AUSL schools doesn't mean they don't care. They want teaching to be a profession that one can be a part of as a career. CPS is trying to destroy that.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Yours was one of the most interesting posts on the issue of the test strike votes taken. I would be very interested to know which of the 18 AUSL schools voted 100% to strike. I would suggest that if you actually released that information it would be a major story in the media, in particular if teachers at this school were willing to discuss it.

    There is a post below that indicates that the test votes were not formally approved by the CTU. So I have to assume at this point the CTU does not have the voting data on a school by school basis to examine. If these votes are so overwhelming in favor of a strike as is being argued then revealing the vote counts on a school by school basis can only improve the union's position in the contract discussions.

    It does seem hard to disagree that given what we know of the CPS proposals that the district is not taking a strike possibility too seriously as this point. It would also be helpful if teachers got media time explaining why they feel given the situation of a longer school day without much compensation and the other aspects of SB7 that they are willing to strike. I can understand how teachers could be fearful of CPS actions against particularly militant schools, but it seems that the school district will be finding out the vote counts sooner or later so what is the difference.

    Rod Estvan

  • Personally, I've always enjoyed a combination of rant and data...multiple domains, differentiated instruction, et al.

  • 'I'd spit in their eye before I'd vote for anything but a strike!' (Robert Healey, CTU President, 1980)

  • In reply to district299reader:

    What he said in front of the cameras and
    What he did come contract time were two
    different things.
    We used to call a rant like his
    “ Tomming the folks” that means telling people
    just what they want to hear.

  • Strike! strike! Strike!

  • In reply to We matter:

    Just pay us the 24% for the increase in scheduled hours, plus the 4% they robbed from us this year, and there will be no problem. To settle for anything less would be ridiculous. It would take a lifetime to gain back what we would lose if we give into the board's demands. We held a mock strike vote at our school. A vote to strike won by 97%.

  • Teachers would be fools to accept a longer day and no more pay. How many punches can they take??? The Board and Da Mayor keep kicking Karen and her team, (and the teachers indirectly) but what we all must be aware of is: The teachers have the power!!!! they've forgotten that. This could be Rahm's snow-storm. There's never been a time when they didn't get respect when they went on strike. In the spirit of Jackie Vaughn, the late Prez with the kahunas, teachers....... do what you gotta do.

  • At our school, a vote was taken in the same manner any CTU election has. Our delegate informed us a vote would take place and the date it would happen. When arriving at school there was a list of all CTU members. We signed our near, recieceved a slip of paper asking if we would support a strike should CTU leadership call for a strike, we marked the box ( mine was yes only because they didn't have a hell yes) and the votes were placed in a box. Everything was official and done on the up ad up.

    Rod, the union can hold as many votes as they want, and a strike won't last more than 1 month, so anyone with student loans can do a deferment or forbearance. And if the union gets 60% and we strike illegally as was done many times before, do you know where they can find 28,000 or even 17000 teachers on the fly? We don't care if they threatin to decertify because when we are united, even without the backing of teach for America and charter schools, when our union is united we will get what is fair for our wages and right for our students. And 2% for a 5, yes 5 year contract with no limit on health insurance is not fair or right. I will not take a paycut to work more.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You write " the union can hold as many votes as they want," I am not clear it is as simple as that. SB 7 has changed 115 ILCS 5/13 to read "for educational employees employed in a school district organized under Article 34 of the School Code, at least three-fourths of all bargaining unit members of the exclusive bargaining representative have affirmatively voted to authorize the strike."

    If you read SB7 you realize the CTU can only go on a strike over the final offer made by CPS or the fact-finding panel's recommended terms of settlement if they are rejected by the CTU. So it is not clear if the strike vote fails whether the union can vote again and again to strike.

    Since all of this language is new I would bet the CPS would argue to Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board and a court that the CTU can not just keep trying to get a 75% vote and they are required to return to the table. CPS at that point can ever so slightly change its final offer and the process starts all over again.

    Getting a yes vote on a strike the first time seems critical if it comes to that point. But the union is not required to call for a strike vote within any time frame based on the language of SB 7 once all the steps are carried out. The CTU can pick its time to pull that trigger in order to increase the possibility of a yes vote as long as it is longer than 30 days after a fact-finding report has been released for public information with the recommended terms of settlement (assuming fact finding was invoked).

    Rod Estvan

  • thanks for the description of the vote above -- and for all the comments. however, i'm still not sure i'm buying it -- not the votes (though they're entirely phantom affairs, far as anyone outside a school can confirm), just whether they represent what people will actually do when the time comes for a strike vote. there are a lot of hotheads on here (i love you all) but i'm not sure you're representative or that it's going to seem all that clear when it's really time. i'm not against a strike -- hell, i'd sort of like to see one. but this is all talk. early talk.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    How about you issue the same qualifier every time a statement is made by Duncan, Emanuel, CPS, whoever. Your blog would be contain nothing but "I'll believe it when I see it"

  • It may be talk but it is important to let the BOE ad Rahm know that we are ready to fight for what's right. I have not heard of any schools that have voted below 85% and I have not talked to 1 teacher happy about what Rahm has brought to the table.

  • The Daily Kos
    STRIKEWATCH: The lessons hard learned from our own history

  • Question: If at the end of the negotiating process, you believe the proposed contract is unfair, would you vote to strike?
    43- yes. 1- maybe= 98%.

    And as for the younger teachers, I believe they are the most hardcore. Many have no children and still live at home with mom & dad. They are down for a strike.

  • In reply to Maestro:

    This type of question renders the result almost meaningless, as it is a pure abstraction. Would you agree to an unfair contract? Of course.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    Of course not, that should say.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    Hey Looper- Are you sure that wasn't a 1% corporate class Freudian slip on your part? Do you subconsciously expect those of us who actually work to work under unfair conditions? I think you do.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Westlooper is a pro Rahm Brizard Troll! Yes, I wrote it!

  • In reply to viniciusdm:

    Troll != someone who disagrees with you

  • In reply to Donn:

    No, when you bring qualitative data to back your arguments, then you prove you are not a troll!

  • In reply to Donn:

    Dong- You have to admit you've whittled down your arsenal to essentially a mantra of "Noble Street Noble Street Noble Street". You really appear to be an Emanuel cheerleader.

    The reality of how Noble Street operates- axing dozens of students who don't meet their standards (or can't afford their fines)- seems to evade you. There is nothing that they do educationally that a magnet school couldn't do much better.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    SB 7 allows CPS to impose it's "last best offer" if an agreement is not reached after all the steps in the negotiating process (mediation, fact-finding, cool-offs, etc) are complete. CPS has shown no desire, nor have they the need to play "fair" since they can hardball and stall through the process. They are banking on the notion that the CTU won't get 75% to approve a strike vote. So no, this is not an "abstraction", rather it is the grim reality that is collective bargaining- post SB7.

  • Second City Cop: "Strike Strike Strike" Dozen comments for and against CTU striking this fall

  • 150 schools voted in favor of a strike, says CTU -- but no details.

  • Maybe CTU is learning from the void of transparency perpetuated by the Emanuel administration. Does CTU have to provide each and every detail? Why doesn't CTU just transparently share their entire game plan with the mayor via this blog?

  • A "strike vote" now has no meaning -- the voters have no skin in the game, as the vote has no consequences. Who knows if teachers will strike, but the results of a straw poll in April, with no contract to vote up or down, means absolutely nothing. The devil is always in the details.

    Here are the points I think it is important to keep in mind.

    1. Teachers have the right to bargain collectively for wages and benefits. We can't begrudge them that. The union leadership is under a duty to get the best deal it can. Teachers don't own anyone an obligation to accept lower wages for the good of the public, the children, or anyone else.

    2. CPS has a duty to the taxpayers and the students to get the best deal it can consistent with the need to retain and attract teachers of sufficient quality. Every dollar saved on teacher salaries is a dollar that can be spent on facilities, enrichment, and more teachers.

    3. CPS is not a jobs program. The purpose of hiring teachers is not to benefit any particular demographic or the "middle class". See points 1 and 2 -- CPS is not immoral or evil for wanting to bargain down salary increases any more than CTU is for wanting to bargain them up. In my view, the motives on both sides are easy to understand and justified by each side's respective duties.

    4. Maybe teacher salaries are too low, maybe not. But in the short term a teacher salary increase does nothing to improve education, as on the day after the negotiations are over, the taxpayer and students are paying more for the same teacher corps. If it were up to me, I would run an experiment -- I would give 10% of the schools (all under-performing) wide latitude to set teacher salaries way above market in attempt to attract the best teachers (if they could be identified), and then see whether those schools prospered.

    5. Like a lot of things, teacher salaries are ultimately decided in large part by supply and demand. With the current level of unemployment and the many layoffs in the education sector, it seems likely that CPS is in a buyer's market for teachers.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    Loopy- You're even repeating Emanuel's cliches- "skin in the game"... now if you could just sqeeze in a "status quo" or two...

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    In relation to point 3. In fact the City of Chicago, the Mayor, and CPS recognized that CPS is in fact a jobs program by requiring teachers to live in the City. The legislative record in the General Assembly is clear on this issue. When the CPS and Mayor Daley won that fight the basis for that victory was keeping the money CPS teachers made in the city.

    In relation to point 4, while it is true that the day after an agreement is reached a salary increase will have little relationship to teacher quality. But over time the combination of salary and working conditions do have an impact. There is a lot of research in this area. Chicago Public Schools is a great place to learn your trade, just like for a doctor working at Cook County Hospital is a great place to learn the trade, but there are other options once those skill sets have been developed. The decision to leave is based in part on salary levels of school districts outside of the city and in part on better working conditions along with far less expensive housing costs.

    I agree with point 5, overall nationally there is pressure containing the growth of teacher's salaries. I know of many rural communities in Illinois and smaller cities where the starting wage for teachers are currently $5,000 lower than those in Chicago. These districts do not face teacher shortages except in certain cases for special education, high school level math and science teachers.

    By the way I could not care in the least if you are a Rahm troll, but if that is the case please link a photo to your posts because I am interested in what such a creature would look like.

    Rod Estvan

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