This article was submitted to us by a teacher friend. She writes, “The article illustrates in a very simple way what needs to be done to have and be a union that is truly on the side of the working class. Two friends of mine that are teachers, and in the past had made a conscious decision to not be organizers, were pretty inspired by this article. I think the simpleness of the article is a big plus for people that don’t have politics in their heads 24/7.”
Here in Oakland, the lessons of the Chicago teachers are especially useful for us as OEA gears up for contract negotiations. So if you’re interested in what Norine Gutekanst has to say here you might want to check out our Oct. 5 post with a video of Norine going in depth into the lessons of the strike.
Editors Note: This article was taken from zcommunications.org who reposted it from Labor Notes (we were unable to find the original link, apologies). Thanks to both parties, and our friend, for spreading the words and work of CTU.
CTU teachers on strike. Note their signs raising working class wide demands calling for unity between teachers, parents, and students which the teacher organizers made real by fighting against school closures long before the 2012 strike.
How Chicago Teachers Got Organized to Strike
By Norine Gutekanst, CTU Organizing Director
The seven-day Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike in September didn’t just beat back a mayor bent on imposing some very bad “education reforms.” The union also developed a deep new layer of member leaders and won broad public support. One poll showed 66 percent of parents sided with us.
Our win was possible because of several years of patient organizing, focused on getting members to step up.
The work began with the election of a new leadership team from a reform caucus in June 2010. Many in the caucus had waged battles going back to 2001 against the school closings that were targeting Black and Latino neighborhoods.
We knew we had to build up the union to be ready to strike, if necessary, to defend our contract and our students. But the vast majority of our members had not experienced any of the nine strikes from 1967 through 1987. Leaders were committed to building a member-driven union to battle alongside parents and students and make our contract campaign one front in a bigger fight to save public education.