Labor Union

Chicago Teachers Union

This is a logo for Chicago Teachers Union. (link)
Location:

CHICAGO, IL

Tax ID:

36-0906695

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $27,878,897
Expenses: $32,111,159
Assets: $16,818,501

Founded:

1937

President:

Karen Lewis

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is the teachers’ union for 25,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, and other public school employees in the Chicago, Illinois public school system, the third-largest school system in the United States. The CTU represents its members through collective bargaining for compensation, benefits, employee work conditions, and school governance. [1]

Founded in 1937, CTU is well known for its aggressive political engagement such as strikes, marches, and protests in favor of left-of-center educational priorities and approaches to racial equality. [2] In the 2010s and early 2020s, the CTU has aligned with the ideological radical left; in 2019,the union faced criticism after representatives including a union executive board member traveled to Venezuela in support of the de facto socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro. [3]

CTU is a local union of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest national teachers’ union.

Mission

The Chicago Teachers Union was established to represent the interest of teachers at Chicago, Illinois schools. The CTU represents Chicago area teachers in regular collective bargaining contract agreements. While the CTU mission is, ostensibly, to improve public education, most of the identified purposes of the CTU are related to improving compensation and protecting the job security of union members, as well as growing the union. Item 6 on the CTU mission expresses a purpose of enlarging the CTU by incorporating charter school educators, as well as “other Chicago-area educators that may join with this Union.” In 2018, the CTU was successful in adding the 1,000 members of the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff to a division within the CTU, though other charter school teacher labor unions remained independent of the CTU. [4] The CTU Constitution also identifies solidarity with other labor unions (“a relationship of mutual assistance and cooperation with organized labor”) as a core purpose of the CTU. [5]

In the 2019 negotiation with Chicago, the CTU’s key negotiating goals were the duration of the contract, increased support staff (including elimination of privatized nurses), reduced class sizes, increased compensation and benefits, and job security protections, including limiting some teacher evaluations and Principal authority over grading practices. [6]

The Chicago Teachers Union’s annual dues for 2019-2020 are $1,146.28 for each teacher. [7]

History

The Chicago Teacher Federation (CTF), a predecessor to the Chicago Teachers Union, was formed in 1897, largely to improve the status and compensation of teachers. Under famous union leader Margaret Haley (known as the “Lady Labor Slugger”), the CTF recognized that it needed to persuade political officials to achieve these goals. The Chicago Teacher Federation threw itself into political advocacy, organizing behind candidates who were favorable to their goals. This effort resulted in both support and opposition. In 1915, the newly elected Mayor of Chicago, William Thompson, appointed a school board that was largely hostile to the interests of the Chicago Teacher Federation. Under Board President Jacob Loeb, the Chicago Board of Education passed a rule (“The Loeb Rule”) prohibiting teachers from joining any labor union or similar organization. The Federation challenged this rule in court, with mixed results. [8]

In 1916, the Chicago Teacher Federation founded the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and became the Local 1. However, due to the Loeb Rule, the Chicago Board of Education fired dozens of participating teachers. The Chicago Teachers Federation was forced to leave the American Federation of Teachers. [9] It would not rejoin the AFT until 1937, when the Chicago Teacher Federation and various other Chicago teacher organizations consolidated to create the Chicago Teachers Union, which once again joined the American Federation of Teachers as Local 1. [10]

In 1917, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the Loeb Rule was constitutional, and the CFT and Chicago Board of Education reached a settlement in which the fired teachers were rehired and CFT disaffiliated itself from other labor unions. This outcome led the CFT to prioritize collective bargaining rights as a primary goal. [11] However, teachers unions would not accomplish this goal in the United States until a New York City teachers union reached a collective bargaining agreement after extensive teacher strikes in 1962. [12] The CTU won recognition as the collective bargaining agent for its members in 1966, and reached its first collective bargaining contract in 1967. [13]

After the Chicago Teachers Union achieved the power to collectively bargain, CTU teachers went on strike nine times in twenty years, with four strikes in the first seven years. [14] After a strike in 1987, there was a period of relative peace, with no teacher strikes until 2012.

However, in 2012, after 9 months of contentious negotiations between CTU, the Chicago School Board, and then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), who had been actively closing or privatizing failing schools, the CTU went on strike again. [15] The 2012 strike also proved difficult for President Barack Obama during that year’s presidential campaign; it pitted labor unions, whose support he needed, against Emanuel, Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff and a top fundraiser. While interest groups on all sides sought Obama’s involvement in the negotiation, President Obama’s spokesman said that Obama “has not expressed any opinion or made any assessment about this particular incident.” [16]

In 2018, CTU supported the first major strike by charter school teachers in US history. [17]

In 2019, CTU launched an 11-day teacher strike, the eleventh since 1969. The results were mixed for CTU. While Chicago officials did not give them everything they demanded, the city did agree to a 16% raise over five years, smaller class sizes and more support staff, including social workers, nurses, librarians, and others. While a victory for the teachers’ union, the concessions came at a significant cost – estimated at about $500 million – to Chicago’s already-shaky financial condition. In 2020, the city was running an $838 million budget deficit, and Chicago’s school system bonds have been rated below investment-grade in recent years. [18]

In addition to member-oriented benefits, the CTU also expanded its list of demands during the 2019 teacher strike to include a broader political goal: access to affordable housing. Illinois law limits what unions can include as part of a contract negotiation. However, a growing movement of labor organizations has begun aggressively campaigning for radical-left economic policy under the branding “bargaining for the common good,” including intersectional policy efforts in labor negotiations. [19] Ultimately, when the 11-day strike ended, the city of Chicago declined to incorporate housing policy into the contract with CTU. [20]

In 2020, the Chicago Teachers Union filed a lawsuit against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, as well as the U.S. Department of Education and the Chicago Board of Education, claiming that new special education regulations imposed an “impossible burden” on the teachers during the coronavirus pandemic. Secretary DeVos had declined to waive a requirement that schools revise special education plans — known as Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or 504 plans – and the Chicago Public Schools special education office required teachers and other staff to meet with each special education student to develop a remote learning plan. CTU argued that this was an undue burden. In response, the Chicago Public Schools said that teachers were only required to make “basic accommodations” rather than entirely new plans. The U.S. Department of Education said that CTU’s lawsuit was “nothing more than political posturing for a headline.” [21]

In May 2020, the Chicago Teachers Union was sued by a Chicago teacher who was being forced to pay CTU dues despite crossing the picket line during the 2019 strike and withdrawing from CTU membership. The teacher alleged that she was being forced to subsidize CTU’s speech, and this was a violation of her own first amendment rights. In response, CTU blamed a “Koch-funded law project,” called the lawsuit “anti-worker,” and argued that, by only allowing members to revoke their dues authorizations in August, they were operating “within the letter of the law.” [22]

Affiliated Organizations

In addition to its status as Local 1 of the American Federation of Teachers, CTU is also a member of other left-wing labor groups, including the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL), the Illinois State Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (ISFL-CIO), the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT). [23]

The Chicago Teachers Union also operates a philanthropic organization, the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation (CTUF). The Foundation supports education-related advocacy efforts aligned with the interests of the CTU. The CTUF also funds some professional development programs for teachers and scholarships for underserved communities. [24]

The Foundation was founded in 1969 when it received the Fewkes Tower – a 29-story high rise building in Chicago – from the Chicago Teachers Union, which had built the tower in 1963 to provide affordable housing to retired teachers. While the purpose of the Foundation was to support retired and disabled teachers, very few teachers ever lived at Fewkes Tower, and “only seven of the 224 apartments in Fewkes Tower were occupied by retired CPS teachers” when the building was sold by CTUF in 2014. [25] Upon the sale of the tower, the CTUF refocused its mission towards teacher advocacy and grantmaking to underserved communities. [26]

In 2018, despite the infusion of $48 million from the sale of the building just a few years prior, the CTUF cut back, reducing its grants from $1.9 million to 50 grantees in 2017 to $1 million to 37 grantees in 2018.  The CTUF has lost $2 million per year since the sale of the Fewkes Tower. [27]

In 2019, CTUF grantees included a mix of progressive activist organizations and community charity organizations like the Action Now Institute, Equip for Equality, Grassroots Collaborative, Rainbows for All Children, and the UIC Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy. [28]

The Chicago Teachers Union also operates the CTU PAC, a campaign committee that supports candidates who fight against school reform. [29] [30] In 2015, donations to the CTU PAC amounted to over $1.5 million, and the CTU PAC spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia (D), who ran against incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D). Garcia lost. [31]

Political Engagement

Between March 2018 and July 2019, just prior to the 2019 teachers strike, the Chicago Teachers Union spent almost $1.5 million on political activities. In addition, CTU PAC donated $1.2 million to candidates and political organizations. [32]

In 2017-2019, the CTU PAC donated $133,000 to the campaign of Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D), who was also on staff with the Chicago Teachers Union as a registered lobbyist. Johnson was paid a $103,000 salary by CTU, in addition to his $85,000 salary as a Cook County Commissioner.  CTU also retained Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D) as a consultant, paying him $106,000, in addition to his own $85,000 county salary. [33]

CTU and CTU PAC paid $316,000 to United Working Families, a labor-union-aligned political organization funded by CTU and SEIU Healthcare Illinois/Indiana, to conduct organizing and advocacy in line with the policies and candidates supported by the Chicago Teachers Union. [34]

Between October 2018 and October 2019, the CTU donated $1.7 million to political campaigns and related political action committees. Included in that spending was $300,000 to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (D) for her Mayoral campaign. Preckwinkle lost to Lori Lightfoot (D). [35]

In 2020, CTU members declined to endorse left-wing U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), leading the CTU to declare itself “neutral” in the 2020 Democratic primaries. In the absence of a union endorsement, two senior CTU leaders, Jesse Sharkey and Stacy Davis Gates, endorsed the Vermont Senator. This marked a split among teacher’s union organization leaders, as AFT President Randi Weingarten endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), while AFT leader Loretta Johnson and New York City teachers union leader Michael Mulgrew endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. [36]

CTU has been an active opponent of education reforms or changes that could reduce the union’s power within the education system. Despite Chicago Public School enrollment dropping by over 6,000 students in 2019, and by 80,000 students since 2000, the Chicago Teachers Union has refused to allow schools, even failing schools, to close. [37] In 2012, contract negotiations stalled over Mayor Emanuel’s proposal to use student test scores in teacher evaluations, as well as his effort to give principals more hiring authority. [38]

Leadership

The Chicago Teachers Union is led by CTU President Jesse Sharkey, who was appointed to the position in 2018. Sharkey has been with the CTU since 1998, previously serving as the union’s vice president. Prior to working on staff at CTU, Sharkey was a social studies teacher and a political activist. [39]  The World Socialist Web Site has called Sharkey “a leading member of the International Socialist Organization.” [40] Sharkey lives in a $1.5 million home, and sends his own children to magnet and selective enrollment schools. [41]

The CTU Vice President is Stacy Davis Gates, who is also executive vice president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Chairwoman of the United Working Families political organization. Previously, Gates served as the Political and Legislative Director for CTU. [42]

Financials

In its Form 990 disclosure for July 2017 to June 2018, the Chicago Teachers Union had total revenue of $28 million and total expenses of $30 million, resulting in a net loss of approximately $2 million. In the year prior, CTU had lost $4 million. Net assets declined to less than $1 million. Compensation for top executives and Board members ranged from $120,000 to $330,000. [43]

References

  1. [1] Chicago Teachers Union, About. Accessed June 01, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/about/ ^
  2. Chicago Teachers Union, CTU History. Accessed June 01, 2010.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/about/history/ ^
  3. McQueary, Kristen. “Column: Surprised by CTU’s Venezuela Visit? Then You Haven’t Been Paying Attention.” chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune, August 20, 2019. https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/kristen-mcqueary/ct-column-ctu-teachers-venezuela-maduro-mcqueary-20190819-ulffab2mxjbyrdfu7hju5e4nz4-story.html. ^
  4. Masterson, Matt, “CTU Members Approve Merger With Charter School Teachers Union,” WTTW, January 30, 2018. Accessed June 01, 2020.
    https://news.wttw.com/2018/01/30/ctu-members-approve-merger-charter-school-teachers-union ^
  5. Chicago Teachers Union, Constitution. Accessed June 01, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/union/constitution/ ^
  6. WTTW, Chicago Teachers Union Bargaining Summary as of 10/29/2019. Accessed June 01, 2020.
    https://news.wttw.com/sites/default/files/article/file-attachments/Bargaining-Summary-2019-10-29.pdf ^
  7. Chicago Teacher’s Union, 2019-2020 Dues. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/union/member-information/dues/ ^
  8. Chicago Historical Society, Chicago Teachers’ Federation records 1864-1968. Accessed June 01, 2020.
    http://chsmedia.org/media/fa/fa/M-C/CTF-inv.htm ^
  9. [1] Grossman, Ron, “As Chicago teachers vote to authorize a strike, a look back at the city’s labor history,” Chicago Tribune, September 27, 2019. Accessed June 01, 2020. ^
  10. [1] American Federation of Teachers, To Form a More Perfect Union. Accessed June 01, 2020.

    https://www.aft.org/periodical/psrp-reporter/fall-2015/form-more-perfect-union ^

  11. [1] Law, Justin, “The Courts vs. Teacher Unionism,” The Labor and Working Class History Association, May 23, 2014. Accessed June 01, 2020.
    http://www.lawcha.org/2014/05/23/courts-vs-teacher-unionism-justin-law/ ^
  12. Joshua Cowen and Katharine O. Strunk, “How Do Teachers’ Unions Influence Education Policy? What We Know and What We Need to Learn,” Michigan State University,
    https://education.msu.edu/EPC/library/papers/HowUnionsInfluenceEducationPolicy/ ^
  13. Chicago Teachers Union, History. Accessed June 01, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/about/history/ ^
  14. Gregory, Ted, “Why CPS/teacher relations have been so contentious for so long,” Crain’s Chicago Business, October 24, 2019. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.chicagobusiness.com/crains-forum-public-schools/why-cpsteacher-relations-have-been-so-contentious-so-long ^
  15. Moran, Theresa, “Behind the Chicago Teachers Strike,” Labor Notes, September 10, 2012. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://labornotes.org/2012/09/behind-chicago-teachers-strike ^
  16. Staff reporter, “Teachers’ Strike Puts Obama In Political Bind,” NBC Chicago, September 10, 2012. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/teachers-strike-puts-obama-in-a-political-bind/1938160/ ^
  17. Chicago Teachers Union, Press Release: STRIKE! CTU charter educators strike UNO/Acero, December 04, 2018. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/posts/strike-ctu-charter-educators-strike-uno-acero/ ^
  18. Mitch Smith and Monica Davey, “Chicago Teachers’ Strike, Longest in Decades, Ends,” New York Times, October 31, 2019. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/31/us/chicago-cps-teachers-strike.html ^
  19. Bellware, Kim, “Chicago teachers say they will go on strike. They are demanding affordable housing for students,” Washington Post, October 16, 2019. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/10/16/chicago-teachers-strike-demands-include-push-affordable-housing-help-homeless-students/ ^
  20. Campbell, Alexia Fernández, “The 11-day teachers strike in Chicago paid off,” Vox, November 01, 2019. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/11/1/20943464/chicago-teachers-strike-deal ^
  21. Issa, Nader, “Chicago Teachers Union sues Betsy DeVos, CPS over coronavirus special education requirements,” Chicago Sun-Times, May 20, 2020. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://chicago.suntimes.com/education/2020/5/20/21264993/chicago-teachers-union-sues-betsy-devos-cps-coronavirus-special-education-iep-trump ^
  22. Leone, Hannah, “Chicago teacher who crossed the picket line during the strike is now suing the teachers union over dues payments,” Chicago Tribune, May 07, 2020. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-chicago-teachers-union-wages-lawsuit-cps-20200507-u2qqrnhcpzfwpaxdsq5yl5ge4e-story.html ^
  23. Chicago Teachers Union, Website. Accessed June 01, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/ ^
  24. Chicago Teachers Union Foundation, About. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.ctuf.org/about/ ^
  25. Chicago Teachers Union, On the CTU Sale of Fewkes Tower, April 30, 2015. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/posts/on-the-ctu-sale-of-fewkes-tower/ ^
  26. Chicago Teachers Union Foundation, Our History. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.ctuf.org/about/our-history/ ^
  27. Lauren FitzPatrick and Nader Issa, “Chicago Teachers Union Inc.: How the clout-heavy labor group spends its money,” Chicago Sun-Times, January 17, 2020. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/1/17/21071027/chicago-teachers-union-ctu-spending-labor ^
  28. Chicago Teachers Union Foundation, Grantees List. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.ctuf.org/grants/grantees/grantees-list/ ^
  29. Chicago Teachers Union, CTU PAC. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/movement/ctu-pac/ ^
  30. Action Network, CTU PAC. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://actionnetwork.org/groups/ctu-pac ^
  31. Fusco, Chris, “The Watchdogs: How Chicago Teachers Union spends its money,” Chicago Sun-Times, January 30, 2017. Accessed June 02. 2020.
    https://chicago.suntimes.com/2017/1/30/18461114/the-watchdogs-how-chicago-teachers-union-spends-its-money ^
  32. Fusco, Chris, “The Watchdogs: How Chicago Teachers Union spends its money,” Chicago Sun-Times, January 30, 2017. Accessed June 02. 2020.
    https://chicago.suntimes.com/2017/1/30/18461114/the-watchdogs-how-chicago-teachers-union-spends-its-money ^
  33. Fusco, Chris, “The Watchdogs: How Chicago Teachers Union spends its money,” Chicago Sun-Times, January 30, 2017. Accessed June 02. 2020.
    https://chicago.suntimes.com/2017/1/30/18461114/the-watchdogs-how-chicago-teachers-union-spends-its-money ^
  34. Lauren FitzPatrick and Nader Issa, “Chicago Teachers Union Inc.: How the clout-heavy labor group spends its money,” Chicago Sun-Times, January 17, 2020. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/1/17/21071027/chicago-teachers-union-ctu-spending-labor ^
  35. Wagner Acerbi Horta and Brendan Rigney, “Beyond the picket line: Union clout, tallied,” Center for Illinois Politics, October 27, 2019. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.centerforilpolitics.org/articles/beyond-the-picket-line-union-clout-tallied ^
  36. Belsha, Kalyn, “Chicago teachers union leaders back Sanders, becoming latest to offer personal endorsements as unions tread carefully,” Chalkbeat, March 04, 2020. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.chalkbeat.org/2020/3/4/21178699/chicago-teachers-union-leaders-back-sanders-becoming-latest-to-offer-personal-endorsements-as-unions ^
  37. Szalinski, Ben, “The new contract continues a moratorium on school closings despite plummeting student enrollment,” Illinois Policy, November 22, 2019. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.illinoispolicy.org/leaked-emails-from-federal-investigation-reveal-madigan-as-himself/ ^
  38. Stephanie Simon and James B. Kelleher, “Analysis: Striking Chicago teachers take on national education reform,” Reuters, September 10, 2012. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-chicago-schools-analysis/analysis-striking-chicago-teachers-take-on-national-education-reform-idUSBRE8890VS20120910 ^
  39. Chicago Teachers Union, Officers. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/about/#officer ^
  40. Day, Marcus, “The International Socialist Organization backs Mayor Emanuel’s attack on Chicago teachers,” World Socialist Web Site, February 18, 2016. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/18/chic-f18.html ^
  41. Konkol, Mark, “CTU Boss Talks Like Working Man, Lives Like Wealthiest 1 Percent,” Patch Chicago, August 27, 2019. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://patch.com/illinois/chicago/ctu-boss-talks-working-man-lives-wealthiest-1-percent ^
  42. Chicago Teachers Union, Officers. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://www.ctulocal1.org/about/#officers ^
  43. Guidestar, Chicago Teachers Union, 2017 990. Accessed June 02, 2020.
    https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2018/360/906/2018-360906695-112c3fb7-9O.pdf ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Karen GJ Lewis
    Former President
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1967

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Jun Form 990 $27,878,897 $32,111,159 $16,818,501 $13,800,405 Y $24,842,054 $2,989,307 $1,453 $591,905 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $28,787,665 $29,890,135 $13,073,051 $5,172,693 Y $25,567,454 $3,162,249 $2,740 $562,608
    2015 Jun Form 990 $29,886,974 $30,708,395 $15,899,197 $6,896,369 Y $26,598,457 $3,032,254 $3,694 $555,766 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $30,064,566 $27,798,055 $15,490,206 $5,665,957 Y $26,904,716 $3,044,582 $4,722 $554,217 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $30,567,383 $29,400,080 $15,108,964 $7,551,226 Y $26,939,420 $3,556,652 $5,594 $527,071 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $29,560,945 $28,873,818 $12,792,330 $6,401,895 Y $26,268,042 $3,242,580 $5,423 $513,567 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $29,493,809 $27,525,066 $13,744,951 $8,041,643 Y $26,011,768 $3,472,331 $9,471 $518,752 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Chicago Teachers Union

    1901 W CARROLL AVE
    CHICAGO, IL 60612-2401