CTU President Karen Lewis unpacks the strike authorization vote

June 6, 2012

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The Chicago Teachers Union holds a strike authorization vote Wednesday. If 75 percent of members vote yes, the union would be able to potentially move forward with an actual strike later this year.

The CTU and the Chicago Board of Education remain far apart on many issues, including pay raises. And critics say that holding an authorization vote right now is jumping the gun. After all, an official fact-finding panel won’t present its recommendations until next month.

Chicago Teachers Union Karen Lewis joins us on Eight Forty-Eight Wednesday morning to discuss the authorization vote and why she thinks it’s appropriate this early. Here are some of her thoughts:

On the details of the strike authorization vote:

“Because we have a new law, there are different kinds of issues that we have to address. And if someone doesn’t vote, it actually counts as a no. So if someone is absent today, that vote would not be able to be cast…So we will continue to have the polls open."

On what being able to strike would bring the teachers:

“We need to bring the power of our 30,000 members actually into the negotiating system with us."

"[Requiring 75 percent] was a blessing in disguise for us....Any union that attempts to do any kind of work action without 75 percent of its members…will have trouble.."

On Chicago Public Schools' administration:

"Quite frankly, we don’t have a lot of faith in management and they make very bad decisions. [But] people all over the system are starting to feel empowered now...We have a system of people that are oppressed."

"They always want us to play the game with their playbook."

For a timeline on contract negotiations from Catalyst-Chicago, click here.