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Chicago Teachers Union Questions Governor’s Appointment

The Chicago Teachers Union claims the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board was further compromised Friday when Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed a former attorney for Chicago Public Schools.

With Lara Shayne’s appointment, three of the five members have been appointed by Rauner, who is known for his anti-union views and dislike of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Until just last week, Shayne served as senior manager of labor relations for CPS. CTU attorney Robert Bloch said Shayne occasionally participated in negotiations with the union over the contract dispute.

Now, as a member of the board, Shayne will be asked to decide disputes between school districts and unions, including disagreements between CPS and the CTU.

Executive Director Victor Blackwell said it is up to individual board members to decide whether or not they should abstain from voting on particular cases.

Bloch said he is hopeful Shayne will be fair. 

“We hope the board members will decide according to precedent and fairly,” he said.

But CTU leaders have complained recently that the board is skewed against them. CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said the more Rauner appointments to the board, the less legitimate it is becoming.

“These appointments undermine the board,” he said.

In addition to Shayne, Rauner appointed Judy Biggert and Andrea Waintroob. Biggert was a Republican congresswoman for 14 years and a former member of the Hinsdale Board of Education.

When appointed last year, Waintroob had just left the firm of Franczek Radelet, which is where Jim Franczek, CPS’ main outside counsel in contract negotiations, is a partner.

Like any board, orders the IELRB makes must be enforced by a court and can be challenged in a court.

Still, the rulings by the board can serve to make things difficult for the CTU, which is in the middle of intense negotiations with CPS and is threatening to strike.

Bloch said CPS could try to hold up a strike by charging that it is illegal and asking for an expedited hearing on an injunction to prevent it.

Currently there are three charges pending between CPS and the CTU. One of them has to do with whether the union’s April 1 one-day strike was illegal.

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