Speaker Welch was the sponsor of the first bill the Union helped pass under the leadership of President Emerita Karen Lewis and then-Vice President Jesse Sharkey.
CHICAGO, Jan. 13, 2021—Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey released the following statement on today’s vote to elect Illinois State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch as the first Black Speaker of the House of Representatives in Illinois:
“Today is an historic day as we welcome Speaker Welch as the first Black Speaker of the House in our state. He has long been a friend and ally of public education through his support of an elected school board, progressive revenue and full restoration of our union’s bargaining rights.
“His election to speaker, combined with transformative legislation passed by the Black Caucus, will provide Black and Brown communities throughout our state the representation needed in our continued fight to reduce poverty, tackle racism and protect working families.
“We congratulate Speaker Welch on his landmark victory, and look forward to working with him on improving public education for all children and educators of Illinois.”