The Chicago Teachers Union is asking a Cook County judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed against CTU that seeks to stall upcoming elections for Union officers and delegates, which are scheduled for May 20. The Union argues that the plaintiffs’ lawsuit amounts to an attack on the Union’s democratic process, in a move that could as much as double the cost of that election, which cost $280,000 three years ago, the last time our Union held officer elections.
This lawsuit to stall CTU elections threatens to undermine our rank and file democracy, in a union election that has seen unprecedented levels of outside interference.
Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit on Thursday, April 14, charging that an election rule had been violated when the Union allowed candidates of all caucuses an extension to file a form indicating the caucus slate with which they were running. Officer candidates from all slates timely filed the slate consent forms, but various AFT and IFT convention delegate candidates from all caucuses had missed the initial deadline for the slate consent forms. The Union’s Rules & Elections Committee, which oversees internal CTU elections, had granted those who neglected to file the form an additional four days to declare their caucus, as is their right under CTU election rules. Two slates – the Members First slate, and the REAL slate – are running to unseat the incumbent CORE slate for union officers and executives.
“Be clear: the only purpose of this frivolous lawsuit is to sow confusion and undermine the internal union democracy upon which our members rely,” said outgoing CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “While I’m not a candidate in this election, nothing is more important to me and to our entire union than our rank and file democracy, and we are committed to pushing back against this effort to undermine our elections, just as we are committed to rallying our union in solidarity after our elections.”
This lawsuit to derail the CTU’s officer elections comes after an unprecedented round of efforts by outside forces to interfere with the Union’s internal election. It is illegal under federal and state law and a violation of the CTU’s constitution for non-CTU members to interfere in an internal union election, and the Union sued in March to end that “mischievous, unlawful and deceptive interference.”
While we’ll provide more information as it becomes available, today the judge ruled against the plaintiffs, who had asked for an emergency temporary restraining order that would have stalled elections. Instead, the judge ruled the case filed Thursday is not an emergency, and she will consider all matters on April 21st at 10 a.m. The Union is asking the court to deny the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order and to dismiss the lawsuit.