When thousands of CTU teachers were on strike, fighting for their very survival, Saunders-Wolfe and her "Coalition to Save Our Union" were nearly invisible even though they were invited in to be part the negotiating team by Lewis and her CORE Caucus, who were out in front of the struggle.
Now, suddenly her name is appearing in carefully-planted stories in the Tribune where she is being promoted as the friendly alternative to the "bomb throwing" Lewis in the May 17th union elections.
The truth is that Saunders-Wolfe and her coalition are part of an unprincipled alliance of old-line union sell-outs and even some disgruntled former progressives, who otherwise hate each other and who were run out of leadership in years past. Now this unseemly alliance is being propped up with lots of money coming from outside sources. One can only guess who's footing the bill for a string of upcoming TV ads blaming the union for school closings and for the wave of teacher bashing and assaults of public employees.
I'm actually glad the two sides will be debating the best direction for the union, in front of the membership. That goes to the heart of union democracy. I also feel confident about the ability of Chicago teachers to figure things out for themselves and decide who should lead them through the difficult struggles ahead.
*****On a more positive note, hundreds of teachers and staff at UNO charter schools have voted to join the union. Today's Sun-Times reports:
More than 400 teachers and staff at UNO’s 13 schools decided to join the Chicago Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff, known as Chicago ACTS, more than doubling its membership in a move national labor leaders hailed as key to their efforts to unionize charter schools. The vote means more than 20 percent of teachers and other staff at charter schools in Chicago now belong to unions, labor leaders said.The vote at the UNO schools had 87 percent in favor of joining Chicago ACTS, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Charter school teachers are forbidden by law to be in the same bargaining unit as other CPS teachers.