March 7th, 2022
An Open Letter to CTU Officers:
We, members of the REAL Caucus (REAL) and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), have deep concerns about the disparate treatment that immunocompromised and disabled members are facing under the current eligibility requirements for CTU Officer and Executive Board candidates. Specifically, CTU Leadership has determined that longtime CTU members who took union-sanctioned leaves during the COVID-19 pandemic are now ineligible to run for union office.
Over the last two years, CTU made great efforts to educate and advocate for members to protect themselves from Covid-19 by negotiating with the Board to allow leaves. It was the only way many immunocompromised and disabled members could protect their health.
At the same time, CTU failed to inform members about their potential loss of membership status during these unpaid leaves (Constitution Article II-3.c / 5-6; Bylaws Article II-4). CTU has also ignored multiple Bylaws sections that support members on leave to remain in good standing, including but not limited to Article II-5.e, which specifically indicates that members on extended sick or disability leave who notify the Union of that leave will be carried on CTU’s books as regular members until such time that the member is able to return to dues-paying status.
It has become clear that these two situations, together, are now negatively impacting any member who made use of these leaves and who is seeking to run as a CTU candidate. In order to be eligible for elected office, candidates must have continuous dues-paying service of two years for Executive Board and three years for Officer. Members who took leaves are now ineligible.
In response to the unprecedented circumstances of Covid-19, CTU Officers should have called an urgent committee meeting, under Bylaws Article II-6, to investigate the need for a more inclusive electoral process. The refusal by CTU Officers to complete this follow-up was a gross oversight which is having a disparate impact on our members with disabilities.
The remedy is simple: affirm the CTU’s commitment to the inclusion of all members by following Bylaws Article II-5.e, or by allowing members who were on leave over the last three years to back-pay any missing dues payments. All members who have been thus excluded from the ballot must be reinstated as “in good standing” no later than March 24, 2022 so their names may appear on the 2022 ballot.
We must stand united with our immunocompromised and disabled union siblings. As always, it is in our solidarity that we build our power and become stronger.