October 30, 2022 11:28 pm
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“Textbook Marxism”: Amendment 1 Would Be A Dream Come True For Chicago Teachers Union To Make Its Most Radical Demands

By Mark Glennon of Wirepoints.

If approved by Illinois voters in November, Amendment 1 will give government teachers’ unions an unfettered constitutional right to demand not just anything in their interests, but in what they see as the interests of every Illinoisan. The amendment is not limited to employee matters at the workplace.

Don’t take my word for that. Look at the first sentence of the argument in favor of it as written in the official summary as published by the Illinois Secretary of State: “This amendment will protect workers’ and others’ safety.” [Emphasis added.]

That particular sentence is just about safety, but it shows the broad interpretation of the amendment beyond the workplace that government unions will assert. The language of the amendment itself supports that broad interpretation, and will extend to anybody’s “economic welfare,” which is pretty much everything. **

What will government unions, especially radical teachers’ unions, demand with that new constitutional right?

The Chicago Teachers Union has long been quite open about its purpose. It sees itself as the vanguard of a national movement, led by unions like itself, that is textbook Marxism.

That purpose is well documented. It goes beyond the radical curriculum they teach in schools and encompasses an entire rearrangement of how America works.

Among the first things we wrote about on this site, ten years ago, was the role of the CTU and other teachers’ unions at a Marxism conference held that year:

The event was teeming with teachers who spoke about the new found bond” between Socialism and teachers’ unions according to reports, and Chicago teachers were on the stage. Chicago Teachers Union [then] VP Jesse Sharkey spoke at one breakout session. Becca Barnes, a Chicago Teachers Union teacher and organizer with Chicago Socialists, proclaimed at the beginning of the conference that “the struggle here in the United States has entered a new phase. Nowhere have we pointed the way forward more clearly than here in Chicago with the teachers union strike….”

Since then, militant radicalism has become still more firmly embedded in the CTU. That history is well documented – quite proudly by radicals themselves. The International Socialist Review, for example, lays out a good history of the CTU, saying the CTU “transcended a simple labor dispute and was transformed into a social movement, with the teachers fusing their struggle with that of the community they serve…joining in the Occupy Chicago movement that pointed out the root of societal problems—social and economic inequality.”

A Chicago Magazine column this year also described the “radical transformation” of the CTU beyond schools, citing a recent book on the subject:

 “From milquetoast to militant” is how Jane F. McAlevey described the union’s evolution in her 2016 book, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age. “If the labor movement’s instinct has been to reduce demands in order to sound reasonable, the new CTU took the opposite approach,” McAlevey wrote. “They led every meeting with school-based discussions of billionaires, banks and racism.” 

It cites current CTU president Stacy Davis Gates saying, “There was a movement afoot to say our union has to be more than a place that bargains a contract for a finite amount of time…. Our union couldn’t be silent on what was happening to the children in the city, the families in the city.”

And there was the solidarity mission of a delegation of CTU members to Nicolás Maduro’s communist Venezuela two years ago.

Today, the majority faction in the CTU is CORE, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators. It’s “engaged in direct action such as protests and shouting down speakers at hearings, and developed a critique of education reform that connected school closings to other issues in Chicago, like the underdevelopment of Black and brown neighborhoods, gentrification, and financialization, as described here.

The CTU is not alone. It’s the Chicago affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, which is equally radical and militant. It recently pledged $1 million to support the election to Chicago Mayor of Brandon Johnson, a CTU organizer who is already a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Though the CTU today is technically limited to bargaining for workplace demands, it has already advocated for things like universal basic income, rent control and housing assistance.

If amendment 1 passes, however, all those matters and more will be constitutionally guaranteed as legitimate demands in contract negotiations. Rest assured that the CTU and other teachers unions will be making those demands.

Among those demands will be an end to parental control over schools. Parents across the nation have risen up against political indoctrination and sexually explicit “gender affirmation “in schools. Teachers unions aren’t happy with that and want control over curriculum to the exclusion of parents. Amendment 1 will give them a constitutional right to restrict or eliminate parental control.

Another absurdity of Amendment 1 is that teachers anywhere in Illinois who share the CTU’s vision could choose to have the CTU represent then in the bargaining process. That’s because workers anywhere, under the amendment, would have the right to bargain through representatives of their own choosing. In other words, the more radical teachers could opt out of having a different union represent them and choose the CTU or any other representative.

Militant radicals are chomping at the bit for the constitutional right Amendment 1 will give them: the right to include their vision of a national, Marxist workers’ revolution in their contract demands.

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