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Five Teachers Vie for Head of Chicago's Teacher's Union

By Kevin Robinson in News on May 19, 2010 6:20PM

2010_5_ctu_logo.jpg It what may be the most hotly contested teacher's union election in recent memory, Chicago's public school teachers will decided which, if any, of five candidates will head the third largest teacher's union in the nation. Incumbent President Marilyn Stewart is running for re-election, challenged by former CTU President Deborah Lynch, who, Stewart ousted in 2004. Karen Lewis, a teacher at King College Prep and head of a caucus that has gone after the Chicago School Board, Ted Hajiharis, a union staff rep and CTU tresurer Linda Porter, both defectors from Stewart's camp make up the outsiders.

The school board has said that it needs concessions from teachers to close a $600 million budget gap, even while CPS leadership has seen their pay increase. Proposed increases in classroom size and a four percent increase in teacher pay are key issues in the election. While four of the candidates have said they will hold the line on teacher pay and class size, only one candidate, Hajiharis has said that he'd consider concessions. "I believe the deficit is for real,'' he told the Sun-Times. "I believe the board wants the teachers to give something back. Maybe we can get 3 or 2 percent -- it depends on what we can get in return. There's a lot of things that could improve. Job security could improve, [ending] the proliferation of charter schools [which hire non-union teachers] could improve. . . . All I'm saying is, I'm willing to discuss it."

If nobody wins more than 50 percent of the vote Friday the election will go into a runoff, scheduled for June 11. The CTU is also heading up a protest of the proposed classroom size expansion next week.