By Kyle Olson
CHICAGO – So much for finding favor with the hometown crowd.
President Obama managed to gain an endorsement from the Chicago Teachers Union last week, but it took some quick maneuvering by the union’s executive committee to make it happen.
It seems the union’s House of Delegates (about 800 delegates representing rank-and-file members) failed to act on the recommended endorsement, expressing a preference to sit this election out. But the union leadership came through for its old friend Obama, rejecting the advice of the people who pay the dues and the bills.
Jim Vail, who says he is a member of the union’s PAC committee and executive board gave a blow-by-blow (sometimes incoherent) account on his site:
“First, the Obama endorsement was discussed in the union’s political action committee…
“The pac committee voted to endorse the president…
“The endorsement then went to the executive board to debate. Several members expressed concerns with endorsing someone tied to Race to the Top. However, the CTU leadership said until there is an alternative, teachers really have no choice but to endorse the president.
“Weak ruffled yeas were then recorded, barely eeking out some strong no’s.
“While it was on the house of delegates agenda to vote yes or no to support the executive board’s decision to endorse Obama, a quorum was called and the delegates did not vote on an endorsement.
“So the weak executive board vote in favor of endorsing a president whose policies aim to destroy this very union, stood.
“The debate in the delegate’s house would have been vigorous, perhaps contentious, as some were predicting. Some, including the leadership, were probably worried a bitter debate could have divided the house.
“So the CTU endorsed President Obama.”
Union president Karen Lewis has been fond of saying she runs a democratic union. During the recent strike, when she was asked by the media about what action the union would take, she frequently deferred to her members.
But it appears the CTU leadership ignored the rank-and-file and chose to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation: the president’s hometown union deciding to sit out his re-election.
This is what democracy looks like?