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Mayoral candidate still on union payroll

Brandon Johnson, a mayoral candidate in the upcoming Chicago run-off election, continues to sidestep allegations of conflict-of-interest while he remains on the payroll of the city’s powerful teachers’ union, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).

Johnson currently works as the Cook County Commissioner and is paid a salary of $93,500. But, one report said that Johnson earns an additional $103,000 from CTU as a union organizer focusing on legislative affairs.

Yet Johnson and CTU dismissed allegations of any conflicts-of-interest, such as the allegation that Johnson’s employment with CTU would make him a biased and partial public official beholden to CTU.

When asked about Johnson remaining on CTU’s payroll, the union claimed that Johnson is on leave since November 2022 and has not received salary, but he is “allowed to utilize his unused accrued paid time off.”

Not everyone is okay with CTU’s arrangement with Johnson.

One of Johnson’s opponents in the mayoral election, Illinois congressman Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, questioned whether Johnson could be a fair mayor with his strong CTU ties. “Will Brandon, if he’s elected mayor, be able to say that he is impartial?” Garcia asked.

Chicago’s chief labor negotiator, Jim Franczek said, “Last time I looked, he got $5 million from the Chicago Teachers Union. He’s getting millions of dollars from SEIU. It’s inconceivable, given human nature, that he’s not gonna feel beholden and an obligation to the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU.”

Franczek added, “’He said, ‘I’m gonna resign from the Chicago Teachers Union.’ That’s fine. But he’s worked his professional career for the Chicago Teachers Union. And I can’t believe that he’s still not gonna bleed CTU.”

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.