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Chicago teachers file unfair labor charge against teachers union

Several rank-and-file members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) officially filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union for allegedly funneling membership dues to the union’s political action committee (PAC) without their approval. The money was used to support CTU-endorsed mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson.

The CTU’s Members First Caucus filed the complaint with the Illinois’ Educational Labor Relations Board and demanded that the dues payments to PACs stop immediately. The caucus noted the complaint filing is not about politics, rather it is over CTU’s alleged deceit to funnel their union membership dues to a mayoral candidate that the caucus members do not support.

Caucus leader Mary Esposito-Usterbowski told the press, “This is not the way our union does business.” Esposito-Usterbowski claimed that CTU violated its own bylaws by funneling membership dues to PACs because they outline how political contributions are voluntary and these contributions should not funded by union membership dues.

She added, “We’re asking that [PAC] money be done voluntarily, and that dues money should go to member defense.”

The complaint filing occurred after CTU delegates voted to divert $8 in dues from each union member to PACs backing Johnson’s election bid, which could amount up to $2 million in total.

In total, national and state teachers unions “donated about $5 million” to Johnson’s campaign, with CTU putting more than $2.3 million into the race.

Johnson, who won the run-off election to replace outgoing Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, currently remains on union payroll despite ongoing allegations of conflicts-of-interest as a political candidate.

A news report acknowledged that Johnson’s electoral victory “reflects the power of the Chicago Teachers Union, whose early support for Johnson catapulted the former teacher and union organizer from an unknown candidate to mayor-elect.”

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.