Chicago Teachers Union members file unfair labor complaint against union over dues money funneled to Brandon Johnson mayoral campaign

Sarah Macaraeg and A.D. Quig, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Political News

CHICAGO — Less than a week before the mayoral runoff election between Chicago Teachers Union organizer Brandon Johnson and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, three CTU members filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the union.

Questioning the union’s approximately $2.2 million in donations to Johnson’s campaign for mayor, the complaint alleges CTU “breached its duty of fair representation to its members” in using membership dues for political purposes, contrary to a policy stated in the union’s member handbook. Hancock High School teacher Froylan “Froy” Jimenez, who recently failed to advance to the runoff in his bid to become 11th Ward alderman, is among the complainants.

“Membership dues should be used to guarantee our contract and ensure safe and fair working conditions,” Jimenez wrote in a news release. “Our hard-earned money should not be used as fuel for political campaigns without the proper consent of individual members.”

Jimenez is co-chair of the CTU Political Action and Legislative Committee, and is former state legislative staffer for U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García and indicted former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. A Twitter account under Jimenez’s name frequently retweets Vallas’ critique of his opponent and other posts critical of Johnson, a Cook County commissioner and former teacher.

The union of around 26,000 members said in an emailed statement that an “overwhelming” vote by its governing body, the CTU House of Delegates, authorized “an endorsement, and human and financial resources” in support of Johnson’s campaign.

“Despite this democratically ratified decision, a small group of Union members have turned to former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s chief labor counsel, Jack (Vrett), to present this frivolous claim to the IELRB,” the CTU statement said. Vrett is the attorney who filed the complaint Thursday with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.


Ahead of a city election that will “determine so much for this city and its working families,” the union described the matter as “regrettable” and “frivolous,” adding: “Generally, the Union can spend its money any way it chooses, provided its expenditures are authorized under the Union Constitution.”

The complaint seeks to compel CTU to “cease and desist from using membership dues for political purposes,” to repay loans made by the union to its political committees and provide an accounting of all expenditures of membership dues directed toward political activity.

Some union members had already voiced opposition to CTU loaning dues money to its political action fund to support Johnson and its favored aldermanic candidates.


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