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Sharkey tries to have it both ways

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Monday Tribune front page

The recent trip to Venezuela by a group calling itself a Chicago Teachers Union delegation has upset some union members and expats who question the point of the tour and take issue with the group’s praise of the country’s disputed government.

The four travelers, who crowdfunded the July trip under the banner of the CTU, met with Venezuelan government officials and educators, visited a commune and were featured in local media. […]

And though the four travelers regularly called themselves a “CTU delegation” online, the union representing close to 25,000 people has sought to distance itself from the trip, stating the CTU did not endorse, sponsor or fund the trip.

Asked on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” last week about “some controversy” surrounding the excursion, union President Jesse Sharkey said: “Members go all kinds of places in the summer. This was neither an official trip nor something that was funded by the union. This is a group of people who are members of the CTU who decided to go to Venezuela.”

* The Sun-Times points out something not mentioned in the Tribune story

Much of the criticism has come from a few educators in the “Members First” CTU caucus, which lost the CTU election in May that saw Sharkey regain his position as president. Members First is generally more centrally aligned politically than the current progressive CTU leadership and urges the union’s focus to remain on rank-and-file members rather than national or international political issues.

* But the CTU’s official Twitter account retweeted a link to this story

Introduction to CTU Delegation to Venezuela

This spring, the Chicago Teachers Union Executive Board and House of Delegates each unanimously passed a resolution condemning Donald Trump and U.S. intervention in Venezuela. Resources that never seemed to find their way to our classrooms are being used to intervene in the democratic processes of other countries instead.

This blog represents the members delegation of the Chicago Teacher’s Union that are currently in Venezuela to learn from educators and activists on the ground. The rest of this week, we will be reporting on what we learn and see while we are here. We are being aided by Dozthor Zurlent (Educator) and Miguel Ángel Nuñez (Facilitator) from the Education Ministry of Venezuela.

* And

One of those posts [retweeted by the CTU] was from teacher Sarah Chambers, a member of the CTU executive board on the trip, who wrote, “While staying in #Venezuela, we didn’t see a single homeless person. USA is the richest country in the world; yet, there are homeless people everywhere. Over 17k CPS students are homeless… This is why @CTULocal1 is fighting for fair housing #CTUAgainstVezIntervention.”

* The trip had hallmarks of an official delegation, despite the CTU’s denials

The teachers’ delegation met with leaders from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Communes, Ministry of Education, Adult Education Teachers, and students, as well as on-the-ground activists.

One important meeting was when the delegation sat down with Vladimir Castillo, the Venezuelan Director of International Affairs. They learned that Chavez started to talk about socialism in 2005, at the World Social Forum in Brazil, and that a few years after 2007 and 2008, community councils emerged as a result.

* The delegation also met with a major union leader, according to their own blog

Yesterday, we had the amazing opportunity to meet with Jacobo Torres de León, the president of the Central of Bolivarian Socialist Workers. In his compelling interview, he spoke about his journey alongside President Maduro, his union brother and now Venezuelan President, and how they worked together to improve the rights of workers and unions.

* And now Sharkey is on the defensive at a crucial time

Sharkey says with 25,000 members, the CTU is a diverse union, and its members are proud – they represent the union in many different activities – and he has no interest in policing what everyone says.

But more than that, he says right now, members should focus on being unified while they negotiate this critical contract.

“I would say to the people for and against Venezuela: please stop, it’s not where we need to be going right now,” Sharkey said.

* Another Sharkey quote

“I have no interest in policing what they’re going to say. I don’t have the ability even if I wanted to do that.”

Meh. Whatever you think of Venezuela, you’d think a union could at the least publicly chastise a group that misrepresented itself on a foreign mission.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 12:27 pm:

    This may be why the Eastern Bloc exists.


  2. - Boone's is Back - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 12:27 pm:

    “I have no interest in policing what they’re going to say. I don’t have the ability even if I wanted to do that.”

    What do you think Sharkey’s response would be if the Mayor said something like that? What an abdication of leadership.


  3. - What? - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    I wonder if part of their “learning” convesations included this? - Venezuela’s Teachers And Students Skip School For Survival: https://www.npr.org/2019/06/29/736573450/venezuelas-teachers-and-students-skip-school-for-survival


  4. - CubsFan16 - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    Anyone who knows someone actually from Venezuela would know that the comment from the teacher about there being no homeless people there is insane. Being homeless isn’t even the worst of the problems down there. They were likely given a propaganda-esque tour. We should expect more social responsibility from our educators.


  5. - GOP Truth Squad - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 12:34 pm:

    Anything that puts Sharkey on the defensive is a good thing.


  6. - anti-communist - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 12:54 pm:

    “While staying in #Venezuela, we didn’t see a single homeless person”

    That CTU executive board member sure sounds a lot like Avery Brundage circa 1936


  7. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 12:55 pm:

    The planning meeting had to be precious.

    Let’s go on an international trip to learn about how better education is done.

    Ok, which of the countries that do a better job teaching our kids for less money should we visit?

    Ummm, none of them. Let’s choose a poor bedraggled country that we can feel superior to.

    Great, the ayes have it.


  8. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 12:57 pm:

    Average median anuual income for a teacher in Venezuela is: $1,141.

    Must be a real cheap place to live.


  9. - Responsa - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 12:58 pm:

    When I saw this bizarre CTU delegation trip in the news with no attempt by anyone in union leadership to suggest it was not officially sponsored or sanctioned I was surprised–but had to assume that it was in fact sponsored and sanctioned. With its propaganda mission now fully exposed Sharkey has some floor sweeping to do to get rid of this miscalculation regardless of whose decision it was to go.


  10. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    If you think the exodus from Illinois is bad, venezuela, since 2018, sees about 5000 people per day taking a hike. Things must be real good there.

    I hope these four CTU members dont have access to any children.


  11. - Steve - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 1:11 pm:

    Migrant caravans listen to the CTU ! Your country has better education than the Chicago Public School system because your schools don’t close. Socialists would never lie. Why come to America when Venezuela is more progressive?


  12. - WH Mess - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    Sharkey: I don’t have the ability…

    Twitter: Are you saying your official account has been hacked? By Venezuela’s last remaining ally, the Russians?


  13. - BR91 - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    Sarah Chambers is kind of whacky. I felt sorry for her when
    She lost her job for speaking out against CPS, but since then, I have seen nothing that suggests she’s playing with a full deck.

    One of her tirades was against an airline that wouldn’t fly into Chicago over break when six inches of snow were dumped on the area. So she and her travel mates missed a connecting flight elsewhere on a different airline.

    Kind of catty on my part, but it made me realize that she’s no better than most pols, and suffers from some serious self-delusion about just how important she is.


  14. - BR91 - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 1:23 pm:

    I forgot to add: Sharkey married into an ultra-wealthy East Coast Family. I’m told his wife’s parents are worth a whole lot of coin. Think: the Breakers ‘n Newport (or is it Providence?). Regardless.

    Anyone else confirm this?


  15. - cdog - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    Sharkey’s google-able credentials are well established. He is very, very, very far-left and he is the lead labor representative of an organization with a $7.7B budget, funded mostly by property taxes.

    Remember when Rauner used the word “collectivist(s)” about a million times? I do.


  16. - Colin O'Scopy - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    @BR91 =I’m told his wife’s parents are worth a whole lot of coin. Think: the Breakers ‘n Newport (or is it Providence?). Regardless. Anyone else confirm this?=

    I can confirm that Sharkey’s father-in-law is Richard fain, Chairman & CEO or Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

    Beaucoup bucks.


  17. - JW Hilton - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    “crowdfunded” - did they ever release the names of the funders?


  18. - JS Mill - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 2:00 pm:

    =This may be why the Eastern Bloc exists.=

    LOL, whew that is a knee slapper.

    I’m thinking there is a more base reason, maybe check Durkin’s comments on another thread.


  19. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 2:15 pm:

    ==What an abdication of leadership.==

    A leader is supposed to tell you what opinions you could have or where you go on vacation? Who knew?

    Sharkey said it wasn’t a CTU endorsed or sponsored trip. What more is needed? Maybe he should fall on a table like Matt Foley to emphasize the point?


  20. - Regular democrat - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 2:22 pm:

    Looks like a well timed article by city hall. Teachers union always wants it both ways


  21. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 2:36 pm:

    Nobody ever sees anything bad when they visit North Korea, either. You got played, Comrades.

    I bet Mr. Sharkey and his father-in-law have some spirited discussions over the holiday turkey or tofurkey of their choice.


  22. - Rank & File - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 4:49 pm:

    How about when CTU took a trip to Honduras and met with their EX President? Not the stuff rank and file members like seeing money spent on.

    http://hondurasresists.blogspot.com/2013/06/honduran-ex-president-mel-zelaya-meets.html


  23. - Rank & File - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 5:02 pm:

    This is not the first time Sharkey tried having it both ways…

    “The president of Chicago Teachers Union violated the rights of one of his own staffers just before taking over the helm of the labor giant, according to a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board.

    The NLRB, the top federal labor arbiter of workplace disputes and union elections, said in an unanimous ruling that the union failed to live up to its own ideals. The board found CTU guilty of “threatening employees because they engaged in union and protected concerted activities” stemming from an incident involving then-vice president Jesse Sharkey, who has since become the president of the 25,000-member union.”

    https://freebeacon.com/issues/union-president-slapped-for-threatening-workers/


  24. - Cook County Commoner - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 5:03 pm:

    The rank and file CTU members may want to rethink the color red for their uniform t-shirts.


  25. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Aug 22, 19 @ 6:11 pm:

    This story is bonkers. CTU, this is not your best look.


  26. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:15 pm:

    -To us, we were taught that flag means you like the part of the country you come from.-

    Except when that flag was used that part of the country was NOT part of the country. It was in treasonous rebellion and defeated and forced back into the Union. You were taught wrong.


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