Women Organizing Women proves action can beat the Machine

Date: 
01/15/2015
Team

Some of the WOW Team: Cassie Creswell, Mary Hughes, Shannon Carter, Karen Fraid, Rousemary Vega and Carolyn Brown

With the majority of people at the Women against the Machine event, presented by Women Organizing Women (WOW), being focused on Chicago's educational system, news that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) PAC-Legislative committee and Executive Committee's endorsed Patrick Daley Thompson in the Bridgeport (11th Ward) race was a shock. However, true to their name and determination, WOW helped deliver a knockout punch to the Daley political machine, last night. 

Sullivan

Maureen Sullivan

"They [CTU House of Delegates] just endorsed me," shouted Maureen Sullivan, 11th Ward Candidate, over the phone 20 minutes after the big announcement. "WOW, Bob Fioretti [Mayoral Candidate] and Raise your Hands were some of the major prongs in our effort to get that endorsement!" 

When WOW learned about the CTU PAC and Executive Committee endorsements, they sent the following open letter: 

January 14, 2015
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
     We write you today because we are heartsick and confused.
It has come to our attention that the PAC-Legislative committee has recommended the endorsement of Patrick Daley Thompson for Alderman of the 11th Ward, and the Executive Committee has voted to endorse him based upon that recommendation. Now, this endorsement will be up for consideration by the House of Delegates.
We know the CTU endorsement of Patrick Daley Thompson to be a mistake.
We stand in the face of education reforms that seek to standardize human children, categorize them, separate them and segregate them. The appeal of these reforms signifies a weak point in our national culture: we have allowed ourselves to be divided.
     Bridgeport stands as a microcosm of the city. The machine culture of Bridgeport has taken over Chicago. This culture gave birth to Mayoral Control. Make no mistake: the battles we fight citywide and nationally begin with ideas had by men from Bridgeport and places like it.
     It boggles the mind. Why would any organization seek to endorse a candidate that embodies a platform that would undermine the work of that very organization?
     Why would educators back a candidate that seeks to undermine the work they do?
     Why would the CTU back a candidate who is on the record as being against an elected school board, an issue near and dear to the hearts of teachers and families across the city?
     Why would the CTU back a candidate that supports taking tax dollars away from CPS and giving them to private and charter non-union schools?
     Why would a union whose members have earned the support of parents and students citywide and across the nation support a candidate that embodies elitism and disenfranchisement for the majority of those families, especially families in black and brown communities?
     Why would a union support a candidate whose policy ideas include more of the same epic failure plus vouchers on top of it, which would further entrench the structural racism and class disparity that plagues education funding in Chicago?
     Why would a union destroy its own credibility regarding their endorsement for a progressive candidate for mayor by supporting the machine candidate in one of the most powerful wards in the city?
     Why would a union make itself look like a stereotype of a union, embedded with the local political kings and kingmakers, doing favors and making deals at the expense of children and families?
     Could such a union reasonably expect for parents to march in solidarity again? Or would parents be forgiven for feeling entirely betrayed?
     Brothers and Sisters, we recognize that the CTU has every right to endorse or not endorse candidates as they see fit. We do not seek to silence your voice in this troubled democracy. We know that our voices are strongest when we speak as one, unified, standing strong to protect our children.
     We implore you to remember that your decisions do not exist in a vacuum. We are in a battle for the soul of this beautiful city that we call home.
     Machines, political and mechanical, are made from interlocking pieces that interact with one another. One cannot fight a machine’s lever while embracing its gears. That simply isn’t how things work. Especially when the gears are grinding up one’s friends.
     The nation looks to Chicago as a beacon for labor and education advocacy and activism. If you choose to endorse candidates, you must remember that the whole world is watching.
     Will we continue to stand united as families and professional educators to fight the abuses perpetrated on the children, families, teachers and staff of the Chicago Public Schools? Or will shortsighted decisions today tie the hands of your most loyal allies as we seek to expand our base of support in a hostile political environment? Will a shortsighted decision today limit our ability to grow our movement to a critical mass of informed and engaged parents in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles?
     So very many things hinge on this one vote.
     Please teach the world how to use one precious vote in a way that uplifts your sisters and brothers.
Please help us lead.
Yours in solidarity,
Women Organizing Women
Rousemary Vega, Karen Fraid, Cassandre Creswell, Shannon Anne Carter, Mary Fahey Hughes, Carolina Gaete, Carolyn Brown
Those wishing to sign in support of this letter are welcome to add a comment indicating their support.  

Sullivan's campaign is nowhere near a shoe-in, it will take lots more volunteers, financial supporters, door knocking in the freezing cold, forums, phone calls, little sleep and lots of hot coffee. But, it is an example to candidates, campaigners and voters that supporting the ideas you believe in with actions can make a difference.

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