Posted by Ray Long at 2:50 p.m.SPRINGFIELD —State lawmakers today started to clarify who gets to weigh in should the Chicago Teachers Union ever decide to pursue a strike vote.
At the heart of the matter was the wording of the strike provision in this spring's previously approved education package that would allow Chicago to lengthen its school days, make it harder for Chicago teachers to strike and make it easier throughout Illinois to fire bad teachers.The original legislation, which is awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature, would require a 75 percent vote for Chicago teachers to strike, but teachers maintained the provision was written too broadly. Chicago union officials said only the teachers eligible to vote in union elections, for example, should be allowed to vote on whether to strike.Sponsoring Sen. Kimberly Lightford said the follow-up measure makes it clear that only the roughly 26,000 eligible teacher union members would be allowed to cast votes on whether to strike. Lightford told the Senate Education Committee the new legislation would not allow teachers to cast votes on whether to strike if they have opted out of union activities and make so-called “fair share” dues-like payments to the union. That group of about 2,600 workers does not vote in union elections, she said.Downstate Republican Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, who has worked on reform legislation, raised questions about the latest provision. The former teacher from Okawville said workers making fair share payments “have as much to lose” if there is a strike. Lightford countered that fair share workers also could “cross the picket line” during a strike, a move far less likely by full-fledged union members.The panel sent the legislation to the full Senate on a 7-0 vote, with Luechtefeld the sole senator voting “present.”