Election Dispute Leads to Impasse for Teachers Union


Published: NYT, July 2, 2004

CHICAGO, July 1 – A dispute over the results of a recent election has thrown the Chicago Teachers Union into turmoil. On Thursday the challenger reported for what she took to be her first day of work at the union’s offices and found that the locks had been changed.

The incumbent, Deborah Lynch, faced Marilyn Stewart in a runoff on June 11 and lost by more than 560 votes out of more than 22,000 cast. But a union committee assigned to investigate the election said it had been fraudulent and declared the results null and void.

Ms. Stewart has asked the American Federation of Teachers, an umbrella group providing services and guidelines to more than 3,000 teachers’ unions, to conduct its own investigation.

Ms. Lynch says she is not leaving office until the union, which represents more than 35,000 people, holds another election.

Howard L. Heath, a vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said: “According to our constitution, the last duly elected person is in charge until there is a certified election that changes that. Our committee invalidated the previous elections. Lynch is staying in power.”

Mr. Heath said Ms. Lynch had changed the locks because people from Ms. Stewart’s camp had gone to the office days earlier handing out letters of termination to more than a dozen of Ms. Lynch’s employees.

“Our members have spoken,” The Associated Press quoted Ms. Stewart as saying. “They have chosen someone else. And she needs to leave.”

Alex Wohl, a spokesman for the American Federation of Teachers, said his organization did not have a protocol for a situation like this. “It’s not something that happens that frequently, so we don’t have standard operating procedures on that,” Mr. Wohl said. “Tempers are high.”


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