MTA Friend of Labor Award

chicago teachers unionChicago Teachers Union

The Chicago Teachers Union is an organization of educators formed in 1937 and dedicated to advancing and promoting quality public education, improving teaching and learning conditions, and protecting members’ rights. But the CTU is more than that: It is a trailblazer for the common good. Before there was a Red for Ed movement, the CTU was already transforming public education through rank-and-file unionism. Because CTU members have been willing to put up a good fight for decades, students and educators have won improved schools, and neighborhoods have grown stronger. Under former President Karen Lewis, the CTU pushed back against school closings, radical disparities in school resources, and other policies that hurt students. This MTA Friend of Labor award makes special recognition in honor of Lewis, who died in February, but the CTU under President Jesse Sharkey continues to offer inspiration as the MTA continues its own advocacy in advancing antiracism and common good principles.

karen lewis
Karen Lewis, then-President of the Chicago Teachers Union, applauds during a union rally in 2012, when she led educators through the union’s first strike in 25 years. The CTU has led the way for the MTA and many other education unions around the country in centering racial and social justice issues in its fights for the common good. Lewis died in February after a long battle with cancer