Chicago Teachers Union political spending up nearly 3X under Stacy Davis Gates

Mailee Smith

Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith
October 3, 2023

Chicago Teachers Union political spending up nearly 3X under Stacy Davis Gates

The Chicago Teachers Union’s latest filing with the U.S. Department of Labor confirms the union is pouring more money than ever into politics.

The Chicago Teachers Union is well on its way to becoming the “new machine” in Chicago politics under President Stacy Davis Gates.

That’s what the union’s spending shows in its most recent report to the U.S. Department of Labor.

CTU spent more money on “political activities and lobbying” in its 2023 fiscal year than it did in any previous year since it started filing federal reports.

Specifically, the union nearly tripled what it spent on politics in 2023, from just over $1 million in 2022 to over $3 million in 2023.

Former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot predicted CTU’s ultimate political ambitions back in 2021, when she was interviewed by The New York Times.

I think, ultimately, they’d like to take over not only Chicago Public Schools, but take over running the city government,” she said.

That’s exactly what CTU has done with its political spending.

CTU funneled nearly $2.3 million to its employee and lobbyist, Brandon Johnson, to fund his successful campaign to become Chicago mayor. Now CTU controls both the school system and City Hall. Johnson’s inability to distinguish himself from the union backing him makes it likely he will continue pushing CTU’s agenda.

Yet CTU’s political giving hasn’t been well-received by some of its members.

At least a portion of its 2023 political spending came from member dues without consulting the members themselves. After an initial outcry from members who felt the union acted without their consent, CTU passed a resolution to apportion $8 a month from each member’s dues as individual contributions to the union’s political action committee, up to $2 million.

The union’s 2023 filing with the U.S. Department of Labor, which covers from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023, shows at least some of those transactions. The union’s largest itemized disbursements for politics were a $1.5 million and a $500,000 transfer from the union to its political action committee for the purpose of a “municipal election.” The report also shows the union “loaned” its PAC $415,000 and has yet to be repaid the full amount, with over $122,000 still outstanding.

Overall, CTU’s current path includes tripled political spending, decreased spending on teachers, attacks on low-income parents’ efforts to advance their children’s educations and driving away nearly 500 members.

It’s not a healthy path for Chicago or CTU – and it certainly won’t be healthy for the legacy of Davis Gates.

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