City Club of Chicago: Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey
April 25, 2019
Jesse Sharkey – President – Chicago Teachers Union
Jesse Sharkey was appointed president of the 25,000-member Chicago Teachers Union on September 5, 2018, replacing retiring President Karen Lewis. A member of the CTU since 1998, Jesse has been a champion of workers’ rights throughout his career, believing that the Union’s true power comes from the strength of its rank-and-file and their willingness to fight for the betterment of Chicago’s public school students, families and communities.
Jesse served as CTU vice president from 2010 until 2018, during which time he played a key role in two rounds of contract negotiations, the merger between the CTU and the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, and the Union’s historic 2012 strike. He was on the front lines of the fight against school closings in 2013 and the ongoing campaign for progressive sources of revenue to support the schools Chicago’s students deserve. Prior to being elected to CTU leadership in 2010, Jesse taught social studies in CPS for 12 years at Senn High School and Chicago Vocational Career Academy, where he also coached chess, served as union delegate and worked with community and activist groups such as the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. In 2004, he played a leading role in the Save Senn campaign that mobilized hundreds of parents to oppose the takeover of the school by a military academy, an experience that taught him the value of defending traditional public schools against privatization.
Jesse represents the CTU on the American Federation of Teachers’ (AFT) Executive Council, and sits on the AFT Executive Board. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University, where he studied history and education. He currently lives with his wife and two children in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood.