l nk UNION
Connecting you to your union, because together we are stronger. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2011
STOP UNION BUSTING
UIC Local Fights for Recognition Join Petition Campaign to Support Their Rights
A MAJORITY OF MORE THAN 1,000 FACULTY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-CHICAGO filed authorization cards with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board in the spring to join the IFT. The UIC United Faculty, Local 6456, is now officially an organized union under the law, but the university president and Board of Trustees have hired a unionbusting law firm and have vowed to fight the faculty’s right to organize. CONTINUED ON PAGE 3
BLATANT ATTACKS ON WORKERS, THEIR BENEFITS AND THEIR LEGALLY NEGOTIATED CONTRACTS HAVE MADE NATIONAL NEWS in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states this year. Though here in Illinois we haven’t always made the headlines, union members have faced similar attacks in recent months. So far, we’ve been successful in Past and fighting them off.
Here are just a few examples of what we’ve faced since the beginning of the year and the results. In January, the House passed House Bill 3628, which would have repealed collective bargaining rights for thousands of state employees and denied thousands more unorganized state workers the right to form and join a union. The Senate refused to take up the measure, in large to part because Illinois labor organizations came together to oppose the legislation. Thousands of IFT members and other unionists contacted their legislators to successfully fight off this attack on workers’ fundamental rights.
What has been the key to our success to date? SOLIDARITY. “Solidarity matters,” said IFT Director of Political Activities Steve Preckwinkle. “It is the single most powerful weapon we have to defend our members’ rights in the face of right wing attacks, in whatever form they take.”
IFT, Locals Prepare for SB 7 Reforms
Next came Senate Bill 512. During the final hours of the legislative session that concluded in May, legislative leaders decided not to call this horrible pension-cutting bill for a
IFT Interview Series A conversation with acclaimed children’s author Doreen Cronin
CONTINUED ON PAGE 4
Scholarship Winners IFT Robert G. Porter Scholarship winners announced
OUR PATH FORWARD
The Power of Labor Daniel J. Montgomery President
“ Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.” ~ Adam Smith, Scottish philosopher and economist
SOMEHOW IT’S INVIGORATING TO READ THE WORDS OF ADAM SMITH — so often invoked by economic conservatives and “tea partiers” — as Smith honors the same labor that those people are now so bent on destroying.
its work? I believe it is also our duty to those we serve — students, parents and the public.
The last nine months have made it more clear than ever before how crucial it is for the IFT as a union to participate fully in the life of the AFL-CIO and all our As we celebrate Labor Day, it is important associated labor partners. Our recent to reflect on our connection to “labor” in all its forms, no matter what our jobs are. pension fight is a terrific example of a battle that could not (and cannot) be I don’t have to tell you how the history of teachers unions contains in it the very won on our own. Labor’s “We Are One Illinois” coalition began with the IFT discomfort about labor that often hurts and the firefighters’ union working us today; some education professionals together to get all AFL-CIO public sector bristled at the idea that they could be part unions to coalesce and carry out a powof a labor movement, and yes, some erful campaign of member mobilization, still feel that way. But that is an old, sharing of resources and leadership, worn out prejudice. coordinated political lobbying and unified public messaging. What a Today we are a “Union of Professionals,” formidable force we were! Our tempobut we must always remember that we rary victory in the legislature, won represent and stand with workers and when House leaders declined to take other laborers who make up the diverse their horrific pension-destroying bill labor movement. Over time, the IFT’s (HB 512) to the body for a vote, was reach has broadened to encompass secured only because of the “We Are One members outside of education, and that Illinois” coalition and our solidarity has made us a far stronger organization. with labor (which included the IEA, even though they are not members Personally, I always felt that my profesof the AFL-CIO). sional duties as a high school English teacher included participating in my What must we do next to build on this union — what profession would not strength? At the state level, the IFT will advocate for itself and the conditions of continue to participate in the command-
Union Link is published six times a year in December, February, April, June, August and October by the Illinois Federation of Teachers, 500 Oakmont Lane, Westmont, IL 60559. Phone: 630/468-4080 www.ift-aft.org
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Daniel J. Montgomery President Chief Operating Officer Karen GJ Lewis Executive Vice President Marcia K. Campbell Secretary-Treasurer
ing and influential coalition we began for saving pensions and other important fights that lie ahead. But we need your help as members of local unions, too. By forming partnerships with other labor unions in your area, your IFT local will also increase its strength and effectiveness. Does your local participate in your local Central Labor Council (CLC)? Have you met with other labor leaders? Do you know which unions are active in your area? One of the important lessons I learned as a local president was that if my union expected other labor unions to help us when we were on strike or in tough negotiations, then we had to be there for them when they needed us. That is the essence of a partnership. And we will all always be stronger when we act in concert as one movement, bound together by our common work rather than divided by relatively minor differences in our particulars. I want to leave you with thought from a labor specialist who recently came to speak to the IFT Executive Board. He brought up a well-known Native American saying: “Sorrow shared is halved; joy shared is doubled.” He rewrote that epigram to speak to the idea of labor working together for a common purpose: “Power shared is doubled; risk shared is halved.” I wish you all a peaceful and restful Labor Day. Here’s to working hard together toward success in our cause in the coming year.
Amy Excell-Bailey Publications Director Dave Comerford Media Director Beth Camplain Art Director
CONTRIBUTORS Steve Preckwinkle Illinois Federation of Teachers Director of Political Activities
UIC LOCAL FIGHTS FOR RECOGNITION, continued
WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND
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Thousands of people have signed a petition on the IFT and UIC United Faculty Web sites to tell President Hogan and the UIC Board to stop wasting money on costly legal fights and to start working with the faculty union to promote the best interests of students and the university. “In light of the fact that the IELRB has ruled in our favor, it’s disappointing and, frankly, shameful to see the administration wasting taxpayer and student dollars on a high-priced union-busting law firm instead of working to improve education for students,” said Darold Barnum, member of UIC United Faculty, Local 6456,
Senate Bill 7
and UIC professor of Management and Information and Decision Sciences. Despite the administration’s threats and anti-union tactics, UIC United Faculty has begun writing a local constitution and forming a bargaining committee in preparation for negotiations with the university. The local is hopeful that the president and Board of Trustees will recognize their legal right to unionize so they can start addressing real concerns at the university, including giving the faculty a voice on campus.
SignPetition Visit ift-aft.org to sign a pre-written statement to UIC President Hogan and the board telling them to stop their wasteful, union-busting tactics.
SB 7,” said IFT Director of Field Operations Lee Wilson. “Trained IFT staff will be able to assist members as they navigate through the many ways this complex legislation will impact them and their students.”
LONG BEFORE THE REFORMS CONTAINED IN SENATE BILL 7 WERE SIGNED INTO LAW by Governor Quinn in May, IFT staff and locals across the state had begun the important task of reviewing the complex law line-by-line to evaluate exactly how it will impact current and future members.
Some locals got a jump start over the summer by conducting SB 7 informational sessions. Many more locals are planning seminars and workshops in the coming weeks. The IFT Senate Bill 7 work group will be continuing to develop print and online materials for local leader and member use, as well.
A multi-departmental work group of expert IFT staff was convened in the spring to begin the process of creating materials for use by locals to explain details of the law and answer members’ questions about it. During the summer, the staff group developed materials and conducted one-day training sessions for all IFT staff and the union’s Executive Board.
The IFT was a key voice, along with the Illinois Education Association, Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1, Illinois State Board of Education and education reform groups, in the collaborative process that resulted in the passage of Senate Bill 7 earlier this year.
“The IFT wants to ensure that our leaders and members have all the information they need as school districts statewide begin implementing aspects of
LearnMore For more information about the new law, visit ift-aft.org regularly for updates and materials as they become available.
An error appeared in the June/July issue of the IFT Union Link on page 7. In the article entitled “Changes in Educator Licensing Pass in SB 1799,” the phone number to contact the Illinois State Board of Education for information about educator licensing was incorrect. The correct number is 217/557-6763. We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused. U N I O N L I N K | A U G U ST/SEPTEMBER 2011
SOLIDARITY IS KEY TO PAST AND FUTURE SUCCESS, continued
vote. SB 512 would have reduced pension benefits for current members of public pension systems by requiring increased contributions to the plan. What stopped SB 512 bill in its tracks? Once again, it was the overwhelming effort of unions and our members working together. Under “We Are One Illinois,” a coalition of the IFT, Illinois State AFL-CIO, firefighters’ union, SEIU and other unions, labor established an action campaign that generated more than 80,000 phone calls and over 100,000 e-mails to legislators in opposition to the pension cuts. It was an unprecedented effort and clearly one legislators could not ignore. Most recently, Governor Quinn announced that he would not honor the state’s contracts with thousands of union members in 14 state agencies and refused to pay negotiated salary increases due to the employees, including many IFT members. The governor’s action is under review in the courts, but the IFT believes it is unconstitutional and a clear breach of contract. The
union has partnered with AFSCME and all of labor to seek to legally enforce the agreements bargained in good faith by the state and the unions and to secure the raises members were promised. These fights are far from over. The assault on worker rights is expected to continue in the upcoming veto session in October and during the next legislative session that begins in January. The IFT, our local unions and all of labor must continue to forge strong partnerships with one another to meet the challenges ahead, said IFT President Dan Montgomery. (See his column on page 2 of this Union Link.) “It is essential that labor stand together against the attacks we are facing, whether they are legislative, broken contracts or collective bargaining related. If there is a lesson to be learned from our success this spring, it is that a strong, coordinated effort among all potentially impacted unions and their members is a potent force that can make a huge difference in the outcomes of these events and lives of our members and their families,” Preckwinkle added.
acticentern Visit IFT’s ActionCenter to participate in current action campaigns.
with your lawmakers
THE IFT INTERVIEW SERIES is the
newest informative feature for our members in Union Link and on ift-aft.org. Learn what’s on the minds of recognized figures in education, labor, social activism, politics and more and get their perspectives on topics of interest to YOU.
interview series ift-aft.org/memberresources/interview Be sure to check future issues of Union Link and visit the IFT Web site to read the latest conversations, then let us know what you want to hear about and WHO you want to hear from!
UNION LINK | AUGUS T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1
Explaining to Students Why Unions Matter By Kati Gilson, member of the Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1, teacher at Sumner Elementary School
My students did not understand why I was taking regular trips to Madison to protest last winter. I teach preschool and was struggling to find ways for them to understand why it was so important. One day, I was reading the book “Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type” by Doreen Cronin and realized the book was about
working conditions, workers rights, striking and collective bargaining. Before the lesson, my students knew that they loved learning, their teachers, and their school. They couldn’t connect strikes and protests with their education. However, even our youngest children can understand decent working conditions and wages if presented in a way they can understand. This book teaches them these concepts using a fun plot and rhyme. The story begins with the cows and hens on the farm complaining about the cold. They demand the farmer provide electric blankets. After he refuses, the cows stop
giving milk and the hens stop laying eggs. Cows and hens began displaying signs saying “No milk, No eggs.” “Cows that type, hens on strike” the poor farmer doesn’t know what to do. So in comes Duck, the negotiator, to help them negotiate an agreement. The students understood that the animals were cold so they refused to work. Eventually, a deal is struck between management (the farmer) and workers (hens and cows). Of course, just like in the real world, an agreement does not end the conflict.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 7
What do you get when you combine a chilly barn, literate animals and an old-school farmer? A beloved, award-winning children’s
story with a suprising message about fairness and the power of collective action. The Caldecott Medal honor book is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, but its message is timeless. New York lawyer turned children’s author Doreen Cronin talked to Union Link about the book and why she thinks the lessons it teaches are important for children – and adults. UL: Many people who read “Click, Clack, Moo” (CCM) are surprised to find such a strong labor union message in a whimsical children’s story. What would you say to them? s Cronin giving a classroom reading of her popular children’s book.
An Interview with
Doreen Cronin “CLICK, CLACK, MOO: COWS THAT TYPE” WAS CRONIN’S FIRST OF MORE THAN A DOZEN PUBLISHED WORKS TO DATE. Since its publication, the book has been the inspiration for a stage play, an animated short video and numerous teaching materials for educators.
Cronin: I’ve heard a million times that this is a book about unions, but I honestly didn’t write it with that in mind. I’m very comfortable with a union mesage, though. The book is about joining together. It’s a very simple message that everybody deserves the same. If Farmer Brown is warm, then his cows should be, too. It’s just basic. UL: The story is a light-hearted tale about cows and chickens that go on strike
when Farmer Brown refuses to provide blankets to keep them warm in the cold barn. The barnyard duck serves as a neutral party, delivering messages and helping the two sides “negotiate” an agreement. How do you feel when you hear about teachers using the book to explain labor relations issues to young children? Cronin: I hear from teachers who use CCM all the time. Most of my e-mails are from teachers using it in their classroom to teach letter writing and other basic skills. But I’m thrilled to hear from teachers who use it in other ways, too. It says so much about the creativity and quality of teachers that they can take simple things like a children’s book and use them as creative tools to teach our children on so many different levels. Visit ift-aft.org/interviewseries to read the rest of the conversation with Doreen Cronin. Visit doreencronin.com to learn more about the author and where her books are sold.
U N I O N L I N K | A U G U ST/SEPTEMBER 2011
What’s In Store for IFT Members Steve Preckwinkle is director of political activities for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
THE ANNUAL VETO SESSION OF THE ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS OCTOBER 25 and is scheduled to end November 10. With all the turmoil still surrounding the state budget, pensions and collective bargaining rights, will anything important to IFT members happen during those three weeks? The answer is a definitive “Maybe.” Technically, there is no limit to the subjects that can be voted on during the so-called “veto” session. In other words, the legislature is not limited to considering only veto actions taken by the governor on bills passed during the spring session. Historically, decisions to either sustain or override the governor’s veto of bills were the major activities undertaken during this time. But today, many tough issues don’t get resolved during the normal spring session in time to be voted on. Those issues are the subject of hearings, meetings or behind-the-scenes negotiations over the course of the summer and early fall, and if enough progress is made to warrant a vote in the opinion of the leaders, votes can occur in the veto session. Even that is not the end. Since the legislature operates on a two-year cycle, matters not dealt with in the veto session can be voted on in January or anytime next year until the final adjournment in the spring.
Here are a few of the items that could come up this fall. Pensions The leaders still have public employee pensions on their radar, and talks are 6
UNION LINK | AUGU S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1
Session expected to be underway by the time you read this. Given the volume and complexities of the issues though, it may be difficult to come up with a bill by that time. Union leaders have said any new pension legislation must be constitutional, provide fair retirement benefits and ensure long term stability for the funds.
action was taken with respect to the statutory responsibilities of the office and who would perform them. Many of the ROEs are continuing to work without pay, hoping that the funds will be restored at some point. This could happen during the veto session.
The State Budget If you follow the state budget process closely, you know that the budget passed in May included major cuts to most of state government. This was due, in part, to the revenue estimates on which the budget was based - estimates some leaders believed were extremely conservative.
Collective Bargaining Rights The governor has been pushing legislation since January to deny collective bargaining rights to thousands of state employees. He failed in his first attempt, and again before the final adjournment in May. He has indicated to legislative leaders that this is one of his top priorities, so another push to strip bargaining rights is likely in October.
Some of the cuts, including those to public education, could be restored if actual revenue receipts in the first quarter of the new budget year exceed projections. Whether or not there will be action on this during veto session is uncertain. Speaker of the House Mike Madigan has said any revenue that exceeds projections should be used for debt reduction. Also related to the budget is a bill supported by the IFT and labor that would provide for the sale of bonds to pay many of the overdue bills the state owes thousands of vendors and medical providers. The bill would not create new debt, but rather provide a way to consolidate existing debt and pay it off quickly at lower interest rates. It is similar to the practice of transferring high-interest credit card balances to lower interest cards. The governor has also eliminated funding for the superintendents at the Regional Offices of Education (ROEs), though no
College Insurance Program (CIP) This plan is nearly bankrupt due to rising costs and lack of adequate funds from its four sources: state government, retiree premiums, active employees and community colleges. A bill offered in the spring session by Speaker Madigan would have eliminated all funding from the state in future years, exacerbating the problem. That bill was defeated by hard last minute lobbying by the IFT and IEA, but the extremely serious funding problems continue. The City Colleges of Chicago are not covered by this plan but could be once a resolution is reached. The IFT is working to find a solution to this that can be approved in the veto session. Veto Actions This is the one area that will get attention because our state constitution requires it. The governor can veto bills in total or in part. Vetoes potentially affecting IFT members thus far include:
• SB 168 State Employee Health Insurance (total veto). This bill would give a bipartisan legislative oversight panel authority to veto state employee health insurance contracts. The bill was passed after the state opted not to renew contracts with longtime providers Health Alliance and Humana, which cover over 100,000 employees and retirees. The matter is also the subject of litigation, so it is unknown what will happen on this issue in October.
ver to prevent the bill from going to the governor after it passed the House and Senate in May. The governor has expressed reservations about the bill. When he receives it, he will have 60 days to act. Since the bill did not pass by enough votes to ensure a veto override, it is assumed that Cullerton wants assurances it will be signed before it is sent to Quinn. The IFT took no position on SB 744 due to uncertainties over how education funding would be impacted.
EXPLAINING TO STUDENTS WHY UNIONS MATTER, continued
The story led to lively debates. I was able to incorporate vocabulary words like strike, collective bargaining, and negotiate with my preschoolers. I showed them that these actions are happening in their backyards by showing them pictures from Madison and from the March TIF Rally (see April’s Chicago Union Teacher).
Although I could not take them with me to the We Are One rally in April, we had a conversation about how I always take them in my heart and wanted to take them with me. We discussed how they couldn’t all fit in my car and decided the best way for me to take them was to make a sign using their handprints. So each child made a hand print which I then cut out and attached to my sign with the saying “Children and Families First” because after all, this is who it is about. The politicians, the billionaires, and the so-called “reformers” have forgotten the students are the VIPs. They are our future and deserve to be protected and respected by our society. We as teachers are their first line of defense and must speak up to protect our families. The Monday after the “We Are One” rally I brought in the sign and showed the children the pictures. My preschoolers understand what a protest march is and why it is important. As we gear up for what looks to be a big battle it is important for us to teach our children and families why we are taking a stand. We will need their support just as they need ours.
For more information about the 2011 Robert G. Porter Scholarship winners and the union’s scholarship programs, visit ift-aft.org/benefits/scholarships.
Reprinted with permission from the author and the Chicago Union Teacher
• SB 744 Gambling Expansion. This bill provides for a major expansion of gambling operations in the state. Senate President John Cullerton, a supporter of the bill, used a parliamentary maneu-
Note: At this time the governor has not acted on many other bills sent to him by the General Assembly. As action on those bills progresses, additional legislative overrides may be added to the fall agenda. Visit ift-aft.org for the latest updates.
Robert G. Porter
Alice Kautsky, Laura Kleinhans, Robert Kleinhans, Jane Russell and Dan Montgomery
Robert Kleinhans was selected to receive one of two 2011 IFT Robert G. Porter scholarships. Robert graduated from York High School in Elmhurst in June. He is the son of David and Laura Kleinhans, who is a member of the Elmhurst Paraprofessional and School-Related Personnel Council of the West Suburban Teachers Union, Local 571. Robert Kleinhans
Son of Laura Kleinhans, Elmhurst Paraprofessional and SchoolRelated Personnel Council of the West Suburban Teachers Union, Local 571
Carly Rocco was also named a winner of the 2011 IFT Robert G. Porter scholarship. Rocco is a recent graduate of Lyons Township High School in La Grange. She is the daughter of Barbara Rocco, a member of the Southwest Suburban Federation of Teachers, Local 943. Dan Montgomery, Barbara Rocco and Carly Rocco
Daughter of Barbara Rocco, Southwest Suburban Federation of Teachers, Local 943
Dues Redirection Notice Union members who wish to redirect the portion ($20) of their 2011-12 IFT per capita dues that might be used for contributions to political candidates may do so using the following process: Obtain a numbered IFT redirection request form from your local president. (Only original numbered forms will be accepted. No photocopies.) Fill out the form and return it to your local president. The president will certify (sign) the form to indicate your membership is in good standing in your local and mail your form to the IFT. You may designate your redirection to one of the following Executive Board-approved alternative, non-political expenditures: Carl Megel Special Education Scholarship: An IFT-sponsored scholarship awarded annually to a special education student. The Jesse White Tumbling Team Scholars Program: The Jesse White Tumblers is a nationally known team of young acrobats that was founded in 1959 by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. The Tumblers is comprised of children ages six and up residing in Chicago’s inner city housing projects. It serves as a juvenile delinquency prevention program; team members are required to abide by strict rules, which include staying in school, maintaining a C average and staying away from gangs and drugs. Over 10,000 children have participated in the program. IFT Robert G. Porter Scholarship: The union offers two $6,000 scholarships annually to the children of IFT members who are high school seniors and will be enrolled in an Illinois public university. Winning students receive $1,500 per year for four years. IFT Union Professional Development Program: The union’s newest program designed to provide quality, accessible professional development opportunities for all IFT members. Your redirection of the $20 COPE (Committee on Political Education) portion of IFT dues will be good for the current dues year only and is not retroactive. You may reapply each year between Sept. 1-30. Redirection for agency fee payers (non-members) is automatic.
U N I O N L I N K | A U G U ST/SEPTEMBER 2011
ILLINOIS FEDERATION OF TEACHERS
Illinois Federation of Teachers P.O. Box 390 Westmont, IL 60559
Permit no. 40 OAK BROOK, IL
Paraprofessional and School-Related Personnel/ Public Employees Conference October 21-22, 2011 Crowne Plaza Springfield Springfield, IL IFT Higher Education Conference November 18-19, 2011 IFT Robert M. Healey Center Westmont, IL For a full listing of IFT events, visit ift-aft.org/eventscalendar
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IFTV ICES Who would you like to hear from in IFT’s new Interview Series?
CONNECTING YOU TO YOUR UNION, BECAUSE TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER.
Speak Up! Visit ift-aft.org/iftvoices today where you can respond to this and other questions.
IFT's August/September 2011 issue of the union's bi-montlhy newsletter, Union Link.