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l nk UNION

Connecting you to your union, because together we are stronger. SPRING 2015

Why Union Matters As we each go about our busy lives, it’s important to remember that we’re all part of a strong, united group of professionals across Illinois fighting for us and those we serve – our union, the IFT. Whether we work as teachers, PSRPs, higher education faculty or staff, or state employees, we each benefit from the power of our union From every corner of Illinois — every day, often in ways we may not even realize. from rural Ullin to urban Chicago —

our union empowers us to make a You probably know that your local difference. Together, we are IFT. union and the IFT help negotiate contracts with your employer to ensure that you receive the wages and benefits you deserve, but the union isn’t the phone company or an insurance provider


Our Path Forward

The President, the Governor, and Pullman.


The Dangers of RTW

Learn why “right to work” would be disastrous for Illinois.


of services. Rather, YOU are the union, and the union is YOU – a powerful community of workers looking out for the common good. Inside this issue of Union Link (see pages 6-7), you’ll find a helpful reminder about the many ways the IFT makes a positive difference in our lives as members – at work and at home. But through our collective action, the union also helps us improve our communities as we advocate for education and public services. From every corner of Illinois – from rural Ullin to urban Chicago – our union empowers us to make a difference. Together, we are IFT.

Keep Your Eye on ESEA

H.R. 5 would jeopardize funding for our neediest schools.


LEADers Build Power IFT leaders develop plans to strengthen our union.


The President, the Governor, and Pullman Daniel J. Montgomery President

A few weeks ago, I had the honor and fun of taking my 10-year-old son James to Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood to attend the signing ceremony for President Obama’s Executive Order declaring the Pullman Historic District a national monument. I thought it would be good history for James, but I couldn’t have guessed at the lesson in irony it provided. It was extraordinary. As you may know, Pullman was the birthplace of A. Phillip Randolph’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first all-black trade

disproportionately hurt everyday families and has made villainizing our unions his top priority. One of his first official actions was a blatantly illegal power grab seeking to silence the collective voice of workers through an executive order limiting the collection of dues, and a federal lawsuit aimed at workers and our unions. Our billionaire Governor who spent more than $20 million of his own money (in addition to another $40 million from others) in the most expensive gubernatorial race in state history has the chutzpah to suggest unions have an outsized influence in politics! I guess

Our billionaire Governor - who spent more than $20 million of his own money (in addition to another $40 million from other) in the most expensive gubernatorial race in state history - has the chutzpah to suggest unions have an outsized influence in politics! union and a critical engine that helped build the African-American middle class in this country. The President’s remarks were strikingly thoughtful and truly moving at this national celebration of collective voice and civil and workers’ rights. Just as striking, and ironic, was the presence in the audience of our new Governor, who is attacking workers’ rights with an historic intensity. Governor Rauner has proposed drastic, unnecessary cuts to social services that

Union Link is published four times a year by the Illinois Federation of Teachers. 500 Oakmont Lane, Westmont, IL 60559. Phone: 630/468-4080 www.ift-aft.org

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Union Link, 500 Oakmont Lane, Westmont, IL 60559. MEMBERS: To change your address, notify your local union treasurer.

the total tax savings in the hands of Illinois’s richest 11 percent, while decimating the social safety net and education for the rest of us. So, as my son and I sat there at Pullman, listening to the President’s stirring remarks about justice, workers’ rights, history, and the national park service, I couldn’t help but think that Rauner must not have been there to celebrate labor, like President Obama and the other 1,000 attendees. No, Rauner must have been the one person there to celebrate George Pullman, the millionaire union-busting industrialist. In solidarity,


in his ideal world the tycoons would go unchecked. Rauner has suggested unconstitutionally gutting the retirement security and health insurance of retired teachers and other public servants. And his recent budget proposal is built on the backs of working families and balanced not with revenue but, presumably, a magic wand. He has let expire Illinois’s 2011 income tax rate, a move which puts nearly 50 percent of

GOING GREEN: Union Link is printed on recycled paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and printed with environmentallyfriendly soy-based inks. © 2015 ILLINOIS FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, AFT, AFL-CIO

Daniel J. Montgomery President Chief Operating Officer

E-mailDan I’d love to hear from you! Please write to me at emaildan@ift-aft.org.

Aviva Bowen Director of Communications

Karen GJ Lewis Executive Vice President

Beth Camplain Media Director Amy Excell Media Director

Marcia K. Campbell Secretary-Treasurer

Kenzo Shibata Media Director

Jennifer Visk Professional Support Staff Communications

For fun, here is a compendium of some recent remarks made both by President Obama and Governor Rauner: President Barack Obama (Pullman, 2/19/2015) “Over the years, Brotherhood leaders and supporters were fired, they were harassed. But true to A. Philip Randolph’s call, they stood firm, they held their ground. And 12 years to the day after A. Philip Randolph spoke in that hall in Harlem, they won, and Pullman became the first large company in America to recognize a union of black workers. “And this was one of the first great victories in what would become the Civil Rights Movement. It wouldn’t be the last victory. It was his union that allowed A. Philip Randolph to pressure President Roosevelt to desegregate the defense industry. It was those Pullman porters who gave the base by which A. Philip Randolph could convince President Truman to desegregate the Armed Forces. It was those porters who helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, who were the central organizers of the March on Washington. “...as Americans, we believe that workers’ rights are civil rights. That dignity and opportunity aren’t just gifts to be handed down by a generous government or by a generous employer; they are rights given by God, as undeniable and worth protecting as the Grand Canyon or the Great Smoky Mountains.” Governor Bruce Rauner (State of the State address, 2/4/2015) “We must eliminate this sort of political dealing. Government unions should not be allowed to influence the public officials they are lobbying and sitting across the bargaining table from through campaign donations and expenditures. That has been federal law since 1947.” President Obama (Pullman, 2/19/2015) “It’s why we keep fighting to help working families feel more secure in a constantly changing world with child care and equal pay, a higher minimum wage, and paid sick days -- something I know that’s on the ballot here in Chicago. It’s why we have to keep fighting to treat these issues like the economic priorities they are. But they’re also ideas about justice and fairness and the worth of every individual.” Governor Rauner (State of the State address, 2/4/2015) “These zones will give employees the freedom to choose whether or not they want to join a union. Local communities - local voters - deserve this option so that they can compete with other states and other nations for new businesses and new investment.” President Obama (Pullman, 2/19/2015) “So in 1893, a recession struck America. Pullman slashed his workers’ pay, some saw their wages fall dramatically. Pullman didn’t take a pay cut himself and he didn’t lower the rents in his company town. So his workers organized for better pay and better working and living conditions. A strike started here in Pullman, and it spread across the country. Federal troops were called to restore order; and in the end, more than 30 workers were killed. “Eventually, they returned to their jobs. But the idea they had sparked, the idea of organizing and collectively bargaining, couldn’t be silenced. Could not be silenced. And so just six days after the strike ended, an act of Congress established Labor Day -- a day to honor working men and women of America. And gradually, our country would add protections that we now take for granted: a 40-hour work week, the weekend, overtime pay, safe workplace conditions, and the right to organize for higher wages and better opportunities.” Governor Rauner (Inaugural Address, 1/12/2015) “They see government union bosses negotiating sweetheart deals across the table from governors they’ve spent tens of millions of dollars to help elect. That’s a corrupt bargain, that’s a corrupt bargain, and the people of Illinois are left to wonder where do they fit in? Who’s looking out for them and their families?” U N I O N L I N K | SP RI N G 2015


Faculty at U of I Springfield Join IFT we can look at the budget documents and bargain a contract that’s fair for us, the community, and the students we serve.”

The IFT welcomed 137 new members in February when the faculty at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) won a major organizing campaign and was certified by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB). The UIS win is part of a strong trend in higher education where faculties push back against college administrators who are turning university teaching into an unstable, temporary job. Stability for educators means higher retention rates and more experience in the classroom. “A nion for UIS is a win for the faculty, but also a win for the students,” said Donna Bussell, professor of English and linguistics. “Studies have shown that public universities with faculty unions have lower tuition rates, less bureaucratic bloat, and higher graduation rates. UIS educators believe that sharing governance with university administration will allow us to better advocate both for ourselves and on behalf of our students.” Shared governance with the administration and freedom from retaliation when advocating for the rights of students were key reasons the faculty sought to organize. Last May, faculty at UIS’s sister school, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), 4


IFT President Dan Montgomery praised the UIS faculty for their commitment to their institution and their students.

signed their first union contract, and in July non-tenure track faculty at University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign won recognition for their union. In December, UIS faculty submitted union authorization cards signed by a majority showing interest in union representation. The next step for the new union is to negotiate its first contract. “Obviously, we’re going to be negotiating for fair pay and benefits — faculty salaries at UIS rank 11th out of 14 of peer institutions – but we hope to use these upcoming negotiations to bring transparency to UIS and improve our University for the students,” said Lynn Fisher, professor of anthropology and archeology. “Now that we have a union,

“This is a major victory for the entire University of Illinois community,” said Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “I’m extremely proud of these dedicated faculty members and admire the incredible unity they displayed during this effort. This will be a new era for UIS - one that includes shared governance between faculty and administration. Their successful work will ensure that UIS remains the highquality institution that attracts and retains top tier faculty for its students.”

MoreInformation To read more about organizing visit, ift-aft.org.

means far fewer dollars spent lobbying for pesky minimum-wage hikes, workplace safety and anti-discrimination laws. Not to mention fewer dollars to pro-union candidates. The intended result of all this is lower pay for all workers.”



“Right to Work”

From his first days in office, Governor Rauner has been leveling ideological attacks on middleclass families and our unions rather than offering real solutions to our state’s fiscal problems. Among these attacks is a proposal for “employee empowerment zones” that he is promoting at visits around the state, despite a recent opinion from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that such zones would be illegal. The Governor claims his proposal is only intended to give local communities more choice about unionization, but don’t be fooled. His plan is simply “right to work” (RTW) in disguise, and it would be disastrous for Illinois. Here’s why.

seriously erodes wages and benefits and compounds racial and gender wage inequality. Right To Work will drop wages in Illinois between 5.7 to 7.3 percent.” The study also found that: • RTW lowers worker earnings. • The evidence is inconclusive on RTW’s employment effect. • RTW reduces union membership. • RTW increases gender and racial wage inequality.

The Southern Illinoisan also criticized the Governor’s proposal for taking away workers’ rights: “When he visited the Southern Illinoisan editorial board during his campaign, he said he was not anti-union and supported collective bargaining. Rauner’s rhetoric this week attacked unions, blaming them for the state of the Illinois economy. Rauner now claims that creating right-to-work zones…would create 61,000 new jobs. We aren’t sure where that number is coming from. Perhaps he’s calculating the number of jobs that would be created by paying workers lower wages than those negotiated by the unions. Perhaps by paying employees less, Rauner believes employers will create more positions. Or perhaps he is counting the new jobs companies will bring when they move to the state knowing there are pockets where they don’t have to bargain for wages, where workers don’t have rights and where they can let people go without cause.’

RTW laws are designed to take away workers voices on the job and destroy our unions. They are a scheme to boost profits for corporations and the wealthiest one percent of Americans on the backs of middle-class families. In states like Michigan, Indiana, and others that have “right-to-work” laws, research has shown time and time again that communities and workers have suffered — not benefitted – from these regressive policies.

• RTW reduces employee benefits and The fact is that “right to work” is simply WRONG for Illinois. As IFT President increase workplaces fatalities. Dan Montgomery said recently about the • Adopting a RTW law would have Governor’s proposal, “… let’s call this negative impacts on the Illinois what it is: a right-wing political attack economy and budget. on the unions who give teachers, first responders, nurses, and other workers a While inconvenient to the Governor’s argument, these facts prove that “rightcollective voice. These regressive policies to-work” laws do not create economic have been proven time and time again to development. And they’ve led the drive down wages and increase inequalmedia to question Rauner’s motives. ity for entire communities, not just union members. We wish the Governor would When the Governor introduced his start focusing on our real challenges, not RTW proposal earlier this year, statered herrings.” house reporter and Crain’s contributor Rich Miller called him out for wasting time on a bad idea.

According to a recent University of Illinois study, “…Right To Work (RTW)

“The goal here is to use right-to-work laws to bankrupt the unions. And that


Learn more about the dangers of “right to work” online at ift-aft.org. U N I O N L I N K | SP RI N G 2015


Why Union Matters

A powerful voice on the job – You and your colleagues have the right to advocate for yourselves and those you serve with your employer. And together, you are more powerful than you would be alone. Strength in numbers – You have the support of more than 100,000 fellow IFT members across Illinois, 1.5 million members of the American Federation of Teachers, and more than 10-million members of the AFL-CIO. Collective bargaining rights – You have a say on the job. As a union member, you have the right to negotiate with your employer over wages, benefits, conditions, and other issues that impact your work. A contract – Once bargained, you and your colleagues vote on the resulting employement contract, which includes important provisions that provide the structure for a positive and fair workplace environment.

Each of us in the IFT is part of an organization of 103,000 dedicated public servants who live and work in community across Illinois. Together, we have the power to make a positive impact on our lives, our professions, and our communities. But too often we forget the many ways our union helps us all, so read on for an important reminder about why union MATTERS.


Over many years, the collective action of union members has had a substantial impact on wages, benefits, equality, and workplace protections. Unions have played a pivotal role in securing important gains that benefit BOTH union and non-union workers. The weekend, the 6


40-hour work week, the minimum wage, retirement security, the Civil Rights Act, paid sick and vacation leave, and many other things Americans take for granted today exist because unions fought for them, and won. Strong unions create strong communities. As the inequality gap between the very rich and very poor widens in Illinois and across the nation, unions are more important today than ever for middleclass families.


Your IFT membership provides you with important powers and protections that aren’t afforded to non-union workers.

Job protections – You receive union support to ensure that your employer treats you fairly and adheres to the terms of your contract. Professional resources – You have access to union professional development training to enhance your workplace and leadership skills. Lobbying and political action– The IFT empowers you to make your voice heard with legislators on important issues that impact you and your profession. Consumer beneftis – IFT offers you savings on a wide-range of consumer benefits and services. Communications - The union keeps you informed and engaged through ift-aft.org, social media, e-mail, and this quarterly publication, Union Link.


While the IFT provides many important benefits, none of them would be possible without the involvement of every member. The IFT is not an outside organization or third-party; it is OUR union, so we must each do our part to keep it strong and effective.


Though we come together in our union to achieve common goals, the union means different things to every member. Here’s why some of your colleagues are proud to say “I am IFT.”

Crystal Russell

Teacher Century Junior/Senior School CUSD #100, Ullin Century Federation of Teachers, Local 6539

“The union provides me with a tremendous knowledge base that I can draw from and wouldn’t have access to otherwise. I can focus on the many facets of my job, instead of labor laws and code.”


FACTS 1 On average, union members earn 27 percent more than their non-union counterparts.

2 More than 79 percent of union members have jobs that provide health insurance benefits - fewer than half of non-union workers do. 3 IFT contracts are often multi-year agreements that include job protection provisions like defined grievance procedures. 4 Non-union employees are “at-will” workers, with no job protections; they can be fired at any time for any reason. Most union workers cannot be fired without “just cause” and are entitled to due process.

Donna Rehm

School Nurse Highpoint Elementary School, Orland Park Southwest Suburban Teachers Union, Local 943

“School nurses have a voice because of the union. IFT and AFT are at the forefront on school health issues. They know and promote the fact that healthy students learn better.”

Kim Haywood

Utility Maintenance Foreman District 189, East St. Louis General Service Employees Union, Local 382

“The IFT gives us strength in numbers to not only bargain fair contracts, but to stand up for our interests in Springfield. Our union is our advocate.” U N I O N L I N K | SP RI N G 2015


Keep Your Eye on ESEA As things have been heating up in Springfield over the last several months, a critical education discussion has been taking place in Washington, D.C., that you may have missed. In February, the U.S. House of Representatives debated the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, H.R. 5). The original law was intended to ensure that all children—regardless of their background, ZIP code, disability, or family income—have equal access to a highquality education. The IFT and AFT oppose H.R. 5 because it would do the opposite and actually worsen funding inequity across the country, particularly here in Illinois. According to the White House, under H.R. 5 Chicago Public Schools (CPS),



where more than 30 percent of students are below the poverty level, would lose more than $64 million in Title I funding – a 23% cut in federal education dollars. East St. Louis District 189, where 56% of students live in poverty, would lose $2 million in funding (a 26% cut). Similarly, Rockford stands to lose 8%, Decatur faces a reduction of 11%, and Cahokia – where the poverty rate is nearly 50% –­ would lose 14% of their federal funding. An earlier version of H.R. 5 also sought to remove the qualification requirements for paraprofessionals working in highpoverty schools. But in a critical victory in late February, Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-5) offered an amendment to restore those protections and ensure that school districts must continue to employ paras with education experience and to provide them with adequate training to serve in high-poverty schools.

“Congress has been given the chance to pass an education bill that would invest in education,” said Rep. Quigley on the House floor. “Instead, Republicans offered a plan that takes from poor kids and gives to rich schools. Our teachers and students deserve better.” Quigley’s amendment passed with bipartisan support and will be part of the final bill when it moves to the Senate. At press time, further consideration of H.R. 5 was postponed but is likely to resurface during this session. In the meantime, keep watching the IFT and AFT websites for updates about this critical legislation and what you can do to help.

ReadMore Read more about the purpose of ESEA from AFT President Randi Weingarten at aft.org/blog/randi/real-purpose-esea.

Why do you


Celebrities #ThankATeacher “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” - Tom Brokaw

“Here’s what I know...I would not be standing here if it weren’t for one very important man in my life... Mr. Rawley Farnsworth, who was my high school drama teacher, who taught me ‘Act well the part, there all the glory lies’.” - Tom Hanks

“I had incredible teachers. And as I look at my life today, the things I value most about myself — my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity — all of these things came from how I was parented and taught.” Most people appreciate teachers and staff every day of the year, but National Teacher Appreciation Week from May 4-8 is a time for everyone to make a special effort to honor the work teachers do to educate kids and improve their futures. If you’re a teacher or classroom PSRP, you know what that work involves. From buying school supplies with your own money, to coming in early and staying late to help students, to volunteering for after-school events, to grading mountains of papers and creating lesson plans late at night and on weekends, you do it all for the sake of educating kids. It’s one of the toughest jobs in the world. So why did you become a teacher? Was there a favorite educator in your past who inspired you or made a real difference in your life? During National Teacher Appreciation Week from May 4-8, share your story with us on social media and encourage others to #ThankATeacher.

- Matt Damon

“There is no profession more essential than that of an educator, and it’s time for all of us to embrace and celebrate their importance and contributions to America’s children.” - Queen Latifah

ShowLove Add the #ThankATeacher hashtag to all your social media posts during National Teacher Appreciation Week: May 4-8.

U N I O N L I N K | SP RI N G 2015


Read “I am IFT” in every issue of Union Link to learn how your fellow members are Powering Forward. “The learning opportunities and support provided by the program will help us to better prioritize and focus our efforts as we work toward our goal of establishing a strong partnership with a non-profit community organization that serves our students and families in need,” said Mannen. “We know that having strong relationships in our community benefits us all.”

A new group of IFT local and council leaders met in Westmont recently to kick off the second year of AFT’s LEAD project.


IFT LEADers Set Their Sights on Strengthening the Union After a successful first year of the AFT Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program in 2014, a new group of IFT leaders is forging ahead and taking the LEAD to grow our union in 2015. Diverse local and council teams from across Illinois met in Westmont in February to kick off this year’s program. Participants include: Belleville Federation of Teachers, Local 434; East St. Louis Federation of Teachers, Local 1220; Wilmette Council of the North Suburban Teachers Union, Local 1274; Champaign Federation of Teachers, Local 1925; and Norwood Federation of Teachers and Paraprofessionals, Local 4341. “We are very excited about the opportunity to participate in the LEAD program this year,” said Local 1925 President Cathy Mannen. “As a local, we are mo1 0 U NIO N LINK | SPRING 2015

tivated to look for ways to strengthen our local internally and engage members in diverse ways that capitalize on members’ strengths, passions, and interests.” Those are exactly the things AFT LEAD is designed to do. By helping unionists increase their abilities to use strategic approaches to problem solving, participants work to put systems in place to address their challenges by focusing on their goals and our union’s vision. Illinois is one of several states participating in the program this year.

IFT local and council leaders will receive support and resources from IFT and AFT as they work towards their goals, and the LEAD teams will meet again this summer and fall to check-in on progress and plan next steps. “We gained valuable experience and information working with our great IFT LEAD teams in the first year,” said Kathy Shaevel, Union Professional Issues Director and Illinois’ LEAD Coordinator. “We’re excited to enter round two of the program knowing that those lessons are already benefitting our new LEAD teams and will help them achieve successful outcomes that make our union stronger.”

At the initial session, IFT teams met to determine their greatest challenges, set goals, and develop 12-18 month campaigns to accomplish them. With help from LEAD, Local 1925 plans to increase its community outreach over the next year.

LearnMore To learn more about the IFT LEAD program email IFT UPID Director and Illinois’ LEAD Coordinator Kathy Shaevel at kshaevel@ift-aft.org.

i am IFT}


Happy Anniversary to IFT Locals and Councils! The IFT is made up of more than 200 local unions and councils that are the source of our collective strength across the state. In 2015, the IFT wants to recognize and honor the following local unions and councils for their long term dedication and commitment to the labor movement and the memebers we serve. The following locals and councils are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year:

80 YEARS Belleville Federation of Teachers, Local 434

50 YEARS Cook County College Teachers Union, Local 1600

40 YEARS East Alton/Wood River Federation of Teachers, Local 3401 t

Top left: Kim Haywood (center), President of the East St. Louis General Service Employees, Local 382, pictured with his son, Kim Haywood, Jr., President of the Brooklyn Federation of Teachers, Local 3530, and IFT President Dan Montgomery. Top right: During the Mobilizing for Legislative Action workshop, leaders worked in regional groups with IFT legislative staffers to drill down key issues in their regions. Bottom: Back by popular demand after an unforgettable speech at the 2013 IFT Convention, journalist John Nichols wowed the crowd with his energy and passion for the labor movement.

IFT Presidents Come Together to Build Union Power Nearly 200 presidents of IFT local unions and councils from around the state gathered at the 2015 IFT Presidents’ Conference in March to learn successful techniques to engage and mobilize members. Over the course of a weekend, the dedicated elected leaders participated in a “bootcamp” of workshops on union engagement, visionary leadership, member activism, mobilizing for legislative action, and strategic communication. The intensive training – combined with inspiring remarks from keynote speaker John Nichols – left the leaders educated, energized, and prepared to move their locals and councils forward as we all work to protect our rights and advocate for the kids and citizens we serve.

25 YEARS Central Teachers Association, Local 4673 Illinois Federation of State Comptrollers, Local 4717 Mendon Unit #4 Teachers Association, Local 4708

10 YEARS Adjunct Faculty Union of SWIC, Local 6270 Triopia Federation of Teachers, Local 6281 Perandoe Special Education Council, Local 6307

SpeakUp Have a milestone coming up? Contact communications@ift-aft.org.

U N I O N L I N K | SP RI N G 2015 11





Illinois Federation of Teachers P.O. Box 390 Westmont, IL 60559



Permit no. 40 OAK BROOK, IL


AFT PUBLIC EMPLOYEES NATIONAL CONFERENCE May 28-30 Hyatt Regency, Denver GREAT LAKES ULI June 22-26 Lake Lawn Resort, Delavan, Wisconsin

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Union Link - Spring 2015  

The 2015 Spring edition of the IFT newsletter, Union Link.

Union Link - Spring 2015  

The 2015 Spring edition of the IFT newsletter, Union Link.

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