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FIRED UP! IFT presidents come together to build union power

3/10/2015
Nearly 200 presidents of IFT local unions and councils from around the state gathered in Springfield last weekend at the 2015 IFT Presidents’ Conference 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, and mobilizing for legislative action. The goal? To move their locals forward as we fight critical battles to protect our rights, our professions, and the best interests of the kids and citizens we serve.

The intensive training – combined with informative updates and inspiring remarks and  from keynote speaker John Nichols, IFT President Dan Montgomery, and a bevy of expert workshop leaders – left the presidents educated, prepared, and FIRED UP!


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Local and council presidents representing IFT unions of all sizes from Chicago to West Frankfort spent the weekend taking a hard look at where their unions are at, where they need to be, and how they can get there to ensure that every IFT member is empowered to not only weather the challenges we all face - but to prevail.


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IFT President Dan Montgomery and Secretary-Treasurer Marcia Campbell hosted an informal breakfast conversation at the conference to offer updates, take questions, and get feedback about the pension lawsuit, the Governor's budget proposals, and much more. "The work we're doing here this weekend is hard, but it's essential," said Montgomery. "I commend every one of you here today, because you are doing the hard work on the ground of helping to inform and energize our members."



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During the mobilizing for legislative action workshop, leaders worked in regional groups with IFT legislative staffers to drill down on key issues in their regions and to discuss the importance of developing positive relationships with legislators, school board members, and others who can help us affect positive change.



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Getting new, younger members involved is critical to growing our unions and increasing our power. Kim Haywood (center), President of the East St. Louis General Service Employees, Local 382, has taken that responsibility personally. He's pictured here with his son, Kim Haywood, Jr., President of the Brooklyn Federation of Teachers, Local 3530, and IFT President Dan Montgomery.
We salute these two generations of proud IFT leaders!


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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. "We're in a monumental struggle right now," he said. "But if we give all the power to the wealthiest and let them define our politics, we'll be taken back to the days when women, and people of color, and the poor, and anyone who wasn't a white male landowner, had no voice in our Democracy. Here in Illinois, you must draw the line and say, 'Not one step back. Not one step back from our rights. Not one step back from Democracy.' "



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