Politics and Power Top the Agenda at 2012 IFT PSRP/Public Employees Conference

by Beth Camplain | Oct 20, 2012
PSRPs and public employees heard from inspiring speakers and attended informative workshops at the annual event held in Oak Brook Oct. 19-20
Union members from around the state gathered at the IFT PSRP/Public Employees Conference in Oak Brook from Oct. 19-20 to celebrate their successes and prepare for the challenges ahead.

About 200 IFT members who work in K-12 schools, community colleges, universities and offices attended the annual conference to hear from inspiring speakers like Ruby Newbold, president of the Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees. Newbold revved up the crowd during the conference opening General Session by reminding PSRPs and public employees that they are a powerful force when they act collectively.

“Our power comes from our solidarity,” she said. “By standing together, no matter what the challenges we face, we will prevail.”

With the 2012 election less than three weeks away, Newbold urged union members to use that power at the ballot box.

“Don’t go to sleep in November,” she warned. “Attempts to silence the voices of working people are coming fast and furious in just about every state. This election is not the time to sit back and wait for other folks to do the right thing for us. You have got to redouble your efforts to move us forward by electing those who are dedicated to workers and public service,” she insisted.  

IFT President Dan Montgomery also spoke about the importance of getting involved in the upcoming election, particularly by volunteering to help worker-friendly candidates in key swing states like Ohio and Wisconsin.

Here in Illinois, Montgomery told attendees to be keenly aware of the very first question on the ballot, which directly impacts retirement security for IFT members and all public employees. “The Constitutional Amendment on the ballot will make it painfully hard to pass any pension improvements in the future, and it would bring the kind of gridlock you see in Springfield and Washignton to the mainstreets of Illinois,”  he said. “When you vote, be sure to First, Vote No!

In addition to keynote speakers, union PSRPs and public employees attended informative workshops on both days of the event. Topics ranged from Common Core State Standards to Forging Community Alliances to Member Engagement. Conference-goers also heard updates from representatives of the retirement systems – State Employees Retirement System (SERS), State Universities Retirement System (SURS), Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) and the Municipal Employees’ Annuity & Benefit Fund (MEABF) of Chicago – in which PSRPs and public employees are eligible to participate.