Election 2012, Pension Issues Addressed at IFT Higher Education Conference

by Beth Camplain | Oct 27, 2012
IFT members from universities and community colleges statewide gather in Westmont for the annual event.
Members representing higher education faculty and staff from locals and councils statewide gathered at the annual IFT Higher Education Conference in Oak Brook on October 26-27. With early voting already underway in Illinois and Election Day less than two weeks away, the need to elect candidates who will advocate for higher education, workers and their hard-earned pensions took the spotlight.

Participants heard keynote remarks from IFT President Dan Montgomery on the first night of the two-day event. He encouraged members to redouble their efforts to reelect President Obama and those statewide candidates who will advocate for education, workers and public employee pensions. Montgomery also urged everyone to "FIRST, VOTE NO!" to question on the ballot which asks voters to amend the Illinois Constitution to require a 3/5 vote to improve benefits and pensions for all public employees.

"This amendment would provide for the tyranny of the minority," he said. "You have to spread the word that this is bad policy. We should not export the gridlock of Springfield to main streets of Illinois communities."

Attacks on pensions were also addressed. The IFT leader explained the union's goals for the next session of the General Assembly, which will convene in January. "We want be to shift the focus of the pension conversation from cutting benefits to finding a fair fiscal solution that is sustainable," Montgomery said.

The IFT leader also answered questions from members about a wide variety of subjects, from the union's endorsement process to member engagement and more.

Conference business was completed at IFT headquarters in Westmont on Day 2 of the conference, with subcommittee meetings conducted to discuss the unique needs and challenges facing higher education members in various settings, including community colleges, universities and the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO).

In addition to the business meetings, IFT Legislative Director Nick Yelverton provided an update on Election 2012 and looked ahead to likely legislative challenges. "As always, the activism of our members will be the key to our effectiveness in Springfield and Washington in 2013," he said.