As I write this during the holiday season, I look back on an incredible year for the IFT and our union movement.
We successfully navigated the most anti-union onslaught in the last 50 years: Bruce Rauner’s Janus-based attack on public unions. You stood united to defend your local - and our state and national unions - because you understand their importance in your life. You know that your ability to be paid a good wage, earn reasonable benefits, and secure a decent work environment where we can provide excellent schools, colleges, universities, and public services are in dire risk when those who seek to weaken us succeed. So, you remained strong in the union. Be forewarned though: the Koch Brothers and others like them will keep pouring millions into getting you to make their lives easier. The more solid we are, the harder it will be for the rich to get richer while the rest of us get the short end of the stick.
In addition to that fight, we also prevailed mightily in the statewide election effort. Electing JB and Juliana is a life-changing event for us. We can now begin to rebuild Illinois, which is in the worst fiscal shape of any state in the country. It won’t be easy. The state still has a structural deficit, meaning there is simply not enough revenue to fund basic public services, safety, and infrastructure needs. And I cannot stress enough the dire shape our institutions of higher education are in.
We believe that the only viable path forward is a fair tax system in Illinois, whereby the most wealthy pay their fair share and those with less catch a break. 39 other states use graduated rates effectively, and we need to join them. There are a lot of details to be worked out, but be prepared to educate yourself, family, and friends on what’s at stake. It will eventually go to the polls in a referendum, and the IFT will be with you every step of the way in this historic effort.
Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll read details about local election victories, some won by simply a few votes! Don’t let anyone ever tell you again that their vote doesn’t count. We proved otherwise in this election. This crucial lesson will loom large in the 2019 city of Chicago mayoral election, and in the general election of 2020. When we vote, we win.
Lastly, I must acknowledge the members of the Graduate Employees Organization at the University of Illinois (Local 6300) and Acero charter school teachers (CTU, Local 1) who went on strike in 2018.
These successful strikes point to the amazing power of our raising our voices together in action. From West Virginia to Los Angeles, from Arizona to right here in Illinois, we see time and again that we can change this great land of ours for the better when we come together in solidarity, when we don’t take “no” for an answer, when we question the rules of an economy or employer that are designed to limit our power or economic prospects.
Let’s hold on dearly to these lessons as we move into 2019 with boldness, optimism, and great union resolve for a rebirth in Illinois. I wish you a wonderful year ahead.