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Normal IFT locals and staff recognized by AFL-CIO

Bloomington, IL – Last night, two central-region locals of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and an IFT field service director were recognized for their dedication to the labor movement by the Bloomington-Normal Trades and Labor Assembly, AFL-CIO.

The two locals – the Heartland Adjunct Faculty Association (HAFA, IFT Local 6077) and the newly formed United Faculty of Illinois State University (UFISU) – received this year's 2442 Labor Militancy Award. The award is given to locals who demonstrate exceptional resilience and creativity in winning working conditions and fair wages and is named for the Normal Firefighters IAFF Local 2442 whose 24 members in 1978 conducted an illegal strike and were jailed on work-release for 42 days.

In March 2023, HAFA President and philosophy professor Ashli Anda led a four-person bargaining team to a remarkable successor collective bargaining agreement garnering a 13.5% increase in wages, codifying a more equitable discipline procedure, and winning pay for mandatory trainings, which doubled compensation for workplace meetings – labor they were previously expected to do for free.

Anda said, “It’s really special for HAFA to receive the 2442 Labor Militancy Award because our union has worked hard to survive and grow. I feel personally honored to be president of this union, and this award is proof that the dedication of our members is palpable and effective.”

The HAFA bargaining team composed of Anda, and Heartland adjunct faculty members VP Jean Marie Taylor, Ryan Edel, and George Mueller masterfully launched a contract campaign and table strategy that also galvanized member solidarity and grew the union while engaging campus allies. Their members-out-front strategy was highly effective and should be considered a model for how to win major economic gains in the workplace when workers are told “no” and “we can’t afford it” year after year. The bargaining team held the line for a strong tentative agreement and 100% of members voted to ratify. They won these gains because they value their own labor, and they brought their membership with them.

Faculty at Illinois State University filed for union authorization with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board in early October with an “unstoppable majority,” thanks to their efforts conducting more than a thousand member-to-member conversations over the last two years. UFISU will be an affiliate chapter of the statewide University Professionals of Illinois (IFT Local 4100), the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors. Members cited low and unequal compensation and working conditions as well as lack of student supports as motivating factors for joining their union.

From UFISU bargaining team member Julien Corven: “Local 2442 is an inspiration to us all in the labor movement. I feel honored and humbled that UFISU was deemed worthy of carrying on their legacy, and we will strive to do so. I am grateful to the Bloomington-Normal Trades and Labor Assembly and all its locals for their continued support and solidarity as we work to win our first contract.”

UFISU will issue the demand to bargain with the employer as soon as they are recognized.

IFT Field Service Director Adam Heenan is being recognized with the 2023 Ronn Morehead Service to Labor Award. “I’m deeply honored for the nomination by IFT members and the recognition by all the delegates for this award. I’m quite proud of the ways in which I am able to do my job to support rank-and-file members to win the working condition we deserve, and grateful to the broader Bloomington-Normal labor community for being equally supportive of organizing educators and support staff.”

“IFT Staff are ‘guides on the side, not the sage on the stage’; we support and advise, but the members make all the decisions. I think it’s a model for organizing and negotiating that comes from the rank-and-file, and it has served our members well.” Heenan taught high school social studies before joining IFT on staff.

Heenan currently serves as Assembly delegate and representative to his staff union, Illinois Organizers Union-Chicago News Guild CWA Local 34071, and previously served as the Bloomington Normal Trades and Labor Assembly President from 2020-2022, elected after Ronn Morehead’s passing.

Also awarded this year was longtime labor leader John Penn from LiUNA for his years of service.

Photos from left: Members of UFISU and their families march in the 2023 Bloomington-Labor Day Parade (Photo Credit: Mike Matejka); Members of HAFA Local 6077 address the Heartland Community College Board of Trustees on May 16, 2023. (Photo Credit: Mateusz Janik, Pantagraph, Lee Publications); Pictured: L-R Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe, IAMAM Local 1000 Organizer Osmel Toledo, and Adam Heenan at the Bloomington Pride Fest, August 2022. (Photo Credit: Mike Matejka)

The Bloomington-Normal Trades and Labor Assembly is the Central Labor Council for IL Region 1 covering 4,000 union members across McLean, Livingston, DeWitt, and Logan counties.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.


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