governance

The IFT is governed by a triennial convention at which all federation members are represented by elected delegates of our unions. Convention delegates set broad policies and goals for the union movement and every three years elect the IFT officers—the President, Executive Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and Vice Presidents. These officers make up the IFT Executive Board, which debates and passes resolutions defining the union’s position on many issues.

2019 RESOLUTIONS

Resolution No. 1: Advocate for Passage of a Fair Tax in Illinois


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board

WHEREAS, the Illinois Constitution requires a flat tax on income that is regressive and unfair. Under this flat tax, middle- and working-class families pay significantly more in taxes as a percent of their income than the wealthy. The top one percent of income earners pay just 7.4 percent of their income in state and local taxes while lower income earners pay 14.4 percent, more than any other state in the Midwest; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois requirement for a flat tax is an outlier. Thirty-three other states and the federal government all rely on a fair tax. Unlike the flat tax which requires all earners to pay the same rate regardless of their ability to pay, a fair tax would apply higher rates to those who earn more and lower rates to those who earn less; and WHEREAS, the Illinois flat tax system results in a structural deficit that does not generate enough revenue to pay the bills, let alone invest in the “future we all deserve.” For example, the state has a $3.2 billion budget deficit for fiscal year 2020 and more than $6 billion in unpaid bills; and WHEREAS, Illinois needs a fair tax to fund kindergarten through 12 schools through the Evidence-Based Model (EBM). The EBM establishes a funding adequacy target for each school district and funnels dollars to districts in the greatest need. Without additional revenue, the state will not have the money needed to fund the EBM and provide resources for students who need them most. Currently, 83.6 percent of school districts have fewer resources than needed to educate the students they serve; and WHEREAS, Illinois needs a fair tax to fund higher education. For over 20 years, the state has failed to properly invest in its public colleges and universities. The recent budget impasse devastated public higher education; the first year of the impasse, funding for higher education was cut 68 percent. State funding for public higher education is down 52 percent since the year 2000; and WHEREAS, Illinois needs a fair tax to fund state government, human services and public safety. State government has been hollowed out under previous administrations, and state agencies don’t have enough staff to provide important services. Illinois has the fewest number of state employees per capita of any state in the nation; and WHEREAS, Illinois needs a fair tax to fund public employee pensions. After decades of not making the fully required pension payment, Illinois has a pension debt of over $133 billion. The cost of the payment is growing nine percent annually, and the state needs additional revenue to pay down this debt; and WHEREAS, a fair tax would address issues of tax fairness while also providing fiscal stability. The fair tax would generate $3.4 billion in new state revenue and give tax relief to 97 percent of taxpayers; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) strongly supports amending the Illinois Constitution to allow for a fair tax; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will educate locals, leaders, activists and members on the benefits of a fair tax; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will engage in a robust voter education program to win support for Fair Tax leading up to the November 3, 2020, election; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals through the engagement of their membership to mobilize in support of a fair tax through a voter education program.




Resolution No. 2: Affirming the Role of Illinois Federation of Teachers, Educators and Public Servants in Addressing Habitat Loss, Plant and Animal Extinction and the Protection of Public and Clean Water, Air and Natural Resources


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, a comprehensive report by the United Nations Committee on Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (ISPBES) was published in May 2019; and
WHEREAS, the report concluded that 1.5 million flora and fauna are heading for extinction in coming decades; and WHEREAS, the world’s greatest treasures are its people, cultures, plant and animal life, in all their diversity and richness; and WHEREAS, human survival on Earth requires clean air, untainted water, healthy seas and oceans, and abundant plant and animal life, including bees to pollinate plants which produce fruits and vegetables; and WHEREAS, conditions leading to world-wide habitat loss and species dying off are changing Illinois’ climate, as throughout the world; these changes can be seen in unpredictable weather, uncharacteristic storms and relentless flooding that create safety hazards and threats to farmers’ livelihood; and WHEREAS, the Midwest expects increasing temperatures for years to come, with Illinois farmers facing warmer, wetter and more humid conditions, as well as increasing pest populations, crop diseases, a shorter growing season and a diminishment of stored grain; and WHEREAS, human economic activity and consumerism drive the depletion of the Earth’s naturally clean air and water, habitat loss for animals and plants, increasing temperatures which are melting glaciers and the arctic ice caps; and WHEREAS, coming human generations cannot survive without a healthy planet; and WHEREAS, the world’s greatest scientists report that a two degree increase in temperature will have catastrophic impacts; and WHEREAS, scientists believe it is still possible to limit increasing temperatures by making significant shifts in human activity; and WHEREAS, powerful economic interests have demonstrated willingness to deny the existence of climate change, to continue to despoil habitats and foul water and air resources; and WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, educators and public servants are respected leaders in their communities and Illinois society; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), as advocates for essential public resources, including state and local government services, pre- kindergarten through 12 schools and higher education, will support addressing long-term solutions to the environmental challenges the state and planet face; and be it further RESOLVED, long-term solutions will include fact-based science curriculum to be taught and supported in schools, including Earth Science in grades kindergarten through five, a commitment to the teaching and learning of science vocabulary, support for agricultural programs and for Illinois students to participate in hands-on, farm-centered learning; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for Regional Offices of Education and districts to allocate resources to hire and support Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics coaches in kindergarten through 12 schools; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will participate in and encourage a public discussion around the environmental challenges Illinois and the world face; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will urge members to prepare students for advocacy around environmental policies that will minimize habitat loss, save flora and fauna, reserve Earth’s resources for future generations, and reverse increases in global temperature; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage members to connect students with groups facing the climate crisis head on by researching and exploring partnerships with neighboring colleges and universities, environmental and sustainability groups, community groups and parks groups; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will support the inclusion and development of green technology in Career Technology Education education, so current and future students may both work in and contribute to a growing, sustainable green economy; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will support and advocate for economic policies that consider the long-term health and well-being of the planet and Illinois, protecting plant and animal habitats, as well as public water and clean air resources; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT urges its members to promote these concerns and help resolve these issues in their home communities among educators, parents, school boards and students in appropriate public forums.




Resolution No. 3: Trauma, Restorative Justice Safety and Justice in the Classroom


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, Public Act 99-456 (Senate Bill 100) ended zero tolerance discipline policies which fail to address the trauma students face, fuel the school-to-prison pipeline and disproportionately impact students of color; and
WHEREAS, Public Act 100-0014 (House Bill 3869) mandates that all school boards require in-service training for school personnel to develop cultural competency in order to mitigate the impacts of educator implicit bias which negatively impacts student performance and results in gender and racial disparities in school discipline; and WHEREAS, ineffective implementation of school discipline contributes to unsafe teaching and learning environments and is a leading factor in teachers’ decisions to leave the profession resulting in a statewide teacher shortage; and WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that promotes and provides professional development opportunities to help members improve their teaching practice and become career educators; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will encourage locals to participate in union-developed trainings and workshops designed to promote educational justice and equity in the teaching profession; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will urge locals to educate district administrators and school board members on the state’s requirement for implicit bias training; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to work collaboratively with district administrators and school board members to provide union-sponsored training on trauma, implicit bias, cultural competence and restorative justice for all school staff in order to effectively implement Senate Bill 100 and House Bill 3869 and foster safe and healthy school environments; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for state funding for smaller class sizes, mental health and wraparound supports, and professional development to mitigate the impacts of trauma on students and communities.




Resolution No. 4: Bilingual Education


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board

WHEREAS, almost one in every ten public school students is learning to speak English and Illinois’ bilingual student population has grown two percent in the past four years; and
WHEREAS, Illinois public schools serve students speaking over 110 different languages; and WHEREAS, being literate and fluent in multiple languages is invaluable and should be encouraged, rather than suppressed; and WHEREAS, students whose native language is not English often come to school with vast knowledge in multiple languages; however, too many public school systems devalue these strengths when students enroll in their school; and WHEREAS, the current system of bilingual education intentionally or unintentionally seeks to Anglicize or whitewash students’ identity by undermining their home language and culture by prioritizing the English language at any cost as evidenced by quick transitions out of transitional bilingual programs and high-stakes testing in English; and WHEREAS, students who have a native language other than English experience high levels of stress and anxiety from being required to take high-stakes standardized tests that are in English; and WHEREAS, the language of instruction for English Language (EL) learners does not match the language of testing; and WHEREAS, taking standardized tests in English particularly harms EL learners who are not receiving the native language instruction to which they are entitled; and WHEREAS, across the state, EL learners are not receiving the appropriate language services and supports, and parents and teachers are often unaware to what services students are entitled; and WHEREAS, teachers who work with EL students have a disproportionate paperwork burden as compared to non-EL teachers, which results in lost learning time for students; and WHEREAS, teachers are required to monitor former EL students throughout their kindergarten through 12 career, thereby creating an additional layer of record keeping and paperwork for teachers without additional resources, support or process for doing so; and WHEREAS, students who are both bilingual and have a specific learning disability often have their language support sacrificed for special education support; and WHEREAS, students who are both bilingual and have a specific learning disability are both over diagnosed and underdiagnosed because of their native language; and WHEREAS, dual-language teachers have an undue burden to create curricular materials because there is a significant deficit of appropriate materials in native languages available; and WHEREAS, educators and staff who teach bilingual, dual-language and EL students require support, such as translation during meetings, translation of documents, technology supports for translating, appropriate and meaningful professional development, additional planning time, paperwork reduction, access to appropriate curricular materials and union provided training including but not limited to the American Federation of Teachers’ English Language Learners 101; and WHEREAS, over half of Illinois’ unfilled teaching positions are in bilingual and special education, meaning EL and special education students and bilingual special education students are less likely to have the support they need; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will advocate for policies that prioritize instruction where both English and students’ native languages are valued and taught across pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, thereby fortifying students’ skills in the language spoken at home, culture and history for the purpose of achieving biliteracy; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will lobby for adequate, equitable and sustainable funding for English Language (EL) services, resources, supports for teachers, students and their families; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for policies that improve bilingual education and eliminate standardized testing requirements for newcomer students who are ELs; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will introduce legislation requiring the Illinois State Board of Education to study the testing, paperwork and monitoring requirements of EL and former EL students and make recommendations to ease the burden on teachers; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for establishing competencies, criteria and standards for bilingual language interpreters who attend Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings and other meetings about their students or with school staff and assist parents with limited English proficiency and require translation services for parents during IEP meetings; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for pathways for bilingual teachers who speak languages other than English to earn their teaching licenses; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for policies that require teacher preparation programs for educators who are working toward their bilingual endorsement to include courses on how to teach students to read in their native languages and the specialized content language and vocabulary in other native languages needed to teach content in students’ native languages; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to work with their districts to provide IEPs in students’ native language so that the IEPs are accessible to parents; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to work with their districts to provide training to special education, bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL) specialists, teachers and case managers in completing the portions of IEPs that pertain to the language and cultural considerations for ELs so that they truly reflect and address the strengths, needs and areas of growth of students who are EL and have a specific learning disability; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals and members to seek out professional development opportunities for increasing cultural competence, teaching culturally relevant curriculum and building professional capacity around instruction for ELs; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will work to develop collective bargaining resources to help locals bargain additional benefits and supports for educators and staff who teach and support bilingual, dual-language and EL students; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to work with their districts to recruit, retain, coach and support bilingual, dual-language and EL teachers; and be it finally RESOLVED, IFT will encourage large bilingual programs to transition into dual language programs and push districts to fund the training, program development and professional development necessary for needed aforementioned transition.




Resolution No. 5: Dual Credit


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, dual credit provides a valuable path for students to jump-start a college career and receive college credit in advance of attending a university or community college; and
WHEREAS, competency-based education programs offered in secondary schools rely heavily on dual credit as a means of student academic advancement; and WHEREAS, it is essential that the quality of these classes should be maintained by ensuring that the curriculum, instruction, academic, library resources and technological support meet higher education institutions’ standards and provide students with an adequate opportunity for success in a higher education context; and WHEREAS, the State of Illinois should provide the resources necessary to allow all students to pursue a college education; and WHEREAS, the State of Illinois should ensure that the price of a college education is affordable for all families and does not force families to compromise the social and instructional experience of students; and WHEREAS, systemic and persistent underfunding of higher education has led to diluting the academic integrity of college classes in a dual credit environment; and WHEREAS, the current dual credit system incentivizes inequitable teaching assignments for both high school and higher education institutions’ full-time and part-time faculty; and WHEREAS, collaboration among high school dual credit instructors, faculty from higher education institutions and education administrators’ benefits students that participate in these classes; and WHEREAS, establishing these dual credit opportunities should be spearheaded by faculty from higher education and high school; and WHEREAS, regardless of who teaches a dual credit course or where it is taught, academic freedom should be consistent with standards used in institutions of higher education; and WHEREAS, admission into dual credit classes should include the student meeting academic requirements of the local higher education institution; and WHEREAS, high school students should be paired with counselors and librarians from the partnering higher education institution to ensure that the dual credit curriculum is appropriate and students are prepared to meet educational goals; and WHEREAS, all students should have the opportunity to utilize dual credit regardless of location, socioeconomic status, race, gender or sexual orientation; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will support policies which require dual credit instructors, regardless of setting, to hold at least the minimum qualifications required by the local higher education institution to teach the course; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage local districts and higher education institutions to set standards for high school students enrolling in dual credit courses to have the minimum required academic qualifications of the local higher education institution, including meeting minimum requirements for Grade Point Average, algebra and basic English placement processes; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to work with the school district and higher education institutions to ensure that course length and academic integrity are aligned for students taking the course regardless of whether the course is taught at the high school or at the higher education institution; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will support policies that afford faculty members and students academic freedoms in both the higher education and high school settings; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT encourages locals to establish formal collaborative structures between the higher education institution and local school district, led by the high school and higher education faculty instructors who are teaching dual credit courses; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will support policies that recognize the need for students to have a collegiate experience and place an emphasis on students’ academic and social development that can only result by taking part in course work that is provided at or by an institution of higher education; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for dual credit being a supplement to secondary education and transition fully into collegiate higher education; dual credit should not be a replacement for regular high school courses and/or higher education; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to establish systems which ensure high school students are paired with higher education counselors as part of the dual credit course experience; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will continue to advocate for dual credit opportunities to be made available to all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, while also advocating for fully funded and resourced pre-kindergarten through 12 schools and institutes of higher education.




Resolution No. 6: Teacher Shortage


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board

WHEREAS, the inability to fill and retain professional educator and educational personnel positions is not a new problem, but it has become larger in recent years; and
WHEREAS, systematic disinvestment has arisen from historical and systemic racism, which has led to inequities and challenges for the neediest students and communities; and WHEREAS, other developed nations spend significantly more on education, healthcare and human services to ensure that public schools are adequately resourced; and WHEREAS, state level “school reforms,” misguided federal grant programs and No Child Left Behind brought an overemphasis on standardized testing, biased teacher evaluation systems, ranking and sorting of teachers based on evaluation ratings, ballooning class sizes, loss of professional autonomy and reduced funding for professional development; and WHEREAS, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has created barriers for teachers being active participants in educational policy recommendations by holding meetings during the school day when teachers are working with students; and WHEREAS, high stress and lack of emotional and physical space for students and staff to be mindful and practice self-care exacerbates the educator shortage; and WHEREAS, a key component of alleviating the teacher shortage is ensuring that every school has the resources necessary to meet the diverse educational needs of the whole child, including financial resources, wraparound services, social and academic supports and resources, smaller class sizes, a broad and rich curriculum and a diverse workforce; and WHEREAS, communities with fewer local resources require more state resources in order to achieve equitable educational opportunities for students; and WHEREAS, the ISBE and General Assembly have focused their solutions for alleviating the teacher shortage on remedies to symptoms rather than addressing the root causes; and WHEREAS, in order to expand the teaching workforce, Illinois must create the systemic changes necessary to attract, retain and value a diverse teacher workforce so that our most vulnerable students in rural, high-minority and high-poverty communities do not bear the brunt of the instability and missed educational opportunities resulting from the teacher shortage; and WHEREAS, when attracting educators to the teaching profession, diversity is paramount. Candidates of different racial, gender, age, sexual orientation and work/life experience allow school communities to reflect society as a whole; and WHEREAS, an opportunity exists to fill teaching gaps by supporting paraprofessionals and second career candidates through high quality pathways to teacher licensure such as Grow Your Own; and WHEREAS, union-led high-quality induction and mentoring programs are an effective way to support and retain early career teachers after they have been hired; and WHEREAS, union-led induction and mentoring programs allow interaction and professional learning and growth for both the mentor and the mentee; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will advocate for policies that address underlying causes that contribute to teachers leaving the profession, including a lack of administrative support, loss of creativity and autonomy, over-reliance on testing and data, and instability of retirement systems, including Tier II pensions; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate to restore funding for induction and mentoring programs and encourage locals to work with districts to develop local induction and mentoring programs based on need and context; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will continue to advocate for state policy meetings to be held at times teachers can participate and provide state financial support for travel and substitute teachers; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will seek opportunities for members to become more deeply involved in policy making decisions related to teacher shortage; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT and local unions are encouraged to work with district administrators to understand stress and the impact it has on students, staff and administration and reduce it in the workplace; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will work with locals who seek school-wide training for all staff, such as the IFT’s Union Response to Students’ Stress and Trauma, in order to more effectively build relationships and support students and families; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to work with districts to create spaces within school buildings that provide students and staff the opportunity to de-stress and lessen anxiety through self-care practices; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will work with locals who seek training, such as IFT’s Induction and Mentoring training, to provide a framework for developing a local induction and mentoring program with highly trained mentors; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT and its locals will work within communities to elevate the teaching profession; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will foster and support the development of legislative advocates to address teacher shortage issues; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT and locals are encouraged to advocate for policies, programs and funding such as affordable higher education, loan forgiveness, appropriate Monetary Award Program funding, programs to recruit second career candidates and Grow Your Own Teachers as tools to reduce the teacher shortage; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will provide this resolution to the State Superintendent, the chair of Illinois State Board of Education, the leadership of both parties in the General Assembly, the chairs of education committees in both the Illinois House and Senate and the Governor.




Resolution No. 7: Grow Your Own Teachers


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board

WHEREAS, the Illinois Grow Your Own (GYO) teacher initiative is a partnership between colleges of education, public schools, community colleges and community-based organizations to recruit and develop a diverse pipeline of teachers of color from the community in which they will one day teach; and
WHEREAS, the percentage of students of color in Illinois increased from 46 percent to 52 percent over the last ten years, while during that same time period, the number of black and brown educators decreased by almost three percent; and WHEREAS, the focus of Illinois GYO, according to the Illinois Grow Your Own Teacher Education Act, is to (1) prepare highly effective teachers to serve their communities with the cultural and linguistic competencies to do so; (2) address longstanding inequities in education by renewing schools, communities and postsecondary education; and (3) develop a statewide pipeline that supports teacher education candidates from recruitment through teacher preparation at the baccalaureate level and to professional induction into a community that will benefit; and WHEREAS, passage of Public Act 101-122 indicates legislative support for a more efficient administration of state GYO funding and a commitment to expand the pool of eligible candidates in order to address the teacher shortage, especially the need for additional teachers of color; and WHEREAS, the Illinois GYO initiative began in Chicago’s Logan Square Neighborhood Association through a Department of Education grant and then evolved through legislation passed in 2004 into a statewide initiative that served teacher education candidates in 16 high-need communities in the state, including eight in Chicago and one each in southernmost Illinois, Alton, East St. Louis, Peoria, Quad Cities, Rockford, Springfield and the South Suburbs; and WHEREAS, the budget impasse beginning in 2015 led to the shuttering of a number of GYO programs. Fortunately, work has already started to rebuild and expand the GYO pipeline. Today, Chicago and Peoria both support GYO programs that serve almost 75 teacher candidates; and WHEREAS, the Illinois GYO initiative recruits diverse candidates and provides teachers who act as role models for minority children and those with few resources and benefits all children by exposing them to teachers of other races to dispel negative stereotypes; and WHEREAS, the Illinois GYO initiative provides communities, especially low-income urban and rural communities, with high-quality educators who will continue their education and are invested in their communities; and WHEREAS, disparities exist between the number of Caucasian teachers and teachers of color in Illinois, and Illinois GYO has a proven record of recruitment and retention of teachers of color in hard-to-staff schools; and WHEREAS, Illinois GYO provides needed academic, social and financial supports for teacher candidates and supports non-traditional students who have been out of school for many years; and WHEREAS, the impact of the teacher shortage is evident, and efforts should be made to expand Illinois GYO across the state, especially in rural communities that lack diverse educators; and WHEREAS, paraprofessionals are well positioned to be successful candidates of GYO and can utilize GYO as a pathway to teacher licensure; and WHEREAS, the Illinois GYO program supports teaching as a profession and as a passion, not a short term “back up plan”; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will advocate for policies to increase the number of highly effective teachers of color with cultural and linguistic competencies; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will continue to work collaboratively with state policy makers, community partners and the school districts to further support and expand access to the Grow Your Own (GYO) teacher initiative; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will continue to advocate for the necessary resources and funding for the GYO initiative to create a pipeline of highly effective teachers of color; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will work to provide professional development support to GYO candidates when possible, including providing meeting space needs, professional practice learning opportunities and union training on topics such as teacher activism, union activism and using collective voice; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to bargain stipends and professional development support for mentors of GYO candidates; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to identify potential GYO candidates and will actively work with GYO Illinois and locals to establish cohorts throughout the state, including paraprofessionals and people of color, who are dedicated to their communities and schools.




Resolution No. 8: Support, Respect and Dignity for Paraprofessional and School Related Personnel


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, nearly 20 percent of the nearly 82,000 members represented by the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) are classified as Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel (PSRPs); and
WHEREAS, many highly effective, dedicated leaders come from the PSRP ranks and make contributions to the union at the local and state levels in organizing, political action and professional issues development; and WHEREAS, through the leadership, actions and dedication of these skilled PSRP leaders and the active participation of the rank-and-file PSRPs, the IFT has developed a proud reputation for offering effective programs and resources for school and college support staff; and WHEREAS, the leadership and activism of PSRPs has put the IFT at the forefront when it comes to developing strategies, programs and resources to effectively address issues that affect these members, including opposing privatization, advocating for living wage, responding to students’ stress and trauma and addressing concerns over lack of quality professional development opportunities; and WHEREAS, PSRPs have time and again taken on important fights for dignity and respect, despite the fact that this constituency of IFT members is often more vulnerable to attempted retaliation from management and their risk of being active in the union is higher than for other IFT members due to the fact that PSRPs have some of the lowest-paid positions with some of the least job security and pay proportionately higher dues; and WHEREAS, the IFT has a long track record of support and recognition of PSRPs’ contributions to pre-kindergarten through 12 and colleges; and WHEREAS, the IFT, in past conventions, has developed a record of bringing forward and passing resolutions in active support of the important work of PSRPs; and WHEREAS, the United States Secretary of Education gives national awards through Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) program to acknowledge the excellence exhibited by PSRPs; and WHEREAS, the IFT, during the spring of 2019 legislative session, developed and lobbied for the passage of Public Act 101-46, providing PSRPs with recall rights; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will take concrete steps to re-evaluate its efforts and programs to ensure continued development of Paraprofessional and School-Related Personnel (PSRP) leaders and activists; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will increase its efforts through its continued practices, policies and actions to recognize the professional status of PSRPs and the many contributions that IFT school and college support personnel make daily in their union and in their workplace; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will continue to encourage discussion and debate on ways to prevent divisiveness among the ranks and encourage dignity and respect for PSRP members and all IFT members; and be it further RESOLVED, these conversations will support the development of appropriate programs, such as the union-sponsored “Work Shouldn’t Hurt” training and strategies to keep school and college support staff priorities front and center in the IFT; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will model the American Federation of Teachers’ successful effort to mobilize PSRP members in support of paraprofessional standards in the Every Student Succeeds Act.




Resolution No. 9: Work Shouldn't Hurt: Safe Schools for All


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, special education teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, secretaries and all school staff operate at a heightened level of vigilance to guarantee student safety; and WHEREAS, school staff is required to intervene in situations where students and staff may be at risk of harm or injury from a student’s uncontrolled behavior; and WHEREAS, the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that public school teaching assistants have a high rate of work-related injuries that result in lost work days; and WHEREAS, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found in a statewide Pennsylvania education study that special education paraprofessionals, assistants and teachers had the highest rate of work-related assaults and associated injuries; and WHEREAS, a study of 8,000 school staff workers’ compensation claims in Minnesota reported that special education assistants and teachers were at high risk of being injured and requiring medical care and workers’ compensation; and WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers reported that special education assistants were most at risk for “student-related injuries” and had the highest workers’ compensation claims rate for such injuries, compared with all other school personnel; and WHEREAS, special education staff are at risk not only for physical injuries but also for lingering and long-term post-traumatic stress disorders; and WHEREAS, school districts, colleges, universities and state agencies across the country have failed to systematically and adequately address safe working environments for school staff; and WHEREAS, Illinois school districts have a mixed record of providing protective equipment and adequate de-escalation and restraint training for at-risk personnel and assessing the placement needs of special education students; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will continue to assist locals in planning and conducting campaigns to assess the prevalence of assaults and related injuries, significantly improve district, college, university and state policies and practice, and educate members on steps to protect themselves and students as well as support injured members; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will provide training for locals to educate about the problem and advocate for appropriate professional development on preventing injuries; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will review existing law and administrative rules and propose and advocate for any necessary change to fairly compensate and protect any educational or state employee injured on the job site while actively protecting students, colleagues and other bystanders; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to bargain protections for members who are injured on-the-job; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will work with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and education organizations to identify the best evidence-based staff training programs for supporting students who are behaviorally challenged, such as the IFT’s “Union Response to Students’ Stress and Trauma”; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will request the AFT to advocate for comprehensive Occupational Safety and Health Administrative (OSHA) coverage for public employees, mandatory OSHA reporting requirements for educational employers and expanded monitoring of the prevalence of assaults on special education personnel by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and the United States Department of Education.




Resolution No. 10: Preserving Exclusive Representation


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court dealt all workers and the public sector labor movement a serious blow in its decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) prepared for an adverse ruling in Janus by reconnecting with its members, organizing new members, developing systems to recruit and maintain membership, and enlisting the support of political leaders and allies; and WHEREAS, exclusive representation means the duly chosen union is the sole voice for all workers and source of worker power. Through the process of collective bargaining and exclusive representation, IFT members earn fair wages, safe and reasonable working conditions, job security, health benefits and retirement benefits; and WHEREAS, anti-union groups have launched well-funded campaigns to persuade members to quit their union. These groups seek to silence the voice of workers as they pursue their ultimate goal: to erode and eventually eliminate exclusive representation in the public sector; and WHEREAS, the Supreme Court has ruled over many decades, including most recently in Janus, that the right of exclusive representation comes with the obligation to represent all bargaining unit members covered by our contracts fairly and without discrimination in matters that arise from the collective bargaining agreement. This obligation is known as the duty of fair representation; and WHEREAS, dividing the workforce into “us” versus “them,” even on the vital question of union membership, will inevitably erode union strength and undermine legitimacy as the exclusive representative. The IFT supports the duty of fair representation, which is important for worker solidarity, maintaining union power, and achieving collective aspirations for members and their communities. Accordingly, refusing to represent non-members and/or charging non-members fees for services can undermine exclusive representative status and power needed to realize member aspirations; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will continue to support exclusive representation and the duty of fair representation and will oppose efforts that undermine the union’s status as a democratic, member-run exclusive representative of bargaining units and will encourage its locals to do the same; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will provide information and education to members, allies and political leaders on the vital importance of maintaining exclusive representation and will encourage locals to do the same.




Resolution No. 11: 2020 Presidential Endorsement Process


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) is a union of professionals committed to bettering the lives of its members—through a voice at work and by championing economic opportunity, high-quality public education and public services; and
WHEREAS, the IFT and, more broadly, the American Federation of Teachers have a long and proud history of engaging in the political process to improve the lives of its members, their families and the communities in which they live; and WHEREAS, the IFT, through locals, provides a vehicle for working people and their communities to build collective power and to accomplish what is impossible for individuals to achieve alone for a better life and a voice at work and for a better democracy; and WHEREAS, while every election is important, the 2020 presidential election may be the most important in generations; and WHEREAS, the 2020 presidential election process provides an opportunity to elect a president who shares the IFT’s values and aspirations for the country; and WHEREAS, the IFT and its members provide an important voice in the political dialogue in Illinois and the country, a voice that is needed to shape the debate in the presidential primary process regardless of whether the IFT has officially endorsed a candidate; and WHEREAS, the IFT is committed to its members having a genuine and effective voice in this process and using the vehicle of the union as a means for that voice, a voice that states clearly: “We are members fighting powerfully for a strong union and the future we all deserve!”; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will begin a process of engaging in the 2020 elections; and be it further RESOLVED, the process will include: Listening to and engaging its members on the issues and policies that matter to them, including but not limited to issues raised in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) 2018 convention resolution titled “AFT Goals for Political Endorsements” which includes presidential candidates supporting a public investment strategy for healthcare and education infrastructure that may include the following:

  1. Universal healthcare, whether single-payer healthcare or Medicare for All
  2. Free tuition at all public colleges and universities, starting with a focus on addressing student debt for all who are now being crushed by it
  3. Universal, full-day and cost-free childcare
  4. Doubled per-pupil expenditures for low-income kindergarten through 12 districts
  5. Full public funding of public colleges and universities, including funding for wage justice for adjuncts, graduate teaching assistants and research assistants
  6. Taxation of the rich to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Title I and state allocations to public colleges and universities; and
Ensuring the endorsement process for the 2020 presidential election is transparent and involves meaningful member input and feedback, including informing and educating the members on each step of the endorsement process; When possible, ensuring direct engagement by the candidates with IFT members, as it is vital for the candidates to understand the issues facing members and their communities. This could include more than candidate questionnaires, such as candidates meeting directly with IFT members in candidate forums, Facebook Live conversations and discussions with members at the workplace or other appropriate activities; and be it further RESOLVED, with a large field of candidates for United States president, many of whom have a record of supporting member issues, the IFT will encourage locals and members to actively engage in the presidential primary process even before the IFT formally considers the endorsement of candidates; and be it further RESOLVED, because the 2020 presidential process will have many defining moments, well before most voters are ever really engaged, the IFT will take steps to educate and communicate with the members about the primary and caucus processes, including running for national convention delegate in support of a presidential candidate; and be it further RESOLVED, in the endorsement process, the IFT Executive Board may consider, after meaningful input from its membership, which candidate is best for its members, communities and country; such an assessment will include consideration of the candidates’ positions on issues, the timing and state of the race, and the candidates’ pathway to victory; and be it finally RESOLVED, because the IFT and AFT are stronger together, after the presidential primary, the IFT will encourage locals to work together in every possible way to elect the AFT’s nationally endorsed candidate in the general election, whomever it may be.




Resolution No. 12: Oppose Constitutional Changes to the Pension Protection Clause


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, the Illinois Constitution provides under Article XIII, Section 5 that “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired;” and
WHEREAS, opponents of public pensions are trying to spur a public debate and lead an effort to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to eliminate the pension protection clause that could lead to theft of earned pension benefits from teachers, university professionals and public employees; and WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers along with the We Are One coalition successfully defended this provision of the Illinois Constitution in the Harrison v. Quinn decision in 2015; and WHEREAS, teachers, university professionals and public employees have dedicated their careers serving the students and citizens of Illinois, and in many cases have settled for lower salaries in order to have a secure retirement; and WHEREAS, all members of public pension systems in Illinois depend on the benefits that have been promised to them by the Illinois Constitution as an integral part of their retirement security; and WHEREAS, the vast majority of members in state pension systems do not have access to Social Security through their public employment and their sole source of retirement income is dependent upon their public pension benefits; and WHEREAS, opponents of public pensions are using the growing unfunded liability of the state’s public pension systems to further their effort to eliminate the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution, even though the majority of the unfunded liability is the result of decades of state underfunding of the systems and not because of benefits; and WHEREAS, elimination of the pension protection clause would allow the State of Illinois to pass laws that would significantly harm thousands of working families and have a detrimental impact on schools, universities and public institutions; and WHEREAS, the State of Illinois is currently experiencing a teacher shortage and is having difficulty retaining young Illinoisans to stay and teach in Illinois classrooms; this change would further harm efforts to recruit the next generation of teachers; and WHEREAS, allowing for the reduction of benefits would do nothing to address the underlying problem of paying down the pension debt that has accumulated over decades of underfunding; and WHEREAS, the benefits provided by these retirement systems are comparable with other states that provide defined benefit pension plans and allow retirees to maintain their standard of living during retirement; and WHEREAS, those who are in favor of such a change are looking to put working families in opposition to each other by exploiting the divide between public and private employment; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will oppose all efforts to eliminate or alter the Illinois Constitutional provision that prohibits the diminishment or impairment of public employee retirement benefits; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will work with other like-minded unions and organizations to defend the pension protection clause and members’ retirement benefits; and be it finally RESOLVED, a copy of this resolution will be sent to all four legislative leaders and the Governor informing them that it is crucial to keep the promise that Illinois has made to participants and retirees of the state’s pension systems and protect these retirement benefits.




Resolution No. 13: Fund Our Future


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, well-funded public schools, colleges and universities are the foundation of vibrant, safe and healthy communities; and
WHEREAS, low income students, especially students of color, suffer from lack of sufficient resources, underfunded federal support for special education and Title I, and require more, not fewer, resources than wealthier students; and WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers has successfully publicized the lack of sufficient resources in schools due to Tax Increment Financing (TIF) programs, corporate subsidies, a regressive state tax system, through op-eds, legislative campaigning and winning TIF surpluses in Chicago and Peoria; and WHEREAS, for decades Illinois public schools have lacked sufficient and equitable funding and resources for all students to be successful. However, in 2017, passage of the Evidence-Based Model (EBM) started Illinois on a path to equity and adequacy by drastically changing the way public school funding is allocated; and WHEREAS, the EBM gives each public-school district an adequacy target based on several factors, and those districts furthest from their adequacy target are prioritized when new funding is added to the formula; and WHEREAS, the current maximum investment requirement of $350 million under the statute means the state won’t reach adequate funding until 2050 and generations of kindergarten through 12 students will continue to attend schools that are not equitably and adequately funded; and WHEREAS, schools and educators are experiencing the benefit of the almost $1 billion investment in the EBM; however, an additional $7 billion is needed to fully fund schools and ensure broad and rich curriculums, wraparound services, school counselors, school social workers and school nurses are available to every student; and WHEREAS, Illinois public higher education suffered greatly during the recession and budget impasse with an overall loss in state funding since 2000 of over 50 percent at the same time tuition for public higher education rose by an average of 35 percent since 2008, and outstanding student debt now exceeds $1.3 trillion; and WHEREAS, the fiscal year 2020 state budget signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker increased higher education general funding by $154 million or 8.2 percent, the largest year-over-year percentage increase since 1990; however, this increase still leaves public higher education funded below the fiscal year 2015 level; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will utilize legislative, policy and grass-roots strategies to advocate for full funding of the Evidence-Based Model and increased funding for public higher education; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will pursue state partnerships and facilitate local partnerships with other unions and organizations for the common goal of increased investment in public education at all levels, and that the IFT will work to continue electing pro-public education candidates in November 2020; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will continue advocating for passage of a Fair Tax as a means to provide the revenue needed for public education as a way to equitably and adequately fund our future.




Resolution No. 14: Building Member Power and Activism


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, despite a hostile political environment and constant challenges, the members and leaders of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) have repeatedly stood together, fought back and prevailed over those who reject the values of fairness, economic and social justice and a voice for everyone in American democracy: and
WHEREAS, public and private sector unions and community organizations stand together in championing a $15 per hour minimum wage in Illinois; and WHEREAS, the IFT has stood together to defeat union-busting attacks on its members’ collective bargaining rights, and as a result have thrived as a union despite the 2018 Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31; and WHEREAS, locals supported by the IFT and the American Federation of Teachers have pushed aggressively through member engagement campaigns such as the Peoria People’s Project and other efforts to maintain and increase membership density, acting on the IFT’s commitment to majority unionism; and WHEREAS, from North Chicago to East St. Louis and Rockford to Cairo, the IFT has fought school closures and state takeovers and has defended public schools as the cornerstone of neighborhood and community life; and WHEREAS, IFT members are again rising up, calling for fairness, just compensation and investment in public education, as well as support for healthcare and public services essential to the vitality of every community; and WHEREAS, member engagement and solidarity are essential to building union power and exercising that at the bargaining table or at the ballot box, recognizing that neither members nor local affiliates can achieve their full potential on their own; and WHEREAS, the IFT is committed to sustaining the solidarity and power of local, state and national labor organizations for the benefit of all; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will provide the tools and encouragement to members to speak with their colleagues, family members and neighbors about the importance of participation in American democracy and voting to secure the resources and autonomy needed to help children succeed and to defeat attempts to defund and privatize public schools; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to renew commitments to inclusive unionism in order to increase participatory governments; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will continue to grow internally and externally to increase power to help members build better lives for their families and improve schools and communities, while securing a fair wage, democracy in the workplace, and legislative and political strength.




Resolution No. 15: Immigration and Border Issues: Caring for Students


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS, one in seven Illinois residents is an immigrant, and undocumented immigrants comprise 24 percent of the immigrant population and 3.5 percent of the Illinois total population; and
WHEREAS, in 2012, President Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that allowed nearly 800,000 young people who entered the United States as undocumented children, of which more than 35,000 are Illinoisans and have deep roots in their communities, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and temporary work authorization, including teaching certification for those qualified to teach; and WHEREAS, school districts, colleges and universities should provide “safe space” and invest in wrap-around services, social/emotional supports and mental health services as well as end the criminalization and over-policing of youth which places immigrant students on a path to deportation through the school-to-prison pipeline; and WHEREAS, according to news reports, tens of thousands of undocumented students face renewed threats of deportation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests of undocumented immigrants have increased 40 percent during the Trump administration; and WHEREAS, immigrant families, particularly children, face disruption and separation because of the loss of family members to deportation; and WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) respects the contributions that immigrants make to the entire community through cultural and social contributions, work and civic leadership; and WHEREAS, the IFT must aggressively defend and protect the civil rights of all community members, so they are not exploited to fulfill quotas or fill cages to generate profit: and WHEREAS, Governor Pritzker has recently signed legislation banning private immigration detention centers in the state and prohibiting local law enforcement from working with federal immigration enforcement to remove undocumented immigrants; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will seek to collaborate with the American Federation of Teachers and other allies to provide pathways to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to organize against deportations, detention, criminalization and incarceration of black, brown and immigrant communities and instead will encourage locals to work with school districts, colleges and universities to invest in wrap-around services, social/emotional supports and mental health services; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for school districts and places of higher learning to refuse to give Immigration and Customs Enforcement or customs enforcement officials physical access to their institutions for the purpose of investigating and/or detaining students, faculty and workers; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage locals to advocate that school districts, colleges and universities refuse to voluntarily release academic records, employment records or membership lists of organizations to any law enforcement agencies targeting individuals solely on the basis of their immigration status, religion, racial or ethnic background, sex or gender, sexual identity or political affiliation; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will work with Governor Pritzker to ensure that the state remains committed to protecting and defending immigrants against cruel and illegal treatment of these most vulnerable citizens; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for educational institutions to provide the financial, academic and social supports to students, faculty and campus workers necessary to ensure true educational opportunity and economic well-being, recognizing that these supports are particularly vital for people who may be targets because of immigration status, religion, racial or ethnic background, sex or gender identity, sexual orientation or political affiliation.




Resolution No. 16: Leading From Within: Committing to Equity and Inclusivity


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board

WHEREAS, individuals are impacted by policies and decisions that undermine their family’s economic stability and quality of life through racism, sexism, classism, heterosexualism, transphobism, ableism, ageism and marginalization on bans of religion; and
WHEREAS, politicians and corporations have used race and ethnicity, cultural and geographic differences, to divide the country for decades, pitting one against the other to slow down unity around common causes, such as great quality schools for all, debt-free post-secondary education, universal healthcare, and an economy and society that works for everyone, not just the powerful few; and WHEREAS, the labor movement has ample examples of moments where the fight for workers’ rights has intersected with human rights and where people have fought collectively for a greater common good; and WHEREAS, fighting all forms of bigotry is not only a moral obligation, but the path to uniting and winning the future everyone deserves; and WHEREAS, work remains to create more inclusive spaces so that those from historically underrepresented groups can join the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), become activists and rise through the IFT’s leadership ranks; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and its local unions will raise awareness and build solidarity on how racism and other forms of bigotry have been used to weaken unity, limit power and damage efforts to advance an agenda that benefits all working people and their families; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT and its local unions will advocate for more diversity, inclusivity, equity and justice and will work to integrate the issues and concerns of members of underrepresented groups into the organizational, political and legislative work at all levels; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT and its local unions will work to ensure that its leadership, decision-making structures and staff reflect the diversity of its members and community.




Resolution No. 17: The Green New Deal


Submitted by: IFT Executive Board
WHEREAS,climate change is an urgent crisis confronting people all over the world: extreme weather, rising sea levels and pollution are wreaking havoc on the planet; and
WHEREAS, the climate crisis exacerbates already-existing systemic injustices along racial, regional, social and economic lines; and WHEREAS, the climate crisis exacerbates growing income inequality and living standards in the United States; and WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers has recently worked, mobilized and advocated along with other unions, environmental organizations and impacted communities for a science-based solution to the effects of climate change; and WHEREAS, the climate crisis has had a disproportionate impact on “frontline communities” (including indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities and youth); and WHEREAS, the Green New Deal, sponsored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, was introduced February 7, 2019, in the United States Congress; and WHEREAS, the Green New Deal is an ambitious framework for a series of projects and policies to achieve the following goals, among others, by the year 2030:

  • net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for frontline communities and workers
  • millions of high-wage jobs to ensure prosperity and economic security for all;
  • investments in United States infrastructure, industry and society to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st Century
  • clean air and water, climate resiliency, sustainable livelihoods and access to nature for all generations to come
  • justice and equity for frontline communities by repairing current and historic harms; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois General Assembly is weighing the Clean Energy Jobs Act (Senate Bill 2132/House Bill 3624) that:
  • sets an aggressive target of decarbonizing the state’s energy by 2030
  • runs the state completely on renewable energy by 2050 by deploying more than 40 million solar panels and 2,500 wind turbines
  • provides $20 billion in new infrastructure over the next decade
  • calls for cutting emissions from transportation and for vastly expanding the clean energy workforce; therefore be it
RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will endorse the Green New Deal and will urge the American Federation of Teachers to encourage swift adoption by the United States Congress; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will support the Clean Energy Jobs Bill to ensure: • A massive investment in energy efficient infrastructure to ensure clean drinking water, affordable and efficient public transportation, energy efficient buildings and schools
• Good jobs, labor peace and union-friendly policies in the green energy economy
• Investment in good jobs in communities historically dependent on the fossil fuel
industry so that no workers and no communities are left behind.




Resolution No. 18: The Illinois Federation of Teachers Will Oppose Efforts to Privatize Public Services, Pre-Kindergarten through 12 Education, Community Colleges and State Universities, and Make the Argument for Vigorous Investment in the Public Sector


Submitted by: Cook County Community Colleges Teachers Union, Local 1600
WHEREAS, for decades, Illinoisans have fallen for the argument that taxpayer-funded state and local public services result in wasteful government spending; and
WHEREAS, this false belief has led Illinois’ elected leaders and policy makers to discard their responsibilities to care for the state; and WHEREAS, these leaders have failed to raise revenues to fund supports for the state’s neediest residents, those living in poverty and seniors, as well as services for the general public, students of all ages, parks, water systems, natural resources, research and teaching institutions, roads, bridges, transportation infrastructure, mental health and other essential services; and WHEREAS, after creating a crisis by starving education and public services for decades, pro-privatization elected officials, right-leaning editorial boards, investors and corporate leaders have cried ‘Government is Failing’ and offered outsourcing as the solution to rebuilding the state and schools; and WHEREAS, privatized water systems, notably in Flint, Michigan, have harmed that community’s largely minority population; and WHEREAS, the Chicago Parking Meter Deal represents an obvious example of the ruinous nature of privatization. The private company paid $1.16 billion to Chicago as part of the deal. The lease lasts for 99 years. The company is set to make back all its investment by 2021 with 62 years left on the lease. In 2018 alone, the private company collected $132 million. The city of Chicago spent all the proceeds from the sale of the meters in the first year of the deal to fill a budget gap. Had the city of Chicago retained control of street parking revenues, this would be a source of revenue to fund essential services as well as the city’s unfunded pension liabilities; and WHEREAS, outsourcing of the Chicago Skyway and the parking lots under Millennium Park resulted in a loss to Chicago taxpayers of $133 million in 2017; and WHEREAS, privatized public assets result in raised fees for the public, while private owners maximize profits by limiting services; and WHEREAS, in Chicago Public Schools, the Board of Education sold off janitorial services to two private firms. This increased profits by minimizing staff, resulting in filthy buildings and a lack of accountability because principals and building engineers lost authority over the management of their own maintenance staffs; and WHEREAS, at schools, colleges and universities, privatization of maintenance, security guards, wrap-around supports, online instruction, tutoring services and book stores have created profits for private firms at the expense of students and communities; and WHEREAS, outsourced public school substitute teachers in Illinois served as attempted strike breakers in Charter School Strikes in Chicago; and WHEREAS, the results of these efforts include a shrunken public workforce, deteriorating infrastructure, the loss of kindergarten through 12 support staff, clinicians and teachers, the advent of the kindergarten through 12 testing regimen, proliferating charter schools, continued racial and economic inequity, a growing gap between working people and those with more resources, a transference of higher education funding from the state to students in the form of astronomical tuition increases and slashed budgets for state higher education; and WHEREAS, private firms providing public goods are less accountable to the people they serve as they lack democratically elected boards and do not comply with public sector laws like the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act; and WHEREAS, privatization, in order to maximize profits for the wealthiest, results in harms to average working people who stand to lose healthcare, fair wages and working conditions, a dignified retirement and access to free and public natural resources, clean air and public water; and WHEREAS, to address the historic underfunding of Illinois’ public sector and the resulting hollowing-out of essential public services, colleges and universities, and pre-kindergarten through 12 education, a tax rate structure has been proposed, which will result in 97% of Illinoisans paying the same or less than they currently pay, while the wealthiest 3% of Illinois taxpayers will pay more; and this Fair Tax, should it pass, will allow the state and local governments to invest in people, services, infrastructure and schools, without privatizing services; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will be an outspoken leader in the fight to build up and protect the public sector, making the argument for vigorous investment in the meaningful work of public employees, pre-kindergarten through 12 educators, and community college and university educators; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will oppose legislative efforts to privatize any public jobs in constitutional offices, at state agencies, in schools, libraries, municipal or county offices, and other public assets, including municipal water systems in Illinois; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will strategize and collaborate with labor and community partners and engage locals and allies in fighting privatization at the municipal, county and state levels; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will encourage and support its members’ and locals’ participation in the fight for full funding of the public sector via its spirited advocacy for the Fair Tax.




Resolution No. 19: Adjunct Faculty Economic Conditions


Submitted by: University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100
WHEREAS, part-time adjunct faculty is making up an increasing percentage of teaching faculty at universities and community colleges nationwide; and
WHEREAS, adjunct faculty salaries are typically much less than those of full-time non-tenure track faculty on a per course basis; and WHEREAS, many adjunct faculty teach part time, often only a single class, at multiple institutions in order to earn enough to support themselves; and WHEREAS, adjunct faculty who are not employed at a 50% or greater workload at any institution are not eligible for benefits; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) actively advocates for legislation to guarantee a minimum per class salary for adjunct faculty that is at least equal to the equivalent percentage salary of a starting full-time, non-tenured track faculty member at the institution; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate for legislation, guaranteeing the availability of state benefits, including health insurance and pension, for any adjunct faculty teaching a combined 50 percent workload at any combination of public higher education institutions.




Resolution No. 20: Education Teacher Performance Assessment


Submitted by: University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100
WHEREAS, there is a widely documented teacher shortage in Illinois; and
WHEREAS, people of color are underrepresented in the teaching ranks in Illinois; and WHEREAS, the Illinois State Board of Education has entered into a contractual agreement with Pearson Corporation to provide mandated exit evaluation of teacher certification candidates called Education Teacher Performance Assessment (EdTPA) in Illinois; and WHEREAS, teacher candidates are required to submit teacher performance portfolios, including videotaped lessons, to Pearson Corporation for evaluation at a cost to the candidate of $300, presenting an unfair additional financial burden on students; and WHEREAS, standardized testing has been repeatedly demonstrated to disadvantage students of color; and WHEREAS, responsibility and authority to determine which teacher candidates successfully complete their programs and achieve entitlement for certification is removed from university faculty and given to a third party through a standardized test; and WHEREAS, all teacher education programs in Illinois have been required to adopt the EdTPA or lose the authority to accept new students; and WHEREAS, Illinois should be seeking to remove impediments to the development within the state of qualified teachers, particularly teachers of color; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) actively advocates for the removal of Education Teacher Performance Assessment as a required part of teacher certification on the grounds that it strips university professionals of their rightful exercise of professional expertise and authority over their own programs and discourages Illinois students from enrolling in teacher education programs in the state; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will oppose any third party testing that removes the authority to determine which teacher candidates successfully complete their programs and achieve entitlement for certification from university faculty.




Resolution No. 21: Freedom of Speech at Educational Institutions


Submitted by: University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100
WHEREAS, President Donald Trump has recently issued an Executive Order that conditions federal research money on “compliance with the First Amendment” and requires that institutions “avoid creating environments that stifle competing perspectives”; and
WHEREAS, the president stated that the Executive Order is aimed at “professors and power structures” that prevent individuals from “challenging far-left ideology”; and WHEREAS, the Executive Order creates the impression that there exists a free speech crisis at educational institutions and that campus limitations of speech are endemic; and WHEREAS, the Executive Order is unclear in its application and enforcement, as well as whether or how it creates new obligations or will require changes to existing practices; and WHEREAS, educational institutions bear a particular responsibility for fostering discovery, learning and intellectual rigor; and WHEREAS, attention has been drawn to a small number of incidents where extreme purveyors of false information, hate speech and/or threatening rhetoric have been precluded or disinvited from certain speaking engagements at university facilities, creating questions about free speech rights; and WHEREAS, many students, teachers and faculty have questions concerning their speech rights at educational institutions, the limitations and boundaries of those rights including of various types of speech such as “hate speech” and the obligations of their institutions to allow/foster speech; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) supports the development of resources, information and training to engage faculty and students in discussions of free speech issues, to inform them of legal rights, requirements and limitations, and to encourage awareness and engagement of speech issues on campus; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT supports the academic freedom of all faculty, students and staff.




esolution No. 22: Invest In Illinois Public Higher Education


Submitted by: University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100
WHEREAS, Illinois public higher education plays a crucial role in citizens’ and Illinois’ economic stability and growth; and
WHEREAS, for decades, Illinois public higher education has provided Illinois numerous civil, cultural, scientific and agricultural advancements; and WHEREAS, Illinois higher education receives less funding today than it did in fiscal year 2000 and when adjusted for inflation, the state has cut funding to Illinois higher education by 48.75 percent; and WHEREAS, Illinois would need to increase funding to Illinois public higher education by almost $1.8 billion to bring its funding level back to where it was in 2000; and WHEREAS, the state, during the Rauner budget crisis, cut Illinois public higher education funding by more than 60 percent and never made the institutions whole; and WHEREAS, the failure to fund Illinois public higher education has resulted in institutions being forced to rely on student tuition which has created a significant student debt problem with approximately 70 percent of all four-year institution students graduating with an average student debt of almost $30,000; and WHEREAS, the average tuition and fees for Illinois public higher education institutions are the fifth highest in the country and the highest among Midwestern states; and WHEREAS, the Illinois Monetary Assistance Program, which provides financial support to low income students, was only able to provide funding for 43 percent of eligible students in 2018; and WHEREAS, more than 47 percent of graduating high school students leave Illinois to attend out of state universities, and overall enrollment in Illinois higher education has steadily declined; and WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers passed a resolution at its 2016 convention that called for free public higher education; and WHEREAS, the Fair Tax would bring approximately $3.6 billion in new revenue to Illinois if the amendment is approved by voters; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) sets the passage of the Fair Tax as its highest political agenda and calls on all members to assist in its passage by canvassing, phone banking and any other means to support its passage; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT, upon passage of the Fair Tax Amendment, advocates for three consecutive fiscal year budget increases to Illinois Public Higher Education of $600 million each fiscal year with a significant amount ear-marked to decrease the tuition and fees for Illinois students as the state moves towards free higher education for all.




Resolution No. 23: Gun Violence Prevention and University Safety


Submitted by: University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100
WHEREAS, all students deserve safe, welcoming, supportive university environments where they can learn and thrive without fear; and
WHEREAS, no faculty, staff or student in an institution of higher education should fear for their lives or be victimized by gun violence while attending class; and WHEREAS, at Northern Illinois University, five students lost their lives in a mass shooting in 2008; and WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers has had a resolution condemning gun violence and proposing common-sense solutions since 2018; therefore be it RESOLVED, Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) supports and advocates for solutions in Illinois, including but not limited to expansion of background checks, elimination of the gun show loophole and bans on high-capacity ammunition magazines and "bump stocks," which are not needed either for hunting or for self-defense; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will work to reduce the disproportionate influence of the National Rifle Association at the state level, through such measures as pension fund divestment, lobbying, etc.




Resolution No. 24: Form Committee on LGBTQ+ Contributions in Curricula


Submitted by: University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100
WHEREAS, the history of the LGBTQ+ people and their contributions to world history and culture have been redacted from most high school curricula; and

WHEREAS, this redaction leaves students without historically significant LGBTQ+ role models to help inspire them; and
WHEREAS, the lack of historically significant LGBTQ+ role models contributes to the social isolation and cultural marginalization of LGBTQ+ youth at the most vulnerable time in their lives; and WHEREAS, this isolation and the ignorance which supports it are primary contributors to anti-LGBTQ+ bullying in Illinois high schools; and WHEREAS, bullying shatters fragile self-esteem and is a proven factor in LGBTQ+ youth self- harm and suicide; and WHEREAS, LGBTQ+ content often misses important aspects of other oppressions due to intersecting identities; and WHEREAS, the inclusion of LGBTQ+ history-based and health-based information in high school curricula has been proved to reduce all instances of bullying and leads to better education outcomes and success; and WHEREAS, inclusive curriculum has been shown to benefit non-LGBTQ+ students and school staff by facilitating a fuller understanding of human achievements across a spectrum of learned experiences; and WHEREAS, a fuller understanding of human achievements derived from a variety of individuals underscores the benefits of diverse perspectives and contributions for society as a whole; and WHEREAS, no student should graduate from high school in Illinois without having an understanding of the historical and cultural contributions, significant milestones and achievements of LGBTQ+ people; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers forms a committee to develop new curricular supplements to facilitate the inclusion of LGBTQ+ contributions, achievements and significant historical events in high school history, humanities, social studies, science, mathematics and health education courses in all kindergarten through 12 Illinois public schools, as directed by the Illinois legislature's recent passage of House Bill 246; and be it finally RESOLVED, the said committee will work with other partners such as Equality Illinois, the Safe Schools Alliance, the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, the Legacy Project and their subsidiary, the Legacy Project Education Initiative, to expand their existing LGBTQ+ history materials through an intersectional lens, particularly lesson plans, to support the inclusion of LGBTQ+ contributions, achievements and significant historical events in high school history, humanities, social studies, science, mathematics and health education curricula.




Resolution No. 25: Black Lives Matter at School


Submitted by: Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1
WHEREAS, the closing of public schools, turnarounds and other school actions have negatively and disproportionately impacted black and brown communities; and
WHEREAS, there continues to be, in many Illinois school districts, too few black teachers and teachers of color in proportion to the number of students of color they teach; and WHEREAS, Illinois House Bill 2859 was signed in 1991 and section 27-20.4 of the Illinois School Code mandated that “every public elementary school and high school shall include in its curriculum a unit of instruction studying the events of Black History”; and WHEREAS, the implementation of ethnic studies and culturally sustaining curricula is of critical importance to supporting the learning needs of all students, but particularly for black, brown and other students of color; and WHEREAS, according to the “Handcuffs in Hallways” report by the Shriver Center (February 2017), “Between 2012 and 2016, the police officers assigned to public schools in Chicago accumulated $2,030,652 in misconduct settlements for activities on and off school grounds,” and “of that total, nearly $1.5 million resulted from excessive use of force against a minor; and WHEREAS, according to the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (September 2015), black and brown students face suspensions from school at disproportionate rates even when risk factors “such as poverty and low achievement” are controlled for; and WHEREAS, Illinois Senate Bill 100 was signed in 2015 and was intended to reduce exclusionary discipline which disproportionately kept black and brown students out of school and contributed to them entering the school-to-prison pipeline; and WHEREAS, discipline, criminalization and over-policing of black and brown students have proved to be ineffective in the improvement of outcomes, damaging to their health and well-being, and restorative practices have been proved to be a powerful tool in the reduction of disproportionate discipline and improved school climate; and WHEREAS, many school districts often ineffectively implement restorative practices without adequate training, support and understanding of their role in a developmentally appropriate system of accountability, consequences and harm reparation; and WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers continues to advocate that school districts staff school counselors and clinicians (especially school social workers, nurses and psychologists) at levels recommended by their respective national professional organizations in order to support and address students’ socioemotional and other needs; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) endorses participation in Black Lives Matter at School Week each year during the first week of Black History Month; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will promote events during or around this week and engage in advocacy on an ongoing basis aligned to the national demands for hiring more black teachers and ending the pushout of black teachers in schools, proper implementation of restorative practices in schools and ending zero tolerance discipline, teaching students black history and other ethnic studies curricula, and funding more counselors in schools as opposed to police officers; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT encourages members to wear Black Lives Matter at School shirts to school that week and teach lessons about related topics.




Resolution No. 26: The Fight Against Student Loan Debt


Submitted by: West Suburban Teachers Union, Local 571
WHEREAS, student debt impacts 45 million Americans (around one in four) with $1.6 trillion owed and is the second-largest and fastest-growing source of personal debt after home mortgages; and
WHEREAS, graduates owe $38,000 on average, $20,000 more than 13 years ago, with the default rate doubling from 2003-2011 with 40 percent of borrowers expected to default by 2023; and WHEREAS, graduate students are increasingly shouldering the country’s student debt as reported by National Public Radio; and WHEREAS, every 1 percent increase in student debt decreases the likelihood of home ownership by 15 percent; and WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers conducted a national survey in May and June of 2018, documenting the impact of student debt on members’ financial, physical and mental health, family, retirement and professional well-being; and WHEREAS, the survey shows

  • student debt is a greater problem for younger members with 75 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 reporting student debt to be a major burden on the household and up to 70 percent of members of color reporting the same;
  • student debt is the biggest financial burden most members face with up to 55 percent stating student debt is a major burden on their household;
  • student debt produces a psychological toll on members with 92 percent having increased stress levels;
  • many members, 43 percent, report struggling to pay bills or falling behind financially;
  • student debt takes a significant financial toll with 74 percent of members reporting at least one adverse financial impact; and
WHEREAS, not more than 34 percent of members have certified into Public Service Loan Forgiveness companies even though most members working for public or non-profit employers may qualify; and WHEREAS, members want help with student debt including debt consolidation and student debt clinics, as well as holding President Trump and members of his administration accountable for the growing student debt crisis; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will assist locals in offering student debt clinic training to members including information about income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT encourages locals to work with their school districts to engage in shared labor-management clinics, to provide student debt clinic training to members and other staff whose work includes outreach to students for securing loans; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT helps locals build student debt campaigns to share the stories of those impacted by student debt in the news, social media, blogs, newsletters and on the website; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT provides assistance to locals during bargaining for student debt benefits; and it be finally RESOLVED, the IFT considers a candidate’s positions and proposals to address the student debt crisis as part of the union’s political endorsement process for state and national elections.




Resolution No. 27: Advocating For Reform of Tier II Pension System


Submitted by: University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100
WHEREAS, it takes ten years to vest into Tier II of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) and it has been projected that half of teachers in Tier II will not collect these benefits because of this unusually long vesting period; and
WHEREAS, research suggests that over three-quarters of Tier II SURS enrollees will not receive any positive accrual of retirement benefits; and WHEREAS, the Tier II system likely violates federal law and the state should be required to offer Social Security benefits to those in the Tier II system, therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers investigates the legality of the Tier II of the state retirement systems and Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund and vigorously and publicly advocate for its reform.




Resolution No. 28: Non-Reappointment of Non-Tenure Track Faculty at Illinois Public Universities


Submitted by: UIC United Faculty, Local 6456
WHEREAS, non-tenure track faculty at Illinois public universities plays a vital role in the teaching and research missions of public higher education; and
WHEREAS, non-tenure track faculty is a growing percentage of the faculties at Illinois public universities; and WHEREAS, non-tenure track faculty should have sufficient notice of non-reappointment to be able to find new employment in an academic job market where job searches are conducted, and job offers made, months in advance of a new academic term starting; and WHEREAS, non-tenure track faculty deserves to be given reasons for non-reappointment out of respect for their human dignity, and to further their professional development; and WHEREAS, non-tenure track faculty at Illinois community colleges is currently by law required to receive a notice of non-reappointment no later than 60 days before the end of a school year or term; and WHEREAS, non-tenure track faculty at Illinois community colleges is currently by law entitled to specific reasons for non-reappointment; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers supports legislation to bring the non-reappointment of Illinois public university non-tenure track faculty into alignment with current law governing non-reappointment of community college non-tenure track faculty, mandating that notification of non-reappointment come no later than 60 days before the end of a school year or term, and that upon request, those not reappointed receive in writing reasons for non-reappointment.




Resolution No. 29: Expand Transgender Affirming Healthcare Coverage


Submitted by: UIC United Faculty, Local 6456
WHEREAS, transgender persons experience rates of violence and suicide higher than that of the overall United States population and much higher than their cisgender peers, due in large part to systemic transmisogyny and transmisia, which is anti-transgender prejudice combined with the application of cisgender-centered norms; and
WHEREAS, the majority of transmisic violence is perpetuated against transgender people who do not present as the gender the viewer expects, and are thus not “passing,” especially non-passing transgender women; and WHEREAS, those acts of violence are motivated by the expectation that individuals should present as the gender that the viewer expects, which is based upon visible secondary sex characteristics that are parts of the body seen by viewers in public; and WHEREAS, although sex and gender are not binary, yet society and health insurance companies in Illinois follow a sex and gender binary by focusing transgender-affirming care on genitalia, a part of the body not generally seen by viewers in public, and excluding and labeling as cosmetic transgender-affirming care for secondary sex characteristics, the clues public viewers use to identify expected gender; and WHEREAS, medical and social scientists agree that treatments and procedures that achieve gender-appropriate secondary sex characteristics are part of medically necessary transgender-affirming care; and WHEREAS, the application of cisgender standards of “medically necessity” and “cosmetic” upon transgender healthcare, when medical requirements differ in very specific areas, is discriminatory, because cisgender identity is positioned as “normal” rather than one of the gender identities; and WHEREAS, defining cisgender identity as the default or normal identity creates health disparities suffered by transgender persons; and WHEREAS, Illinois complies with the Affordable Care Act in requiring health insurance companies to not discriminate based upon gender identity; and WHEREAS, the Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of “actual or perceived...gender-related identity, whether or not traditionally associated with the person's designated sex at birth”; therefore be it RESOLVED, this resolution will be shared publicly; and be it further RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) supports expansion of healthcare coverage to include transgender-affirming secondary sex characteristics; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT encourages its members to call their Illinois state senators and representatives to expand transgender-affirming healthcare; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate that all educational institutions in Illinois receiving public funds petition the Illinois Department of Insurance, the Governor of Illinois and all members of the Illinois legislative branch to expand transgender-affirming healthcare; and be it finally RESOLVED, a copy of this resolution be sent to the Illinois Department of Insurance, the Governor of Illinois and all members of the Illinois legislative branch.




Resolution No. 30: Support Public Employees


Submitted by: IFT Public (State) Employee Constituency Council
WHEREAS, Governor Rauner during his administration demonized and violated union employees collective bargaining agreements and portrayed public employees in a bad light; and
WHEREAS, public union membership has slightly decreased in Illinois since the United States Janus case which was financially supported by Governor Rauner and his ilk a year ago; and WHEREAS, members are employed throughout the various state agencies under the Governor’s Office and under the Constitutional Offices of the Attorney General, Comptroller, Secretary of State and Treasurer as security guards at mental health facilities, as automotive mechanics ensuring equipment is safe for roads, as inspectors ensuring the health and safety of many products, as employees at the State Library and as hard working employees in various titles who are committed to providing the best services to the public and communities in which they serve; and WHEREAS, efforts in communicating and engaging members has increased to provide a better understanding of the value and importance of being in a union; and WHEREAS, members are committed and dedicated to providing efficient services to the public and communities; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will continue to advocate and support public employees through professional development and trainings; and be it further RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate and support legislation that addresses the needs and concerns of public employees; and be it finally RESOLVED, the IFT will advocate and support adequate funding for state workers to sustain and maintain public services for all people of Illinois.




Resolution No. 31: In Recognition of Dedicated Service and Leadership


Submitted by: IFT Public (State) Employees Constituency Council
In Recognition of dedicated service and leadership, Illinois Federation of Public Employees Local 4408 presents this resolution in honor of Tom Kosowski, former President of Local 4408
WHEREAS, Tom Kosowski throughout his career served with dedication and loyalty for 37 years with the Illinois Department of Transportation; and WHEREAS, in 1988, Tom became a very active member of the union and in 1990 was elected as Area Vice-President of RC-45 and Representative Assembly Member and negotiated a just and fair contract; and WHEREAS, Tom has demonstrated admirable leadership by empowering Illinois Federation of Public Employees Local 4408 members to become engaged and active within their respective councils and reach almost 100 percent membership; and WHEREAS, since 2002, Tom has served on the Executive Board of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, ensuring that public employees have a voice and are adequately represented; and WHEREAS, in 2008, Tom was elected as President of Local 4408 and since that time has recruited new members of the 20th Judicial Circuit probation officers and circuit clerk workers; and WHEREAS, Tom has served since 2014 as an American Federation of Teachers Public Employees Program and Policy Council member, representing over 1,500 members employed with the Illinois Governor’s Office and Constitutional Offices; and WHEREAS, Tom has worked tirelessly, representing members at state legislature hearings and educating legislators by addressing the members’ needs and interests; and WHEREAS, since 1993, Tom has served on the Community High School District #218 School Board and as President for more than 20 years; therefore be it RESOLVED, the Illinois Federation of Teachers expresses its appreciation for his dedication, tireless efforts and commitment in transforming the union into a strong and powerful union.




Special Order of Business: Honoring Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT


WHEREAS, Karen GJ Lewis served as a National Board-Certified Teacher in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for twenty-two (22) years teaching chemistry; and WHEREAS, Karen GJ Lewis, a product of CPS, attended Mount Holyoke College and Dartmouth where she graduated with a degree in sociology and music in 1974, as the only African American in her class; and WHEREAS, Karen GJ Lewis, the child of a CPS teacher, has a passion for justice in education, society and the world, born in her youth on the South Side of Chicago; and WHEREAS, Karen GJ Lewis heeded the call of like-minded activists to run for President of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) in 2010 to fight the Chicago Board of Education for educational equity in the City of Chicago; and WHEREAS, Karen GJ Lewis was elected president of the CTU and executive vice-president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) in 2010 and under her leadership ushered the CTU into unprecedented advocacy and success; and WHEREAS, Karen GJ Lewis’ fearless advocacy for IFT and CTU members and students set the stage for an unprecedented movement to undercut policies of austerity, privatization and educational inequity, including the first CTU strike in three decades, receiving national attention; and WHEREAS, through Karen GJ Lewis’ leadership, the strike of 2012 served as a catalyst for increased activism in the labor movement and was the precursor to educator walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona; and WHEREAS, Karen GJ Lewis’ advocacy for activism, community engagement and organizing to build the collective power of the union has helped transform the IFT, focusing on member engagement, union building and activism; and WHEREAS, Karen GJ Lewis has stated, “Democracy will not come today, this year, nor ever, through compromise and fear”; and WHEREAS, the IFT Executive Board has created the “Karen GJ Lewis Militancy Award” to be presented to an individual or local which has demonstrated Karen’s spirit of union activism and belief in justice; and WHEREAS, Karen GJ Lewis is retiring as the executive vide-president of the IFT effective at the close of the 2019 IFT Convention; therefore be it RESOLVED, that the Delegates of the Illinois Federation of Teachers 2019 Convention honor and celebrate Karen GJ Lewis for her nearly three decades of public service as an exemplary teacher, advocate, union leader and fighter for social and economic justice and labor rights.





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