IFT History arrow

1995-2015 Timeline

  • New IFT Springfield headquarters named after former IFT and Chicago Teachers Union President Jacqueline B. Vaughn
  • Thomas H. Reece elected to first full term as IFT President
  • First IFT Leadership Development Conference held in St. Louis
  • CTU negotiates first-ever four year contract with Chicago Public Schools (CPS)

  • IFT and Illinois Education Association agree to “no-raid” pact, agree to stop competing against each other for members and focus on working together to address the challenges facing public education
  • Peoria charter school becomes first to organize, joins IFT
    The Peoria Alternative Charter School becomes the first charter in Illinois to organize, joining the Peoria Federation of Teachers, Local 780 and opening the door for charter organizing growth

  • CTU celebrates 80th Anniversary as first chartered local union of the AFT

  • IFT efforts help pass “2.2” pension legislation
    Member action helped to pass long-sought pension improvements in SB 3, legislation that established a 2.2 flat rate formula to determine pension benefits. SB 3 allows members in TRS and the Chicago Public School Teachers Pension System to retire earlier with increased benefits.
  • IFT and President Thomas H. Reece named “Most Influential” in public education by Homework Central, the largest academic research site on the Internet (at that time)
  • North Greene Education Association, Local 3818, reaches agreement after 44 day strike, one of the longest in Illinois history
  • IFT election efforts secure key democratic majorities in Illinois House and Senate

  • Great Lakes Naval Base instructors, members of the Lake County Federation of Teachers, Local 504, win huge settlement IFT works to ensure improperly laid off workers are rehired and awarded more than $65,000 in back pay
  • IFT awarded first place by the American Federation of Teachers for most new locals organized between 1997 and 1998
  • Faculty in the Eastern Illinois University chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), Local 4100, defeat decertification efforts and vote to stay IFT
  • Union establishes IFT Program Development Department
    New department is designed to meet all members’ needs by offering  increased union leadership training and professional development opportunities

  • IFT stops a proposed privatization plan, prevents layoffs of members at the Illinois Department of Revenue
  • GEO wins in court Appellate Court rules that graduate employees at the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana have the right to collectively bargain with the university
  • IFT member and former IFT Director of Political Activities Margaret Blackshere elected first female to lead Illinois AFL-CIO

  • The IFT establishes an internship program in the Department of Field Operations
    New program will train the next generation of union staff to service locals and members
  • IFT efforts prevent 250 member layoffs at the Illinois State Board of Education

  • James Dougherty, Local 1274, elected IFT President
  • Union establishes an Induction/Mentor Training program to teach school district teams how to attract and retain high-quality educators
  • IFT joins with other unions at massive Solidarity Day rally in Springfield More than 10,000 gather at the capitol to support labor issues and defend the rights of working men and women
  • Illinois Dental Hygienists’ Association (IDHA) affiliates with IFT Union welcomes more than 1,100 dental professionals into the IFT through its first health care group affiliation
  • Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) at UIUC wins bargaining rights
    After an eight-year struggle for justice, 2,600 graduate employees vote to join the IFT

  • Many IFT professional development courses offer college credit through a partnership with Prairie State College
  • Card check” provision becomes law
    As signed, HB 3396 provides automatic union recognition to public and educational employees if the majority of workers sign cards indicating their desire to be represented by a union; an election is not required

  • New IFT headquarters building in Westmont is dedicated to former IFT and CTU President Robert M. Healey
    Built in partnership with the West Suburban Teachers Union, Local 571, the IFT headquarters and conference facility will house state and local staff and host major union meetings and events
  • Graduate Employees’ Organization at the University of Illinois – Chicago make history; become first campus union to certify under “card check”
  • IFT-endorsed Barack Obama wins U.S. Senate seat

  • IFT efforts to pass SB 27 help prevent pension benefit cuts for current and future retirees
  • IFT joins A+ Illinois - a broad-based coalition of education, business, health care and community groups - to build support for education funding reform
  • IFT locals help Katrina victims
    Locals, members and staff provide monetary and other donations, as well as on-site assistance, to help victims of the tragedy in New Orleans

  • Employees of the Illinois Community College Board join IFT through the card check process
  • National Center for Educational Accountability (NCEA) recognizes IFT-staffed schools for best practices and high achievement

  • 70th anniversary of the IFT; union membership stands at more than 90,000
  • Illinois State Board of Education adopts Part 226 special education rules; IFT’s Special Education Taskforce played key role in development
  • Governor proclaims the third Wednesday of each November as PSRP Day in Illinois to recognize the thousands of men and women who provide essential services as paraprofessionals and school-related personnel in schools, colleges and universities
  • Ed Geppert Jr., Local 1272, elected IFT president

  • IFT efforts help defeat Constitutional Convention Members statewide worked phone banks, mailed postcards, and talked to family and friends to successfully urge a NO vote on that harmful ballot question
  • IFT endorses U.S. Senator Barack Obama in his successful bid for President of the United States
    One of Obama’s earliest supporters, our union’s efforts helped propel Obama to a decisive victory

  • IFT launches Fight for Illinois' Future campaign The massive effort, part of the AFT’s Fight for America’s Future campaign, delivers the message to lawmakers and the public that it is time to adequately fund education and public services
  • Chicago International Charter Schools/Civitas becomes first charter school in Chicago to join Chicago Alliance of Teachers and Staff (ACTS)/IFT

  • Illinois adopts Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for teaching and learning
    IFT and our members begin long term efforts to help educators and school districts implement them effectively to improve education
  • Daniel J. Montgomery, Local 1274, elected IFT president

  • IFT launches LASR (Local Action for Statewide Results), New political action program educates lawmakers and builds beneficial relationships between members and elected leaders
  • University of Illinois – Chicago faculty (UIC United) join IFT Victory marks the first large research university to organize in Illinois history and adds more than 1,000 members to our union
  • IFT joins forces with unions in the We Are One (WAO) Illinois coalition to protect pensions and collective bargaining
    WAO brings together labor unions representing over 1 million working men and women across the state to protect public employee pensions. At a massive rally in Chicago in the spring, several thousand unionists stand up for their retirement security and right to collective bargaining.
  • Senate Bill 7 is signed into law
    Negotiated in partnership with the IFT, CTU, Illinois Education Association, other education stakeholders and lawmakers, this compromise legislation contains bold education reforms while seeking to protect fundamental rights like tenure, seniority, collective bargaining, and the right to strike. The bill is imperfect however, and numerous unintended consequences have accompanied it. The IFT is committed to addressing these issues and protecting our members’ best interests.

  • IFT Executive Board approves Our Path Forward
    The union establishes four strategic priorities to guide our efforts to create a more effective, more powerful IFT - in the present and future. The four priorities are:
  • IFT endorses President Obama in second successful presidential bid
  • CTU historic eight-day strike is heard ‘round the world
    More than 30,000 members stand up for respect and quality public education for all kids in a fight against corporate-funded, anti-union forces
  • UNO charter schools join Chicago ACTS/IFT The victory means that more than 20 percent of charter school employees in Chicago are unionized
  • IFT efforts key to passing an essential state income tax increase to fund schools, public services

  • IFT works with partners to launch ITED – the Illinois Teacher Evaluation and Development project This online guidebook is a tool to help labor and management work together to develop and implement effective teacher evaluation systems in their districts
  • Unprecedented engagement by IFT members and We Are One Illinois coalition protects pensions from SB 1 and SB 512, unfair, unconstitutional legislation
  • IFT and We Are One Illinois work with Sen. Pres. John Cullerton to introduce SB 2404
    Legislation would save the state billions and offer a fair, shared solution to the pension crisis
  • IFT joins “A Better Illinois” coalition to fight for fairer taxation to fix state’s broken structural revenue system and fund critical programs and services

  • The IFT, as part of the We Are One Illinois coalition, files a lawsuit in January in state circuit court to overturn unconstitutional SB 1, beginning a long battle to protect public employees’ retirement security.
  • After two years of bargaining, instructors at University of Illinois-Chicago reach first-ever contract with UIC administration after conducting a two-day work stoppage.
  • UNO Charter Schools in Chicago ratify their first union contract.
  • U.S. Supreme Court rules in Harris v. Quinn, making it harder for many low-paid health care workers to be represented by a union by restricting their union’s right to collect fair share fees.
  • IL Supreme Court rules in Kanerva v. Weems, a case brought by the IFT and others, that health care for retired state workers is a constitutionally protected benefit. This is a good sign for the IFT and We Are One’s fight against SB 1.
  • IFT’s #TheWholeStory campaign gets overwhelming positive response from educators and others after a Chicago Tribune article smears teachers as being unqualified.
  • Sangamon County Circuit Court rules that health care premiums that were wrongfully increased under SB 1313 must be restored to their previous rates. Affected IFT retirees and others will be refunded for any increases paid. IFT was a key player in this fight to defend member rights.
  • Waukegan teachers, members of the Lake County Federation of Teachers, Local 504, are forced to the picket lines for 20 days in a tough fight for fairness, respect, and a quality education for kids.
  • Despite the coordinated effort by the IFT and all of labor in the 2014 Primary and General elections, Illinois voters elect billionaire Bruce Rauner as Governor, who pledges to destroy unions and “shake up” Springfield.
  • Pension victory! After a yearlong fight, a Sangamon County Circuit Court rules that pension-slashing SB 1 is unconstitutional and void. The state appeals to the Illinois Supreme Court.


  • Governor Bruce Rauner's first budget address sets the stage for tough fights ahead to provide adequate funding for education and public services and to protect fundamental worker rights.
  • Hundreds of IFT local union and council presidents from around the state gather at the 2015 IFT Presidents' Conference where they learn successful techniques to engage and mobilize members to fight critical battles to protect our rights, our professions, and those we serve.
  • IFT and other union members attend standing-room-only meetings in communities around the state to speak out - and overwhelmingly defeat - Rauner's "turnaround" agenda. The Governor's plan would essentially eliminate collective bargaining rights and enact "right-to-work" policies, which are proven to harm all workers.
  • Despite Governor Rauner's illegal attempt to stop the collection of fair share fees, a St. Clair County Circuit Court judge issues an order requiring state agencies to continue to deduct the fees from employees' paychecks.
  • IFT members support and elect collaborative candidates in critical school board and local elections statewide.
  • IFT launches #TheWholeStory, a digital campaign where members and supporters can speak out and share their personal perspectives, in their own words.
  • MAJOR VICTORY! The Illinois Supreme Court rules pension-slashing SB1 unconstitutional and strongly reaffirms the IFT and our We Are One partners' position that public pensions cannot be diminished or impaired under the Illinois Constitution.
  • The Illinois House overwhelmingly votes "NO" on Rauner's "right-to-work" proposal.
  • During IFT Local Power Week, members learn more about Rauner's wrong priorities and urge lawmakers to support working men and women across Illinois.
  • IFT members successfully urge the Senate Executive Committee to reject legislation that would severely restrict collective bargaining rights.
  • Illinois lawmakers adjourn without passing a FY 2016 budget. Funding for education and essential public services are in serious jeopardy if no agreement is reached by July 1, but governor Rauner refuses to work with House and Senate leaders to pass a budget until his anti-worker "turnaround" agenda demands are met.
  • The State Board of Education names IFT Local 1211 member Steve Elza "2015 Teacher of the Year." Twelve other IFT educators are named Exemplary Teachers.
  • To demonstrate a commitment to fairness and equality, the IFT proudly applauds the U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality
  • IFT and 12 other unions file suit to ensure that state employees continue to be paid on time and in full while FY 2016 budget talks continue.
  • Gov. Rauner proposes pension reforms that would force all workers into the lesser Tier 2 pension plan. This unfair plan would also eliminate collective bargaining rights and enact other anti-worker measures.
  • A State Appellate Court rules in favor of the IFT and other unions, saying state workers must continue to be paid on time and in full under the terms of their collective bargaining agreements, despite the budget impasse.



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