Springfield out to weaken collective bargaining rights

by , posted on Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 at 11:52 pm

The war on the middle class continues to be waged on both sides of the aisle.  This is less of a comprehensive blog about the topic and more of a call to action.  After America more or less lost our manufacturing base and moved to a service economy that exports bad debt as our main source of GDP, Wall Street types decided to start making profits off of government services.  In Illinois, this means that the fight to protect our education system from Wall Street profiteers is on.  An Oregon-based organization is pushing legislation that will deter the best and brigthest from teaching and ultimately enter Illinois’ schools into the race to the bottom.

State Representative Keith Farnham, an Elgin Democrat, is holding a town hall forum at the Gail Borden Public Library (270 N. Grove St., Elgin, IL) on Wednesday, Dec. 29th at 7:00 p.m.

Representative Farnham is on the education committee and it is important that he hear from teachers, parents and community activists before returning to Springfield in January.  It is believed that this legislation is being put together in a hurry and that it is part of a backroom deal (Republicans will get a large part of their anti-middle class agenda in exchange for a tax increase).  It is expected to pass before January 11th, 2011 (when the new assembly takes office).

This bill does not have an official number yet, but here is a screen capture of part of the copy that I obtained.  Click the pic to read the most significant part.  Click the link to read the entire bill.

The bill is an anti-union piece of legislation that a wealthy, Oregon-based organization named “Stand for Children” is pushing.  The organization should be named, “Stand for Billionaires who want to turn schools into for-profit institutions.”  Honestly, they are dropping some serious coin into Illinois political races.  Representative Farnham is one of the top recipients of the Oregon-based campaign cash.  According to the Illinois State Board of Elections Website, Farnham received a $50,000 contribution of from the organization and another $50,000 from the organization’s CEO.  Here are screen captures from the Illinois State Board of Elections Website.

This is symptomatic of the broken pay-to-play political system that we have in Illinois.  As legislators play the continuous “re-election game” and balance legislative choices between wealthy contributors and the electorate, it is important that we show up and let them know where the electorate stands.

The fact that an Oregon-based front group can seemingly buy an Illinois State Representative should be alarming to all of us.  What kind of lesson does this send to our children?  More importantly, what impact will this legislation have on Illinois children?  I found an assessment on the Chicago Teachers Union website and I think it is fairly accurate.

“SFC plans to steamroll us, and will mow down students and families in the way.  This is a formula for turning our schools into low-wage, high-turnover places of employment.  SFC’s agenda hurts children on many levels.  Few of us will want to be career teachers.  Families will no longer be able to bond with teachers over decades and students will no longer have teachers invested in them or the community.  This system would squelch innovation and motivate teachers to teach to the test rather than encourage creative, critical thinking. We need to stop them (SFC) and push for REAL reform.”

I am doing this as part of the Living Wage for Illinois Coalition.  Our second action to support labor’s right to collectively bargain for fair wages will be a trip to Springfield to lobby all of our state legislators on this legislation.  While no date is set yet, we are looking at the first week of January.  Let me know if you want to come with us by calling 630.878.7454.


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