(via the Illinois Federation of Teachers)
As I write this column, I honestly have to say that I have never have felt more excited about our union and our members than I do right now. Everywhere I look in the IFT, I see our union in action. I can feel the power and energy, and it’s stronger than ever before. I could feel it at the IFT Convention in October, when hundreds of delegates from locals statewide gathered to set the policies and direction of our union. Their commitment to the work ahead – including passing a Fair Tax constitutional amendment and ousting Trump and DeVos in 2020 – was inspiring. After thoughtful, thorough debate, the body passed important resolutions addressing everything from the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our unions to a commitment to support immigrant students to going green. (Read more about convention on pages 4-5.) It was crystal clear that IFT members are determined to fulfill our vision and create the future we all deserve. I see that same commitment around the state in our local unions. At press time, thousands of members had been forced to the picket lines to fight for what kids need and professionals deserve, no matter the personal cost. Teachers and staff in the Chicago Teachers Union (Local 1) won historic gains for schools and students by walking out for 11 days in October. The Grayslake Federation of Teachers (Local 504) hit the lines for a day in a successful fight for fair pay. The mid-managers at Triton College (who are members of the Cook County College Teachers Union, Local 1600) were continuing to bargain with a stubborn administration after a one-day strike. And the Decatur Federation of Teaching Assistants (Local 4324) had walked out for three days in their ongoing struggle for affordable healthcare. Several other locals nearly walked out, but reached agreements after showing management they were strike-ready. This commitment to our students, schools, and one another is what our union is all about! I wish you could have seen the solidarity when striking CTU teachers and paras came to Decatur! It was one of the most emotional and inspiring acts I have ever seen as a unionist. It’s amazing to see the power generated when members come together to demand what is right and necessary for kids and ourselves. These actions are inspiring others throughout Illinois and the nation — solidarity is contagious. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” That’s exactly what our locals and members are doing. I feel privileged to play a part in it. During the recent IFT Convention, I was honored to be reelected to lead this union for another three years. I thank you for the opportunity to continue the important work we’re doing. We have the energy. We have the edge. Let’s get the job done in the only way we know how – together.
In gratitude and solidarity, Dan Montgomery | IFT President