News-WatchThere’s an old joke about a man receiving a diagnosis from his psychiatrist:

“I’ve got good news. You’re not paranoid. Someone really is out to get you!”

No, this isn’t another column about Bruce (I love teachers, I hate their advocacy) Rauner.

No, this is about the faceless folks behind a campaign intended to convince members of public employee unions, especially IEA and IFT, to help weaken the union’s ability to fight off attacks from anti-union, anti-public education groups such as the National Right to Work Foundation (NRTWF) and the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI).

Of course, NRTWF and IPI are behind this campaign, which includes airing radio ads on rural stations, sending emails to school mailboxes and, more recently, sending letters to members’ homes via the U.S. mail.

The message the union-haters are delivering to union members is, “You should quit the union or, at least, stop funding your union’s political activity.”

These groups, along with the Koch brothers and others, want to kill the unions because they want:

  • A state in which those who work in our schools have no voice over teaching and learning conditions.
  • A state where employees could be fired at the whim of supervisors without a hearing.
  • A state in which teachers or other public employees get no pension at all.

In short, their goal is to do to Illinois what the Koch brothers did to Wisconsin, only worse. IEA and the other public employee unions are standing in their way.

Interestingly, these dissemblers use some of the same terminology as candidate Rauner. He wails about “union bosses,” conjuring up images of cigar smoking, pot-bellied guys in suits, their pockets stuffed with taxpayer dollars.

This is what an IEA “union boss” looks like:

Cinda Klickna
President
Kathi Griffin
Vice President
Al Llorens
Secretary Treasurer

And you can see a whole bunch of “union bosses” here.

Of course, we in the union tend to think of them as democratically elected leaders who work to support issues that benefit educators and students statewide. Interestingly, that’s generally what the people who actually know them think as well.

These  anti-union, anti-education groups hope to trick our members into withdrawing their support from IEA and our political action committee, IPACE.

Fight back

Every IEA member needs to understand that the National Right to Work foundation, IPI and the rest:

  • Want to strip them of their rights,
  • Want to eliminate their pensions,
  • Want to privatize public education.

Facts are the best antidote to the horse manure these folks are spreading. Talk with your union bosses local leaders. Check the IEA website, Facebook page and Twitter feeds.

Here’s a good rule to live by: When you read any information about your leaders, consider the source.

Does the statement come from an organization or person who wants IEA to be successful, or is it from an anti-union source, or someone with an ax to grind?

But, back to the NRTWF and the letters to IEA members’ homes.

The NRTWF’s scam includes a postage-paid envelope the member is supposed to provide information to help these groups in their fight to eliminate employee rights.

Every envelope that is sent back costs the NRTWF money.

IEA Union boss board member Annice Brave made great use of the solicitation mailed to her southern Illinois home.

Where they asked for her statement of support, she gave them something else.

AnnicePostcardSideOne1_21_2014

And Annice was more than happy to return their envelope at their expense.

AnnicePostcardSideTwo1_21_2014

Our opponents — NRTWF, IPI, the Koch Brothers, Bruce Rauner, are all deeply committed to their cause.

They wish us dead.

We need to be every bit as committed to stopping them from destroying public education and from silencing the unions that are standing up for middle class families throughout Illinois.

Getting involved can begin with an act as simple as mailing back a letter. But it will take an all-out effort from all members to stop this incredibly well-funded attack.

Get ready.