Peace through fear.


-By anonymous

It’s totally labor fear.

It has been going on for some time now.

In Chicago and many districts in the collar counties, teachers have had to fight and sometimes strike just to keep what they have, or at least keep their losses to a minimum. Once outside of the collar counties, teachers in many districts have much lower pay scales, their raises have been 1% or so for many years, and a lot of districts never offered the 6% retirement incentives. In the last few years medical insurance premium percentages paid by these teachers have gone up substantially.

At the same time, co-pays, deductibles, and the list of things “not covered” have also increased, all coming out of the teacher’s pay.

These teachers can’t put up a big fight, and don’t dare strike because they can be SB7ed later at the whim of administration. The economy of rural and downstate Illinois is already bad, and ex-teachers can have a difficult time finding other employment.

At least up here in the Chicago/collar county area, ex-teachers usually can find other employment.

So, labor peace is here only because most workers and unions (especially outlying and downstate) are very fearful of losing even more if they go on strike then if they “negotiate” cuts in pay and benefits.

There is little or no sympathy from the general public for us, one store worker I talked to said “the state is spending $14 for every $10 it takes in, it can’t go on like this. Rauner is trying to do something about it, but the Democrats are holding everything up.”

This is going to be a rough 4 years (or more), and we have targets on out backs.

Get it in writing? It is in writing. It’s called the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution.


Senate President John Cullerton.

Michael Madigan’s veto-proof majority in the Illinois House could not override a Rauner veto of the CPS budget bill that would have put $215 million into the hands of the unelected Chicago school board and relieve – at least briefly – the CPS pension debt.

Crain’s Greg Hinz purports to give the inside scoop of what happened last week. He portrays Senate President John Cullerton as the good guy, the honest broker between Madigan and Rauner.

That is arguable.

Everybody is pointing fingers at everybody for the veto and failure to override.

The truth is that Rauner owns this.

As CTU President Karen Lewis told me last week, Rauner cannot be trusted to keep his word about anything

In bargaining a contract with the teachers, the unelected board had cashed a $215 million check before the money was in the bank.

The truth is that Cullerton’s pension reform plan was never going to fly even if the legislature passed it. it would die in the chambers of the Illinois Supreme Court.

It is an attempt to change for the worse the pension obligation that the state has towards current state employees.

Cullerton may truly believe that he could renegotiate the conditions of a pension contract by limiting or diminishing benefits. He may truly believe it would result in a court decision different than Kanerva or SB1.

It wouldn’t.

Some think the problem with all the different versions of what happened last week would have been fixed by having the deal put in writing.

It is in writing.

It’s called the Illinois Constitution.

Keeping retirement weird. How not to fight back in the Trump era.


Fighting back in a time of Rauner and Trump. Low-paid workers strike at O’Hare last week.

Teachers in Skokie District 65 voted to ratify their collective bargaining agreement yesterday. They have been without a contract since August. The vote was 579 in favor and 101 against, according to Paula Zelinski, DEC president.

The details of the CBA will be released to the public following another ratification vote by the District 65 board of education.

I don’t know anything about the results. No matter. I never comment on the results of somebody else’s bargained agreement. I have bargained plenty of them. It is difficult stuff.  These are difficult times. I hope the teachers did okay.

And teacher contracts are mainly about local stuff.


It is getting close to Winter break and to my knowledge there has not been a single teachers strike in the state of Illinois where there are roughly 600 school districts with way more than that many contracts. I would guess maybe a third expired and had to be bargained this past year.

I follow this stuff pretty closely and I can’t recall a year in recent history without at least a couple of teacher strikes in Illinois in the Fall.

No strikes.

Is that a sign of labor peace or labor fear?

Every situation has its own particularities. Nobody likes a teachers’ strike. Certainly not teachers. But it is a part of the process and once in a while a strike is needed.

Maybe just not this year.

Or maybe it is a sign of fear and playing defense in the era of Rauner and Trump.

Like the Carrier deal, which allows hundred of jobs to get sent to Mexico, but maybe keeps the Indiana plant open for a while.

Sarah Palin called it crony capitalism. I don’t even know what the hell she is talking about. What kind of capitalism isn’t crony capitalism these days?

Bernie Sanders was way more accurate when he wrote that it gives permission for every corporation to demand a bribe to keep from moving to cheaper labor.

The United Steelworkers Union, which represents the Carrier workers, applauded the deal even though they weren’t consulted and hadn’t seen the details. Democrats called for 800 more deals just like it. And the national media got played by Trump once again.

I’m thinking about the last week in the Illinois legislature where on consecutive days the House failed to override a veto by Rauner, our little Trump, of a budget agreement for CPS but passed a bailout for ComEd.

Progressive friends – and they are friends – tell me that the bill contains money for green technologies and needed changes to regulations which we wouldn’t have gotten if we didn’t give ComEd the bailout.

What I know is that in a state that can’t pay its bills, that doesn’t begin to raise enough revenue to keep its public schools from being last in the nation in state school funding, where retired public employees have had to spend hundred of thousands of dollars for legal fees to protect our contractual and constitutionally guaranteed pensions, which hasn’t had a budget in two years, legislators just gave ComEd a bailout.

I’m sure there were good intentions. But the road to hell may well be lit by by the solar power of good intentions.

Some of this is just old news. Same old same old.

Or maybe we are seeing a trend in fighting Raunerism and Trumpism.

I don’t believe we can win this way.

Resisting Trumpism is going to be difficult but all the more necessary at a time when union leaders and Democrats are saying we should give Trump a chance and corporate bailouts are called wins by even progressive legislators.

Betsy DeVos and a national system of market-based schools. The only problem would be stupid parents.


Trumps choice of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is a terrible one for the country’s parents and students.

Naturally, for most of those who want an end to public schools and a national system of market-based education, the DeVos choice is a gift.

It does appear that it has caused a bit of a kerfluffle among the market-based crowd who fear that Betsy’s extremism may scare away some from their movement.

It is a polite debate among thieves.

Jason Crye is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

The anti-school choice crowd, of course, opposes DeVos. In Florida, some teachers are already planning protests to decry DeVos’s nomination. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have condemned the choice, too.

We might expect criticism from teacher’s unions and other anti-school choice groups, but not from fellow education reformers. And yet some of them have been quick to join the chorus.

Some reject DeVos merely because she is willing to join the Trump cabinet. According to them, anyone who supports Trump is a misogynist and bigot.

That’s simplistic and unfair.

Crye says that the only problem with market-based schools is stupid parents who make bad choices.

A slightly less radical criticism of DeVos centers on school regulation. In an op-ed the New York Times rushed to print, Douglas N. Harris chastised her for designing Detroit’s charter school system to run like the “wild west.” Harris claims that choice can work only within a regulatory framework that somehow guarantees quality schools. As a free market loving Republican, DeVos doesn’t approach the issue that way. But that doesn’t make her an outlaw in a black hat.

For those of us who believe in giving parents power, free markets are a good thing. Some parents may make mistakes in choosing schools—but that’s part of being free, as Americans have always known. Bringing in a flock of pedantic regulators can’t eliminate risk; it just creates other problems while eroding people’s liberty.

The problem for those who want choice and charters but who are afraid of the extremism of Crye and DeVos, too bad.

Trump and DeVos are in charge.

Trump’s Carrier hocus pocus. Sanders says it stinks. AFL CIO is quiet. UPDATED: Steelworkers union supports Trump/Carrier deal.


The silent AFL CIO President Richard Trumka.

This is the corporate scam we have seen time and again. A corporation employing hundreds or thousands of people threatens to move to another state – usually one with right-to-work-for-nothing laws – or to Mexico or China and local state government throws every tax break they got at them to get them to stay.

Often, a year later they close anyway. Or cut wages. Or go after the union.

With Trump’s announcement that he saved Carrier production in Indiana, we see the practice expanding as a national economic policy.

Note: Most of the United Technology/Carrier jobs in Indiana are still moving to Mexico.

Despite the cheers Mr. Trump received as he walked around the factory floor, where the lines continued to run and he had to shout at times to be heard, another 1,000 workers for the company in Indiana will be losing their jobs.

This includes 700 at a United Technologies factory in nearby Huntington, as well as several hundred here. The 800 or so jobs that are being preserved are mostly on the lines that build medium- and high-efficiency gas furnaces.

Bernie Sanders got it right in his Washington Post op-ed.

In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country.

President-elect Donald Trump and vice president-elect Pence have convinced air conditioning manufacturer Carrier to keep 1,000 jobs at its Indianapolis, Ind. plant instead of moving them to Mexico. This is a major publicity score for Trump who had previously criticized Carrier and other manufacturers on the campaign trail. But putting pressure on individual businesses doesn’t make for a winning long term strategy. 

Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren’t thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be reevaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America?

The working class of America.  

Apparently the shock waves didn’t find their way to AFl-CIO headquarters where President Richard Trumka has yet to comment.

Not even a Tweet.

Trumka was quick to side with those building the pipeline at Standing Rock, but has lost his voice on this corporate black mail.


(Pittsburgh) — The United Steelworkers (USW) today said it is pleased that Carrier Corp. has decided to retain nearly 1,000 of the 1,400 manufacturing jobs that it planned to move from Indianapolis to Mexico beginning in 2017. The union looks forward to learning the details of the proposed deal, whose jobs will be saved and how much production will remain in Indiana.

“The dedicated USW members in Indianapolis who build quality heating equipment for Carrier deserve credit for bringing the union’s fight to save their jobs to the attention of the nation during the 2016 presidential campaign,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

“The details are yet to be known, but America needs good-paying, family-sustaining jobs. We thank President-elect Trump for listening to our members and following through on his campaign pledge to persuade Carrier to keep production of quality heating equipment in Indianapolis.”

“We also appreciate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ efforts in keeping this issue on the front burner,” said USW District 7 Director Mike Millsap.

During the campaign, the president-elect spoke out vigorously for the need to bring jobs back home, to invest in domestic manufacturing, take a hard line with trading partners and reform our nation’s failed trade practices. The USW shares those goals.

The USW has long fought, and will keep fighting in both Republican and Democratic administrations, for government policies to promote and support domestic manufacturing and the interests of working people.

“America’s manufacturing sector was once the path to middle class prosperity and has been the envy of the world. But, for too long, it has had to compete against unfair trade practices and flawed trade policies that have promoted outsourcing and offshoring,” said USW International Vice President Tom Conway.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries, including metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, mining and the service and public sectors.  For more information:

Governor Rauner vetoes CPS budget agreement. “We know Trump,” says CTU President Karen Lewis. “We’ve had Rauner for two years.”

Karen Lewis

“We know Trump,” said CTU President Karen Lewis to me today shortly after Governor Rauner suddenly vetoed the budget agreement that would have sent $215 million to Chicago Public Schools. “We’ve had two years of practice and rehearsal with Rauner,” said the CTU President.

“This comes as no surprise to me. Only a fool would think Rauner would keep his word about anything.”

SB 2822 passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly on November 7th with the Governor’s approval and a promise to sign.

The bill provided $215 million to the Chicago teachers pension fund.

Now in less then a month the Governor has changed his mind, vetoed the bill and an override is unlikely.

Crain’s Greg Hinz is reporting that the Governor’s veto should have no impact on the contract that was just bargained and approved by both the CTU membership and the unelected CPS school board.

Karen Lewis didn’t agree.

“The money has to come from somewhere,” Lewis said. “Listen. He is just running for re-election now. He has no interest in solving problems. He is just interested in creating them.”