Trying to get recognized at an RA. That’s why I wore the ugly orange sweater. They said they didn’t see me.
For only the second time in over two decades I will not be running for the IEA Representative Assembly.
The first time was as a first year retiree in 2012 when the IEA leadership would not let me on the ballot. They had screwed up the paper work when I tried to transfer my membership from active to retired. By the time the Springfield office figured it all out it was too late to submit my ballot to run state-wide as a retired delegate.
The next year I ran and was elected. People tell me it is unusual to win state-wide on your first try.
I am not running this year. Until active rank-and-file members are tired enough of leadership that is unwilling to end their compliant, anything-to-get-a-seat-at-the-table strategy, my attendance at an RA as a retired delegate seems more and more an existential act.
IEA leaders don’t represent the hundred thousand active members very well. And they sure don’t represent retired members.
The leadership of the IEA is too willing to ignore our interests as retirees. That is what they did when they bargained SB2404 and offered to give away our COLA increases.
Some voices who speak for the leadership even wanted to start a war between IEA Retired and other members of the pension rights coalition.
Former IEA President Bob Haisman never ceases his public attacks on the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. Either the elected leadership agrees with him or they make no attempt to restrain him and his wild accusations.
In either case, the interests of retired teachers in protecting our pensions in Illinois are undermined by this behavior.
Last year when we tried to get a commitment from the RA that IEA leadership would not bargain away what we would soon win from the Illinois Supreme Court, we were stymied by parliamentary maneuvers.
This is an old game the leadership plays in subverting democracy at the RA.
I can recall when in order to be recognized by Ken Swanson at a microphone as an elected delegate from my Park Ridge local, the entire Region 36 delegation had to stand behind me waving their hands.
This can change. It must be changed. For the first time in decades, teacher union membership has fallen below 50% of the teachers in this country. Union survival is threatened by leadership such as this. But active rank-and-file members must be the force to change it.
Retired simply don’t have the numbers or the power.
It is difficult for this retiree to feel I have a home in the IEA anymore other than in my local S.O.R.E. chapter.
I am clearly not alone.
Very few retirees feel compelled to attend the RA. There are only 25 retired members running for the 21 delegate slots. This is the fewest number of candidates running in my memory.
My main advice to retirees would be to withhold their votes from former IEA Presidents Bob Haisman and Ken Swanson. Although they will likely get elected based on name recognition, not voting for them might just send a message to the leadership.
Many retired delegates should recall that it was under Haisman’s watch that we got the disastrous pension ramp and it was under Swanson’s watch that we got the disastrous Tier II. And while SB 7, which took away seniority rights, tenure rights, tied teacher evaluation to student test scores and raised the required strike authorization vote percentage for Chicago teachers, was passed with Cinda Klickna as president, it was bargained by Swanson’s people.
The other development is that for the first time our votes can be cast electronically. Usually less than 2,000 members vote for delegates out of 12,000 or so members state-wide. It will be interesting to see if electronic, rather than mail-in voting, will increase the number of retired members who see a purpose in voting.
I will also be voting for Bob Kaplan, Mae Smith and Pearl Mack.