I was an elected delegate to the IEA state Representative Assembly for many years.
At each RA there would inevitably be a motion made calling for our teacher pension fund to pursue a political issue.
Selective boycotts and selective investments.
Some of the issues I agreed with and some I didn’t. But the view of the delegates – a view I was sympathetic to – was that our pension fund should be invested in such as way as to earn the best return. If I wanted to engage in socially conscious investments of my own, saving in ways that served a cause I believed in, that was my perogative.
But that all ended in 2015 when State Senator Ira Silverstein sponsored a bill that prohibited any of the state pension funds from investing in companies that supported BDS, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.
Here was a state senator proposing a bill directing how my pension fund should be invested, regardless of its impact on my retirement savings. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers of the Illinois Legislature. In the Senate the bill passed 49-0.
I heard no objections from state teacher union leaders.
It takes an amazing level of chutzpah to underfund the pensions, cut our benefits and then propose a bill that uses our pension to pursue your own pro-Israel agenda.
Illinois public employee pensions are the most underfunded pension funds in the country.
This is because the Illinois legislature refused to pay into them what they are required to pay.
Illinois State Senator Ira Siverstein now wants to use them to pursue a foreign policy agenda of support for Israel.
You are probably saying, “What?”
Last year Senator Ira Silverstein was defeated in his attempt to defund Illinois public colleges and universities if even one employee supported the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
I support Guzzardi on this bill.
I expect State Senator Ira Silverstein to support it in the Senate.
I also want the Illinois legislature to fully fund our pensions as they promised and failed to do.
But they opened this barn door of selective pension investments and it is too late to shut it now.
“I represent a predominantly Latino district and there are a lot of undocumented families in my district, a lot of (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) families, whose children came over when they were very young. They haven’t even been to Mexico since they were 6 months old, and Donald Trump is talking about deporting them,” Guzzardi said.
“That’s very scary. That’s very scary to the families in my neighborhood and frankly scary for everyone who lives in our community.”
Yes it is.
And we are in the Trump era.
The rules have changed.