We landed at O’Hare in the middle of a massive summer thunder storm last night.
It was a bumpy ride coming in.
We survived and are back from the annual end of the summer gathering of the family tribe in an old house on a hill overlooking sea and pond on Block Island.
Our mail is on hold, so even if I was still teaching I would not have received the letter from the Illinois Policy Institute, that Bruce Rauner funded stink tank that was one of the groups behind Janus.
In the case of Janus the Supreme Court right-wing anti-union ideological majority ruled against laws that require employees receiving the benefits of a union contract to pay for the service even if they choose not to join.
Having won the day in the Court, IPI wasn’t finished.
Now they’re spending Richard Uihlein’s money on stamps.
Ueihlein is the billionaire owner of the Uline company and has political views that make the Koch brothers seem like liberals.
The stamps will go on the mailing of dog shit to 400,000 Illinois public employees telling them they have the right to quit their union.
If it hasn’t already, a flier will soon be arriving in the mailboxes of many of Illinois’ approximately 400,000 public school teachers, state employees and municipal workers (including police officers and firefighters) informing them that their “legal rights as a government employee have changed.”
It’s an early salvo in what will surely be a protracted battle for the allegiances of union-eligible public workers.
The flier was sent by the Illinois Policy Institute, a self-described free-market think tank with links to billionaires like Dick Uihlein, who are bankrolling campaigns for conservative candidates in Illinois and elsewhere.
“We want to be a resource,” IPI spokesman Eric Kohn said. “About what Janus means, what was decided in the case. What their rights are – their constitutional rights were withheld from them for 40-some years. Now that they’ve been restored, we want to make sure they have all of the information that they need to make the best choice for themselves about whether or not they want to be a part of the union, whether they want to pay money to a union and support a union.”
Some have estimated that public employee unions may lose around 8% of their membership in the wake of Janus.
We will see.
The idea that being a member of a public employee union de facto denies employees of their democratic rights is nonsense.
Not that Richard Uihlein is in any way someone who believes in democracy.
He was one of the money men behind Citizens United and we know how that promoted open democracy.
I was proud of the fact that our teacher local union in Park Ridge elected, not only our local leaders, but we elected our bargaining committee.
Now it is true that the state leadership didn’t always approve of that little section of our local’s by-laws. Most bargaining teams are appointed by the local president.
Not us. Members ran. Members voted.
And I’m proud of the fact that the election of our bargaining team was often a contested one. I, for one, am not big on appointments, unanimous votes and uncontested elections. To me, debate is the hall-mark of democracy.
The leadership of the state union’s disapproval shows that they are not always big believers in democracy either. But doing away with unions is not the solution to that problem.
Doing away with unions just leaves workers disarmed in the face of the Richard Uihleins of the world.
So, my former colleagues will get the IPI mailing this week or next. I guarantee most will throw it away.
Not even 8% will quit the union because they got some junk mail.
A waste of stamps.