Q: You’re running as a retired delegate to the IEA Representative Assembly?
A: I’ve been elected as a delegate for over twenty years. Except last year when the Springfield office of the IEA lost my paperwork moving my active membership to retired membership. But, yes. I sent my nomination form to President Klickna by certified mail yesterday.
Q: What’s the process?
A: It’s easy, really. Retired members can fill out the application that’s on the last page of the current IEA Advocate. It is also available online. Active teachers who are members of the IEA can run as a delegate from their local. Most IEA Regions run those elections and they are on a later cycle than the Retired. But many delegate slots go unfilled.
Q: What’s with that?
A: I don’t know. I get lots of emails and comments from IEA members who are concerned about the direction of our Association, but I don’t see them at the RA. Ever since we got the leadership to stop holding the RA at the scab Hyatt in Rosemont the RA has been in downtown Chicago. It’s not a bad place to spend a couple of days in March. We can go out for a couple of beers at Miller’s Pub after the sessions.
Q: I’ve heard you have a personal thing about President Klickna.
A: Funny. Because I don’t really know Cinda Klickna other than through some conversations we’ve had at meetings. What I’m concerned with is policy and practice of our union leadership, both elected and unelected.
Q: Can you be specific?
A: Just take the interview that she gave to the Springfield Journal-Register, where she says that the primary concern of the IEA is not the well-being of teachers, but rather it is the improvement of education. To me, this is an amazing distinction for our Association President to make. I believe that the best working conditions ARE the best teaching and learning conditions. The well-being of teachers is not an obstacle to improving education. It is the foundation of improving education.
Furthermore, this attempt to distance our Association from being a strong advocate for collective bargaining is just what I heard coming from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel at the NEA Representative Assembly last July in Atlanta.
I reported on his speech to the retirees on my blog and the leadership set their dogs on me. But the message keeps coming through.
Q: Klickna mentioned PERA, the Performance Evaluation Reform Act, as an example of something the union takes pride in getting passed in Illinois. Should the union take pride in PERA?
A: Ask that of the IEA delegate at the NEA RA who was sitting in front of me. A PE teacher for 8 years, he no longer has any job protection as a result of PERA and Senate Bill 7, which the IEA leadership collaborated with Stand for Children to get passed.
As an active union member in his building, he has not exactly won the love of his principal. Although he has seniority over two other PE teachers, he correctly fears that his principal will show him the door.
This is going on all over the state.
Q: Your plan?
A: I think those of us involved in the fight for schools, pensions and teachers’ collective bargaining rights have to have an inside strategy and an outside strategy. By that I mean that on things like pensions and school closings we need to unite with whoever we can to defeat the corporate agenda. But we also need to organize ourselves within our Association and demand better leaders. It only weakens the fight against the corporate school agenda when our leaders don’t have the fire in their belly to utter the word, “NO.”