We Stand Up. We Fight Back!

Several of you have already received mail at your home from the Illinois Policy Institute. Please take a few moments to read through the important information below.

UFEA Members:

Earlier this summer, we provided you with an important update following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request from the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) to the District. If you didn’t get a chance to see that update yet, please take a few moments to read it now.

The IPI and their partners have been engaged in an all-out assault on public education, public employees, and public employee unions. The IPI is part of the State Policy Network, and includes their political advocacy arm (The Illinois Opportunity Project), legal arm (The Liberty Justice Center), their “news”/content provider arm (The Illinois News Network – INN), and a series of “non-profits”. The IPI and their partners been funded by wealthy donors like Bruce Rauner, Betsy DeVos, and others who see the potential for major profit in education and the prospect of political power that comes by disarming public employee unions.

You can learn more about the IPI and their “news” in this brief video produced by IEA:

So, about the mail you received …

We warned you back in June you would likely be receiving mail from the IPI as part of a well-funded, all-out effort to encourage members to drop their membership.

source: UFEA Member Tyler McWhorter

We’re certain the IPI used the list of employees provided by the District, and combined that with mailing lists they’ve likely purchased, in order to get the home addresses of UFEA members.

The day after the Janus vs. AFSCME decision was delivered by the US Supreme Court, the IPI began their efforts, purchasing a series of website domain names and urging members to drop their union membership. That should be no surprise to anyone.

Their efforts have now continued – and the mail you likely just received is the next phase of their attack. They’re spending a lot of time and money to make it easy for you to drop your union membership. You might want to ask yourself why (hint: it’s not because they think you dropping your membership will benefit you!).

You can learn more about the IPI’s most recent effort to get Union members to drop their membership via a misinformation campaign in this brief news video from WTTW:

We expect these attacks to continue.

Our opponents are well-funded and have an agenda. In fact, their efforts likely won’t stop with sending mail to your home. Don’t be surprised to see billboards and advertisements, to hear ads on the radio, or even to have one of their folks show up at your home (get a free window cling here: strongerunitedillinois.org)

We know that the ultimate goal of the IPI and their partners was not to win the Janus vs. AFSCME case. That was only the beginning. They’d like to see public education decimated so it can be privatized and profit-ized. And they’d like to see those who stand in their way politically – primarily public employee unions – de-funded and de-fanged, so they can accomplish more of their political agenda, an agenda that will benefit the wealthy and further hurt the middle class.

So, what can you do? What can we do?

You can ignore the IPI’s mail and misinformation.

You can post a picture of the mail you receive on social media and include a hashtag (#SayGoodbyeToIPI #solidarity #IEAstronger #StrongerUnited #StickingWithMyUnion).

You can send it back “return to sender”.

Or you can get it to the UFEA/IEA office (drop it off yourself or get it to your building rep) and we’ll assemble a “care package” and send them back to the IPI.

You can submit information about what you received in our Membership Protection Center, and learn more about these opponents, at proudieamember.org.

You can learn more about these attacks, why we’re being targeted, and what you/we can do to fight back by visiting strongerunitedillinois.org.

You can reaffirm your commitment to UFEA and the IEA. If you want to do that in writing, just let us know, or send us a note.

You can share this information with your colleagues. It’s a busy time of year and it’s good to be reminded of important information by your colleagues.

If you have questions, you can reach out to a building rep or other UFEA leader.

If you’d like to have a building meeting to discuss these issues, you can work with your building rep to make that happen. And if you’e like a building visit from your president, Lindsey Dickinson, to talk with your staff that can be scheduled as well!

More than anything, you can stick by each other, and stand with each other.

As we told you earlier this summer, when the IPI contacts you, they will be encouraging you to drop your union membership. 

When the IPI and other opponents contact you, they won’t tell you why you should be a member.

They won’t be sharing with you the benefits of membership. They won’t tell you your union gives you a strong collective voice, provides liability insurance, reimbursement for legal fees, advice on all sorts of work related matters and free professional development clock hours. Or that you can get all sorts of discounts, including at Target, on your cell phone bill, your car insurance, travel and more.

They won’t tell you that unions have played a critical role in building and protecting the middle class in America, providing hard-working people economic stability for their families and giving them the tools to build a good life, home and education for themselves and their children.

They won’t tell you unions raise wages for both union and nonunion workers, or that we advocate for policies that benefit all working people such as increases to the minimum wage, affordable health care and great public schools.

They won’t tell you that through collective bargaining, members of strong unions are scoring victories that help entire communities.

And, they won’t tell you that when individuals drop their membership, not only does the individual lose out on benefits, but the union is weaker. It makes it harder for us to stand united and fight for our students, our schools, our paychecks and our benefits.

They didn’t tell you that in the mail they sent to you. And they won’t tell you that. So we are.

When they contact you — when you get mail, see billboards, hear advertising and negative messages, or when they show up at your door — remember that we are Stronger United.

We’ll continue to keep you informed. And, we’ll be continuing to fight for you — and with you — today, and in the future.

Thank you for the work you do – for our students, for our schools, and for each other as part of UFEA.

It continues to be my privilege to represent the members of UFEA because educators are some of the most important people in the world, doing some of the most important work in the world.  

On behalf of UFEA leadership, and in solidarity as we anchor each other so we can more effectively be an anchor for our students, 

Lindsey Dickinson

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