Teacher Union Power Failure in Illinois

The Editorial Staff of the Chicago Tribune recounts the tale of Despite pouring forced-dues  dollars into their campaigns, teacher union bosses’  were not able to elect their hand-picked politicians in primaries across the state.  Illinois teachers may still be forced to pay tribute to these union bosses, but that situation could change in the future.

Efforts by organized labor to defeat candidates who supported pension reform largely failed around the state. The Chicago Teachers Union onslaught against state Rep. Christian Mitchell of Chicago, who supported the pension bill, failed. Adam Johnson of Warrenville, the Illinois Education Association-backed candidate against state Rep. Jeanne Ives, lost. Amanda Mancke of Oswego, the IEA’s pick in the open 97th House District, lost to reformer Mark Batinick of Plainfield.The Illinois Federation of Teachers and state labor groups went all in for Nancy Schiavone in Chicago’s 40th House District race. She lost to Rep. Jaime Andrade, who voted for pension reform.

Even in Southern Illinois — strong union territory — voters nominated straight-talking fiscal reformer Reginald “Reggie” Phillips of Charleston for the 110th House District over the more heavily union-backed candidate, Darrell Cox.

This is a good sign at the right time. With the primary over, members of the General Assembly need to focus on saving the pension systems for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools. Chicago’s pension funds for its firefighters and police are among the most dangerously underfunded in the state.

Please take note: The city of Chicago just borrowed another $883 million, a few weeks after it suffered a Moody’s Investors Service bond downgrade to three notches above junk status.

Independence was rewarded, too. In Chicago, challenger Will Guzzardi soundly defeated Rep. Toni Berrios — and by extension her heavy-hitter supporters, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios. Guzzardi had the support of unions and independent aldermen.

And while that was embarrassing to Madigan, it was trumped by another Madigan defeat. Rep. Derrick Smith — who faces federal bribery charges, who was expelled from the House but re-elected, who despite all that was backed to the hilt by Madigan — lost on Tuesday.

That was a relief, as was the defeat of convicted former Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers, who was running for a Cook County Board seat.

For the future of this state, heartening results all around.