IEA's Chicago members -- 5,000 strong -- endorse both Bob Fioretti and Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia in latest news at February 24 municipal election draws nearer

The news that the Illinois Education Association, or at least the members of that group in Chicago, was endorsing both major opponents to Rahm Emanuel arrived on February 3, 2015 as Chicago continued digging out from the Blizzard of 2015. The IEA has few members in Chicago (or Cook County), where the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) is strongest because of the 28,000-member Chicago Teachers Union. The IEA has more members across Illinois, while the IFT is dominant in the Chicago area.

For the first time in its history, the Illinois Education Association -- or at least part of it -- has taken a stand in a Chicago Municipal election, endorsing both Alderman Bob Fioretti (above left) and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (above half center) against the dwindling power of incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel (half right). The February 3 IEA announcement, which came from the union's 5,000 Chicago members, is a first. The IEA has traditionally been the teachers union for pre K - 12 teachers outside Chicago (and the Chicago area) while the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) represents the 28,000-member Chicago Teachers Union and other large locals in Chicago and Cook County.THE NEWS WAS BROKEN BY THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES ON THE AFTERNOON OF FEBRUARY 3, 2015

Illinois Education Association's 5,000 Chicago members endorse both Fioretti and Garcia over Emanuel

Posted: 02/03/2015, 03:19pm BY Fran Spielman

Five locals that comprise the Illinois Education Association�s 5,000 Chicago members have taken an �anybody but Rahm� approach to the Feb. 24 mayoral election by endorsing both Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) and County Commissioner Jesus �Chuy� Garcia.

One of Emanuel�s earliest campaign commercials featured City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman.

That�s how proud Emanuel is of his colleges-to-careers makeover of City Colleges and of his plans to build a new, $251 million Malcolm X College to train students for careers in health care and a $42.2 million Transportation, Distribution and Logistics center at Olive Harvey College.

The commercial also touted the mayor�s offer of free City Colleges tuition to Chicago Public School students who graduate with at least a 3.0 grade-point average.

None of that was enough to satisfy the IEA�s 5,000 Chicago members, most of them adjunct professors at City Colleges, Columbia College, Triton College and Morton College.

Instead of supporting Emanuel�s re-election bid, the five Chicago locals endorsed Fioretti and Garcia after both challengers met the group�s criteria of �electability and acceptability,� according to Jim Reed, director of government relations for the Illinois Education Association.

�They found both candidates acceptable on issues they care about: an elected school board, collective bargaining, equal pay for adjuncts, contract negotiations issues,� Reed said.

And why not Emanuel?

�He is opposed to an elected school board,� Reed said.

He added, �It really was not about who they were against. It was about who they wanted to be for and recommend to their members.�

When surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor forced Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis to drop out of the mayor�s race, she talked Garcia into taking her place.

The decision by the IEA�s five Chicago locals to endorse both Garcia and Fioretti could be viewed as a slap at Lewis. But Fioretti considers it more of a blow to Emanuel.

�Who benefited from the [City Colleges] construction? People can see through the programs this administration has been touting as if they�re improvements,� Fioretti said Tuesday.

He added, �This is a large group. Teachers, adjunct professors know I�ve stood by them and their commitment to education. This is just a foretelling of which way they�re gonna vote. I believe I have the support of teachers, firefighters and police across this city. The people who count.�

Steve Mayberry, a spokesman for the Emanuel campaign, had no immediate comment on the IEA�s decision to divide its loyalties between Fioretti and Garcia.

The decision by the IEA�s five Chicago locals to endorse both Garcia and Fioretti could be viewed as a slap at Lewis. But Fioretti considers it more of a blow to Emanuel.