CLINTON INITIATIVE PRAISES UNION PENSION INVESTMENTS AFT President Randi Weingarten had a chance to brag a little about the positive impact that union pension fund investments are having on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. She also discussed the AFT’s work in areas such as career and technical education and rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, at the winter meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. Weingarten was part of a powerful lineup of leaders from business, philanthropy and global organizations in a Feb. 10 plenary session that looked at the future of initiatives to meet a variety of challenges around the world. President Bill Clinton, who moderated the session, recognized Weingarten at the end of the session for her work with CGI and a variety of other unions to direct some of the $2 trillion of union pension assets into investments that upgrade our nation’s infrastructure and create good jobs. To date, Weingarten reported, $14 billion in union pension funds has been invested in infrastructure projects that have created up to 140,000 jobs.
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR ATTACKS UNIONS The Illinois Federation of Teachers calls Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Feb. 9 executive order blocking thousands of state employees from paying fair share fees a “blatant abuse of power.” Illinois has “big financial problems, and the new governor’s ideological and illegal attacks on working families aren’t the way to solve them,” says IFT President Daniel Montgomery, who is an AFT vice president. Rauner also announced he has filed suit in federal court to have fair share provisions declared unconstitutional. Fair share fees are payments required of individuals who receive the pay and other contractual benefits negotiated by the union but who choose not to join. “Gov. Rauner’s first actions have been brazen, out-of-touch attacks on the middle class and the unions that give them a collective voice,” Montgomery says.
UUP PUSHES BACK AGAINST EFFORTS TO PRIVATIZE SUNY HOSPITALS United University Professions President Frederick Kowal weighed in against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget, testifying at a joint legislative budget hearing that it “continues a trend of the state’s disinvestment in public higher education.” Of particular concern to UUP and other public employee unions is the budget’s weakening support for SUNY’s public hospitals. “Once again,” Kowal said, “the governor is attempting to privatize our SUNY hospitals by allowing corporations to own and operate these facilities.”
WALKER SIGNS RIGHT-TO-WORK BILL Gov. Scott Walker’s signing of a so-called right-to-work bill in Wisconsin on March 9 is just the latest example of his willingness to do anything to tear down workers, AFT President Randi Weingarten says. “During his campaign for governor, Scott Walker promised not to amp up his attacks on workers,” she says. “But when he decided to run for president, he kicked that commitment to the curb. ...” In a two-week period, he “compared working people to ISIS, celebrated President Reagan’s bust of the air traffic controller strike as a ‘significant foreign policy decision,’ and ... signed into law a bill that will drive down wages, destroy good jobs and break the backs of unions. By his actions and statements, Walker has revealed that his plan to win the Republican nomination is a willingness to say and do anything to attack and tear down workers. It’s cynical and sad, and will ultimately fail.”