Teachers' union endorses Hynes for governor

December 7, 2009 4:40:16 PM PST
A powerful teachers' union is endorsing Democrat Dan Hynes for governor. The Illinois Federation of Teachers is promising money and workers to help him win the February 2 primary. The IFT political fund has deep pockets, and the union can provide thousands of campaign workers for state comptroller Dan Hynes, who is challenging Governor Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary.

"This is a proud day for me...to receive the endorsement of the Illinois Federation of Teachers," said Hynes.

With a promise of money and campaign troops for Hynes, the IFT's statewide leader praised the comptroller's stand against a two-tiered retirement plan for teachers and other public employees to reduce the state's long-term debt.

"The second tier does nothing to solve the 75 billion dollars hole that the state has dug itself into," said John Murphy, Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Under the two-tiered system, teachers and state workers hired in the future would receive fewer benefits than those already on the job. Comptroller Hynes blamed past administrations in Springfield for the billions in unfunded pension obligations.

"It's not because teachers weren't paying their money in. It's because the state of Illinois wasn't paying their money in," said Hynes.

Governor Pat Quinn supports a two-tiered system as the centerpiece of his long-term effort to save money on pension payments.

"I have the fortitude to get into the arena and say we need fundamental public pension reform," said Gov. Quinn.

On the Republican side, all seven contenders support fewer benefit payouts for future teachers and state employees. Candidate Dan Proft called the current system a "political scam."

"The Chicago Democrats provide secure jobs and guaranteed pensions to public sector patronage armies and in exchange for that they get the get the political support they need to keep their offices," Proft said.

Hynes is the only major candidate for governor who would keep the current public employee pension system intact and called it especially useful for attracting teachers. "There is a financial incentive to being in teaching and that is a secure retirement. And it is that retirement that is the only thing that will keep people in the profession of teaching," said Hynes.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers counts 103,000 members, including the Chicago teachers union that serves the Chicago Public Schools. This clearly was the most important union endorsement so far for the Hynes campaign.

Governor Quinn also got a big endorsement Monday. A group of African-American politicians from the state and Chicago's West Side threw their support for Quinn. Congressman Danny Davis and several Chicago aldermen gathered at the office of alderman Emma Mitts of the 37th Ward to make the endorsement.


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