SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The labor unions, with sagging membership and low public approval ratings, are determined to improve their public image.
And they want to start by winning over the hearts and minds of the most naïve and impressionable group of citizens they can find – innocent school children.
State Sen. Michael Hastings, a Chicagoland Democrat, has introduced Senate Bill 2682, which would mandate all Illinois public school students learn “the history of organized labor in America and the collective bargaining process.”
The law already requires students to learn “the role of labor unions and their interaction with government in achieving the goals of a mixed free enterprise system.”
Does Hastings really believe this stuff should be taught in classrooms, or is he simply doing the bidding of his sponsors.
In 2012, Hastings received at least $14,500 in election contributions from school labor unions, including:
- American Federation of Teachers Local 604 – $6,000
- Illinois Federation of Teachers – West Suburban – $4,500
- Chicago Teachers Union PAC – $4,000
And if Hastings really does believe these lessons are crucial, what does he base his argument on?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2012, only 14.6 percent of the Illinois workforce belongs to a union. In 2011 that rate was 16.2 percent.
Why do Illinois legislators want to force teachers and students to waste precious learning time on a topic that would theoretically never apply to 85.4 percent of the students?
The logical guess is that organized labor wants to make a comeback in the state, and the best way is to convince the younger generation that unions are always noble and good.
In 2011, EAGnews released a video obtained from the California Department of Education, which promotes the type of bare knuckle collective bargaining that takes place in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The school district and union produced the video to share with students as part of the state-mandated labor history lessons.
Similar laws exist in Wisconsin while a perennial attempt is made to introduce labor history into Connecticut. Observers there tell EAGnews they anticipate a similar proposal being introduced in the upcoming legislative session.