Dear Members and Supporters,

Our IFT representative Andrew has reached out to us with a call to action. On December 3rd–no coincidence that the state legislature picked a date that is after their election petitions are due and in the midst of the busy holiday season–they will vote on a bill that will gut pensions for unionized state employees. Although we don’t have all the details yet, reports indicate that the bill will:

Cap pensions for all employees, regardless of years of service;
Reduce cost of living adjustments;
Raise the retirement age;
And reduce benefits employees have already paid for.

While GEO members will not be affected by the bill, every single unionized state employee will be affected, including our brothers and sisters in UF and SEIU, as well as firefighters and police officers. And, if all of isn’t grim enough, these are usually the sorts of bills that get passed right before the legislature goes for a right-to-work bill, as we saw in Wisconsin just a few years before. Let’s make it clear what kind of trouble they’ll be in if they even *think* about union-busting in Illinois.

We recognize that Illinois needs to balance its budget, but they can’t do it on the backs of workers!

So, all of us need to do three things:

Call (888) 412-6570 and follow the prompts to speak with your state Representative and Senator. Tell them you oppose any legislation opposed by IFT, and that you will be paying attention to their vote.
Tell everyone you know about this. The consequences of a bill like this are far-reaching. Not only will many unionized employees at UIC be affected, but, throughout the state, workers will find their ability to retire (or, if they are already retired, their comfort) severely impacted. We need to stand up to the state on this issue.
Mark December 2 on your calendars: the IFT will be calling for a day of action–details will come out as soon as I have them.
I do wish I could provide more details of the bill, but the legislature is (for good reason) keeping it under tight wraps. As soon as I have more definitive information, I’ll send it out.

Please send this (or a condensed version of it) out to your colleagues and friends. Let’s show Springfield what happens when they threaten unions!

SOLIDARITY!

As graduate employees for the University of Illinois at Chicago we are in a unique position. We are not only responsible for our own knowledge acquisition, but also the erudition of others. Many of us interact with undergraduate students; we hold office hours, answer student emails, teach courses, grade assignments, recruit and advise students on a regular basis. Many of us have designated parts of our lives to support the education of UIC’s undergraduate students but we sometimes overlook what our undergraduates have to teach us.

Lulu Martinez is currently a UIC student and is a long-time community leader. She is one of the several undocumented students at UIC who have been working to create a more inclusive space for ALL UIC students, including those who are undocumented.

Due to Lulu’s “undocumented status”, she has been unable to visit and meet many of her family members who reside in Tlalnepantla, Mexico- her birthplace. Aware of the risks, Lulu and two other undocumented activists, Marco Saavedra and Lizbeth Mateo, voluntarily departed the U.S. and flew across the border with a mission to highlight the tremendous damages inflicted by the reification of the border under the Obama administration and to call attention to the various voices silenced in the immigration reform debates- people no longer in the U.S.

After spending time with family, Lulu, Marco and Lizbeth joined six others- Ceferino Santiago, Maria Peniche, Luis Leon, Adriana Gil Diaz, Claudia Amaro, and Mario Felix– becoming collectively known as the Dream 9. The group sought humanitarian parole while attempting to publicly cross the border back into the U.S only to be arrested and detained at Eloy Detention Center in Arizona.

Upon detention, the courage and strength of the Dream 9 has not waned but rather extended. Mohammad Abdollahi, organizer with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance reported to the LA Times:  “As the nine await a decision, they’ve kept busy organizing within the facility, staging hunger strikes and gathering dozens of names and numbers of other people who are with them in immigration detention. Their case information has been passed to activists on the outside. The hope is to find these detainees some sort of immigration relief and to make their stories public.”

Yesterday, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance Facebook Page posted that Lulu and Maria have both been sentenced “to 15-days of solitary confinement for ‘inciting a demonstration’. Maria is currently on tranquilizers so she can sleep. She explains the room as dark, sometimes 24 hours of lock up, with only being allowed to shower and attorney visits.”

Lulu and the Dream 9’s actions support their commitment to social justice, equality, and a desire for a better tomorrow. Their stories should be heard, their knowledge shared, their courage passed on, and their freedom returned. It is time for us to learn the power of action and proudly stand with Lulu and the Dream 9.

We are asking GEO members and supporters to take action. We stand with our students, Lulu and the Dream 9. We want them home; they have more to teach.

How you can support:

1. Share the story of the Dream 9. Make the Dream (9) visible.
2. Sign the petition directed towards President Obama and DHS.
3. Make a call to Senator Durbin asking him to support the #DREAM9 and help bring them home. Chicago Office: 312-353-4952
4. Publicize your support. Tweet, post, blog, share. Make sure to hashtag your support with #DREAM9

For other ways to support feel free to contact: Rigo Padilla, rigo@iyjl.org