Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In picking ‘wrong’ opponent, will labor wind up with no one sympathetic?

It was intriguing to see the Illinois Education Association make its “Anybody But Rahm” endorsement for the upcoming mayoral election.

For the labor union that represents adjunct faculty at various colleges in Chicago said it could live with either Robert Fioretti or Jesus “Chuy” Garcia as the city’s new mayor.

WHAT THEY REALLY do NOT want to see is “four more years” of Rahm Emanuel working on the fifth floor of City Hall. They’re perceiving Emanuel as being the city government equivalent of Gov. Bruce Rauner – who in recent days has been making all kinds of statements showing that he really is as hostile to organized labor as he appeared to be back during the primary election cycle last year.

Just as how the Chicago Teachers Union (which is a local within the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and not a part of the IEA) has long had its own quarrels with Emanuel, and earlier this week said it intends to stand up to anything Rauner tries to pull.

We’re getting the reminders of just how close Emanuel and Rauner are, and how I don’t doubt the new governor is hoping for the re-election of a Chicago mayor whom he probably envisions he can do business with on various issues affecting city and state government.

But this latest IEA endorsement doesn’t seem to me to amount to much. I think they really needed to pick somebody and give full support.

A DUAL ENDORSEMENT basically says that the union is for anybody who doesn’t vote for Emanuel – which could mean that there is no consolidation of support for a single challenger to Rahm.

That is what is really needed if there is to be any chance of replacing the incumbent mayor. Otherwise, all the opponents feed off each other – and the majority of people who would just as soon not see any kind of radical change will wind up banding together behind Emanuel.

Particularly since all the various political polls I have seen for the mayoral election cycle seem to indicate that Emanuel is extremely close to having enough support to win the mayoral campaign outright on Feb. 24.

Just a little more backing, and he certainly has the kind of campaign funding that could enable him to get it, and Emanuel will achieve that magical “50 percent plus 1” standard that would turn the April 7 run-off into a series of neighborhood contests to pick various aldermen.

TELLING THE PEOPLE who couldn’t get enough backing to oppose Emanuel back in 2011 that they should continue to split their support makes it seem like the IEA isn’t all that interested in dumping on the mayor.

At least not as much as he’ll likely dump all over them once he gets re-elected without their support.

It’s not like the Chicago Teachers Union, where President Karen Lewis has not let her health impediments interfere with her efforts to support a single challenger (Garcia) and is also making it clear she plans to throw her political muscle behind efforts to oppose Rauner’s desires to create “Right to Work”-like conditions in Illinois.

She may win. She may not. Who’s to say at this point? Other than to say she seems to be putting up a more credible political fight than the counterpart schools union (which gets its political bulk from suburban school districts).

FROM A LABOR perspective, I don’t doubt their worst nightmare is the idea of an Emanuel/Rauner pairing that runs the major local governments. It just seems like their efforts to fight that pairing from becoming reality may have been focused a little too much on City Hall and not on the Statehouse Scene.

Because propping up former Gov. Pat Quinn might have been easier for them than turning any of the four mayoral challengers into a winning candidate!


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