The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Janus Backers Aim to Crush Public Education, Undermine Economic and Social Safety Nets

Time for neo-lib Dems like Emanuel to quit pretending, work to end austerity and implement economic fairness.


Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to the Supreme Court's Janus decision:

Today we will see neoliberal Democratic Party political bosses like Rahm Emanuel shaking their fist at this decision, acting as if they have not been bi-partisan partners in the erosion of workers' rights, co-conspirators in the austerity movement and willing allies in the theft of job and retirement security.

In Chicago, where union jobs have been the pathway to the middle class for women and Black and Latinx families, the attack on public employees is both sexist and racist. While today's attack will hit all working families hard, in Chicago it will disproportionately hurt Black and Latinx households already reeling from the foreclosure crisis, cuts to social services, school closures, unrelenting violence and high unemployment. Rahm has done nothing to address the needs of these constituencies or these critical issues - or at least, nothing good.

Janus was instigated by a particularly bad boss, billionaire Bruce Rauner, who helped Rahm earn $18 million in under three years. Rahm returned the boss's favor by using Rauner to bash public school teachers. Rauner made billions as a vulture capitalist through outsourcing and layoffs -Rahm's twin strategies as Chicago's mayor. Rauner and his fellow bad bosses have mounted a national offensive to defund unions, undermine a national teachers' movement against austerity, and undercut workers' rights. Locally, Rauner and his pals have eagerly worked with Rahm to hand out public dollars to wealthy corporations that don't need them, at the expense of working class Black and Brown families.

The bad bosses and elites behind Janus are the same players who seek to gut our nation's economic and social safety nets and push education 'deform' schemes like school privatization - just like Rahm. These policies undermine public education, public health, affordable housing and a host of other vital public rights, driving displacement, unemployment, mass incarceration, racism and hostility to immigrants.

With Rahm, we've lived under the Janus' agenda for years, with this mayor working the same toxic playbook to undercut public needs from affordable housing and health care to public education and living wages for ordinary workers. That has to end. The outrage over our rigged economic rules has fired a growing movement for living wage work, equity and fairness for working people. It cost one of the city's most powerful Democratic politicians - a political ally of Rahm's - his job as assessor. No court ruling can stamp out the demand for fairness - or the power of organizing collectively for our rights and our dignity. We can start right here in Chicago by calling out the sell-out allies of the Janus agenda for what they are: enemies of working people who do not deserve another day in public office.

An affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), CTU is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois.