Sen. Meeks to Teachers Union – Don’t Shop Chicago for the Holidays

senator-james-meeks and marilyn-stewart

State Sen. James Meeks and CTU President Marilyn Stewart in Chicago Friday night. (Photo: ENEWSPF)

Chicago, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Illinois State Senator James Meeks attempted to rally support for his boycott of all Chicago businesses and restaurants Friday at the Chicago Teachers Union 33rd Annual Legislators Educators Appreciation Dinner. The event was held at Plumbers Hall in Chicago.

Senator Meeks was awarded the David Peterson Award for Excellence in Politics by the organization of over 32,000 teacher, paraprofessional and retiree members. David Peterson had been a teacher before becoming the long-time CTU lobbyist and legislative director. According to John Ostenburg, Chief of Staff for the Chicago Teachers Union, Peterson was one of the most respected lobbyists in Springfield and was considered an expert on both education and labor issues. He passed away from cancer in the early 2000s.

Meeks told attendees that he is calling for a boycott of all businesses and restaurants in the city of Chicago from the day after Thanksgiving until the day after Christmas. According to Meeks, this means "not to shop downtown, nor to eat in a downtown restaurant."

Meeks accused Chicago’s business community of attempting to undermine school funding reform, adding, "all of the Illinois business groups, the Illinois retail merchants, they are always against every school funding deal."

Meeks asked those in attendance why they should support those who do not support teachers, "They’re not ashamed to come to Springfield and to advocate that they don’t want more money for schools, so we shouldn’t be ashamed to advocate that we don’t want people shopping in their stores."

"The number one reason that they give for not wanting to support school funding is that they say they want reforms. What school reform means is — listen carefully now — reforms for them really means, is that they don’t want more money going to teachers. That’s what it means."

According to Meeks, the business community in Chicago wants to ensure that not a dime of new money goes to teachers or teachers salaries, "and that ain’t right. That’s not fair. That’s not right to you. You deserve a raise just like everybody else deserves a raise."

Meeks said that if the business community would come to the table and "support school funding, we would have school funding right now. But the only reason they won’t come to the table is because y’all won’t fight them back. I encourage you to join me in the latest protest, not to shop downtown, not to eat downtown, the whole Christmas holiday, until the business community comes to the table and supports school funding."

It might prove difficult to measure the effectiveness of Meeks’ proposed boycott given the current downturn in the economy.

While Meeks did remind the talkative crowd a few times he was a pastor and not accustomed to people speaking while he spoke, he was greeted with applause.