December 12, 2022

IPI sinks even lower in failed attempt to defeat Workers' Rights Amendment

By now, many AFSCME members are familiar with the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), an anti-union think tank that has consistently attacked public workers. But in its failed campaign to defeat the Workers’ Rights Amendment, the IPI sunk to new, unimaginable lows.

It was expected that the IPI would vehemently oppose the Workers’ Rights Amendment, just as they have opposed nearly every other measure that would make workers’ lives better. The wealthy donors backing the organization want to wipe out unions—and the gains that union members have made—so they can hoard more and more wealth for themselves.

The IPI’s disinformation factory started with the lie that if the Workers’ Rights Amendment passed, then property taxes would go up by thousands of dollars. An alarming statistic—but it was entirely fictional.

Repeated fact checks by the media found no truth to these claims about property taxes. When the IPI was asked where that number came from, they all but admitted that they just made it up.

But the IPI’s lies took a much more sinister turn in the waning days of the election as it became clear that they were failing to turn the tide of support for the measure. In their final moments of desperation to defeat the amendment, they made the decision to sink lower than they have ever gone before.

The IPI began to spread repulsive, nonsensical lies about Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) workers. They claimed that if the amendment passed, these employees would advocate for getting rid of background checks for investigators so the administration could hire sex offenders.

This grotesque fabrication was utterly disrespectful to DCFS workers who routinely put themselves in harm’s way to save children from abuse.

David Morris, a social service program planner at DCFS and president of Local 805 which represents DCFS workers, had just one word to describe the claim: “Stupid.”

“It just doesn’t even make sense.” Morris said. “We’re out to protect children, why would we ever advocate for something like that? But lies like this are what we’ve come to expect from groups like them. It’s what they do.”

DCFS workers have been unfairly maligned for years. Morris said most workers have learned how to cope with having a target on their back from groups like the IPI, but the
outrageousness of this campaign was shocking even to them.

“It’s unfortunate that the DCFS workforce has become fairly accustomed to being attacked and impugned,” he continued. “But a lot of us were still really shocked that they went there. We were like, ‘Really? You’re going to go this low?’”

The depth of the lies the IPI was willing to tell could ultimately damage their credibility with the public.

“The public didn’t believeit,” he said. “They saw that these claims just didn’t make any sense.”

The IPI’s lies ultimately proved too repulsive to voters. Unions focused on educating voters on the positive aspects of the amendment—stronger workplace rights, better wages, improved safety on the job—while the IPI chose to sling mud.

Since the WRA passed, the IPI has been unusually silent—but no doubt they will strike again. We’ll be at the ready.

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