Chicago Jobs with Justice honors IFT President Dan Montgomery

Chicago Jobs with Justice

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery receives the Charlie Hayes award Sept. 15 from Chicago Jobs with Justice Executive Director Susan Hurley. Montgomery was introduced by Karen Lewis. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

You can view Karen Lewis’ introduction of Dan Montgomery by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel

You can view Dan Montgomery talking to guests by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel

CHICAGO — Dan Montgomery was content on staying an English teacher in Skokie. He entered the profession to teach, but somewhere along the way, he become a unionist. And he’s OK with that.

“Along the way, I became a union leader and it’s been a great honor and privilege. Along the way, I discovered I loved it,” Montgomery said.

He’s OK with being part of a group of people who work hard for the continuance of democracy. “You realize you’re part of something much bigger than just those 40 minutes in your classroom every day,” Montgomery explained.

Since 2010 Montgomery’s been president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) union where he’s fought for justice for teachers, students and working families throughout the state and Chicago. For that, Chicago Jobs with Justice (CJwJ) honored Montgomery with its Charlie Hayes Award Sept. 15.

CJwJ is also celebrating 25 years of activism and organizing.

IFT Vice President Karen Lewis introduced Montgomery and recalled their election as IFT officers and traveling to its convention. “There were people that we defeated that were still on the IFT Executive Board, so, it was a very awkward time,” she said to laughs from guests.


Chicago Teachers Union President and Illinois Federation of Teachers Vice President Karen Lewis addresses Chicago Jobs with Justice honoree Dan Montgomery. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

There were some veteran IFT officials that wanted someone other than Montgomery making decisions, suggesting he act instead as a shadow to the real leaders. Lewis wanted to give Montgomery a shot. She convinced him it would be OK; that they would figure it out together.



When Lewis talks about Montgomery, you can see the admiration and respect she has for him. “I appreciate that he took that leap of faith. He went over that mountain with me, and we’ve been at it ever since,” Lewis explained.

Montgomery has recognized the need to build solidarity with other unions, with the community and with parents.

Teaching in Skokie, he said his students had parents who worked middle-class jobs. The parents were the kind of people Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump doesn’t care about.

Even though Montgomery taught to the best of his ability, nothing would have a greater impact on the lives of his students than if a parent lost their job.

“That will have a bigger impact on their lives than anything I could do as a teacher,” he explained.

Esther Lopez’s dedication to labor workers is honored

UFCW International Vice President Esther Lopez

UFCW International Vice President Esther Lopez was selected as the 2014 recipient of the Charlie Hayes Leadership Award due to her on-going support of working men and women. Photo courtesy of Greg Rodil

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

CHICAGO — Even though she’s the vice president of an international union, Esther Lopez has a soft spot in her heart for the Windy City.

“It is here where I have stood on so many shoulders. Here in Chicago is where I have learned about working together with little engines that do,” said Lopez, the UFCW International Vice President and Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department.

She was honored by Chicago Jobs with Justice Oct. 2 at Workers United with the 2014 Charlie Hayes Leadership Award. The award is named in honor of Hayes’ contributions to making life better for working men and women.

Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez called Lopez mission-driven and focused when it comes to protecting families and communities.

“For someone to do so much for so many — and do it in a way that is selfless, that is very rare,” Ramirez said. “Charlie Hayes was a person who believed in lifting other people up. He was a great man and it’s a great award to be named after. This night all comes together because I don’t know someone who embodies that spirit more than Esther.”

When work sends her traveling around the country, she often thinks of the working men and women in Chicago who understand what it means to fight together, and being together is what is going to get Democrats elected Nov. 4.

“We cannot be lulled by the perfume of excess. We have to see some action. We are in real deep fights and we need to understand that,” Lopez warned.

She recalled a Black Friday rally at a Wal-Mart in Albuquerque, N.M. last year where a family of seven, led by the grandfather, approached Lopez. She was concerned they might want to argue, so she was preparing for the worst.

“He said, ‘thank you for giving us another way to celebrate Thanksgiving.’ It was amazing. You guys are changing the narrative in this country about what we should be celebrating and whom we should celebrate,” Lopez said.