Quinn and Rauner to meet Friday before teachers

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Gov. Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner in the same room?

If that’s not prickly enough, add more than a thousand union members.

After months of sparring from afar, the Democratic governor and the Republican venture capitalist will meet face-to-face for their first joint appearance on Friday, the Illinois Education Association announced Tuesday.

Quinn and Rauner will field questions in front of 1,200 educators during the union’s 160th Representative Assembly and annual meeting, according to a union release.

“The two have accepted the union’s invitation to sit together and answer education policy questions posed by IEA President Cinda Klickna in front of the more than 1,200 teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff and retired educators who make up the delegation for the meeting,” according to the release.

The hour-long session will begin at 2 p.m. at the Hilton Chicago hotel, at 720 S. Michigan Ave.

Neither Quinn nor Rauner are beloved by the teachers or many other public sector unions.

Rauner blasted union bosses during the primary and supports positions labor does not, including charter schools and replacing public pensions with 401(k)-style retirement funds.

The Illinois Education Association backed Rauner rival Kirk Dillard during the GOP primary and went so far as to make robo-calls urging Democrats to cross over and vote for Dillard.

Quinn raised unions officials’ ire by supporting state pension reforms they oppose.

Related: Unions caught between a Rauner and a Quinn place Related: Rauner’s narrow lead leaves little margin for error in fall

Despite that, Klickna has said her organization would keep an open mind about which candidate to support in the general election.

“It’s going to have to be whether people are willing to sit down and talk about the real issues,” she told the Sun-Times after the primary.

“The real issues are education funding, making sure our communities are strong with strong schools. So, that’s what we’re about,” she said.

But Rauner might have the steeper hill to climb.

“I don’t know if Bruce Rauner is really willing to sit and talk with me or talk with our unions,” she said in March. “This campaign has characterized me in a way that I never characterized myself nor do our members. I guess we’ll just have to see.”

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