Rauner’s Executive Order takes aim at unions

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Feb. 9 Executive Order

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery called Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Feb. 9 Executive Order “a blatant abuse of power” to try and eliminate so-called fair share dues paid by workers who don’t join a union. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015

SPRINGFIELD — In what Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery called “a blatant abuse of power,” Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an Executive Order Feb. 9 blocking thousands of state employees from paying fair share fees. The Governor also announced he has filed suit in federal court to have fair share provisions declared unconstitutional.

Rauner said 6,500 state employees are paying so-called “fair share” dues, or an average of $577 a year per worker.

Montgomery vowed the IFT will “proudly stand and fight alongside others to oppose Rauner’s overreaching order.”

Fair share fees are payments required of individuals who receive the pay and other contractual benefits negotiated by the union but who choose not to join. The Governor’s order may impact a small number of IFT state employee members, but it does not impact teachers or other employees in K-12 school districts or higher education faculty.

Decatur Club

Union members met Gov. Bruce Rauner outside the Decatur Club Feb. 6 in Decatur to send Rauner the message that right-to-work is wrong for Illinois. Photo courtesy of Decatur Trades & Labor Assembly

Rauner’s announcement makes it clear once again: While the state is suffering from significant fiscal problems, the new Governor’s priority is to attack middle class families and the unions who represent them rather than find real solutions to our challenges
The IFT is just one of several union committed to joining the fight against Rauner. AFSCME, which represents thousands of state workers, strongly condemned the Governor’s attack. AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch. “Our union and all organized labor will stand together with those who believe in democracy to overturn Bruce Rauner’s illegal action and restore the integrity of the rule of law,” she explained.

3_rauner executive order

Rauner can be overruled by the courts, or if lawmakers can gather enough votes to override his decision. Democrats hold supermajorities in the state Legislature.

Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said Rauner has been on a “blame crusade” that unfairly targets public employees.

“While he points to the salaries of those cooking the food in the cafeterias, guarding the prisoners and plowing the snow and ice from our roads as the culprits in our state financial woes, he is silent on the hundreds of tax breaks granted to large businesses and low corporate income tax in Illinois,” Carrigan said.

The executive order followed Rauner’s proposal last week, during his State of the State Address, for Illinois to adopt “right to work” zones around the state where communities are able to decide whether joining a union or paying union fees would be voluntary for local workers.

Labor leaders, workers kick off early voting in Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Hundreds of members of Chicago’s organized labor helped kick off the first day of early voting Feb. 9. Photo courtesy Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Office

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015

CHICAGO — With early voting beginning Feb. 9 in the mayor’s race, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and labor leaders rallied hundreds of workers to get out and vote early.

“I’m honored by the support of these labor leaders, but I’m much more honored by the partnership that we’ve developed over the last four years,” Mayor Emanuel said. “We’re here tonight to tell all Chicagoans that you can make your voice heard in this election — and to get out and cast your ballots early.”

The labor leaders encouraged their members to vote early to make sure their voice is heard in the effort to reelect Mayor Emanuel.
“Four years ago, I was supporting another candidate but since then, our city came back from the Great Recession with a vengeance,” said Jim Sweeney, president and business manager of the Operating Engineers 150.

“Now there’s so much work that it’s not just our current members who are working, but our retirees. Rahm knows how to get things done, and he doesn’t take no for an answer. Rahm has earned our endorsement because he’s worked with us and he’s worked for us — so go out and vote,” Sweeney added.

“We need a guy that is unrelenting and will never stop holding the line or advancing the ball,” said James Ellis, the business manager for the Laborers Local 1001. “It’s too important of a time not to have a true leader as mayor, and Rahm has shown us time and time again he will bring revenue to this city from both capitols Sweeney in Washington and Springfield Sweeney and has brought in corporate headquarters at breakneck pace. He deserves our support, and you can vote for him starting today.”

“Mayor Emanuel knows what working families are going through, and what it means to earn wages that can raise families and pay bills,” said Karen Kent, president of UNITE HERE Local 1.

“This mayor’s leadership has been instrumental for my members Sweeney whether it’s raising the minimum wage or bringing new jobs to Chicago, and that’s why I’m telling all of them to go vote today to give him another four years,” she explained.

More information about early voting is available at ChicagoElections.com. Voters can find polling locations and hours for early vote, which continues through Saturday, Feb. 21.
—Chicago Together

The trembling, rumbling ride

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling (Psalm 2:11).”

When I was 10, my uncle Roy offered me a ride on his motorcycle. It was an awesome invitation. Imagining the wind blowing in my face was exciting. Uncle Roy would not let me down. I trusted him. Heartily accepting, I hopped on and away we went. Our ride began at a casual pace through a residential zone. The power of the engine made its power known.

We approached the freeway — a speed limit of 55 MPH. “Hold on!” uncle Roy said, as he veered the turn in confidence. The bike straightened and he accelerated. Yikes! The engine was triumphantly loud. Glancing to each side, I watched scenery pass by quickly. The resistance of air against my arms and legs warned me of the potential danger of falling. I would not let go. The faster we went, the tighter I held on. It was thrilling!

In many ways, following Jesus is like that ride. More awesome than any speed here on Earth, He is mighty in stature and power. The sounds of mountains shaking (recalled in Scripture) speak of His great undergirding strength. He upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).

While days seem to drag, a look back tells us how quickly they go by. Life is full of “dangers, toils and snares.” The brevity and hazards cause us to moan. Everything can be gone in one moment. These thoughts are sobering.

At the same time, a child of God doesn’t fear the next life. He is trusting in Jesus and nothing will separate him from God’s love. Fellowship with God is exciting. Rejoicing in delight, God’s child doesn’t think twice of letting go of his Savior.

Trembling happens because God is great and powerful; yet it is mingled in rejoicing because of His great love in Christ. Trembling is done in confidence, not in fear.

Don’t be afraid. Trust in Jesus and don’t let go. Lose the world and gain your soul.

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.”
—Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, Commanding General of the Union Army

U. of C. nurses give approval to strike


With no date set for a possible strike, negotiations are expected to continue in the interim. Registered nurses voted Jan. 29 to authorize a one-day strike to protest the hospital’s refusal to address staffing and patient care concerns. Photo courtesy of Crimsonmaroon via Wikipedia

CHICAGO — Registered nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center overwhelmingly voted by 95 percent Jan. 29 to authorize a one-day strike to protest the hospital’s refusal to address staffing and patient care concerns that nurses say jeopardize the health and safety of both patients and nurses.

No date has been set for a possible strike, and negotiations are expected to continue in the interim.

The RNs’ three-year contract expired in October 2014. Contract negotiations between National Nurses United (NNU) — which represents about 1,550 UCMC nurses — and the hospital, have made little progress, said NNU Midwest Director, Jan Rodolfo.

At issue, primarily, is the medical center’s refusal to address unsafe staffing levels and it’s proposals to: replace the clinically competent RN “charge nurses” on each unit with managers focused on budgetary concerns; and to require more nurses who usually work day shift to unsafely “rotate” their schedule and randomly work night shifts.

Research indicates that staffing levels are the single biggest factor in hospital morbidity rates, and NNU has pushed the medical center to adopt the nurse-to-patient ratios that are mandated by law in California.

“When nurses have more patients than they can safely care for,” said Brigitt Manson, RN, a pediatric nurse at UCMC, “it puts our patients at risk. It’s just that simple.”

Similarly, the practice of nurse rotation jeopardizes patient health.

Nurses who are sleep deprived are less likely to notice what may often be subtle changes in a patient’s condition, suffer from adverse health effects themselves and even report falling asleep while driving home after a twelve hour shift.


Nurses discuss the strike before they cast their vote. Ninety-five percent of nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center who voted, gave union leadership approval to issue a strike notice if necessary. Photo courtesy of National Nurses United

UCMC nurses are particularly appalled over the University’s proposal to cut staff nursing on the unit by eliminating the charge nurse role for bedside nurses. The charge nurse plays several key roles in a hospital unit, first as a kind of air-traffic controller, who assigns the most appropriate nurse to each patient based on their condition, intervenes in emergencies and plays a role as clinical mentor to new nurses.

“We would lose that clinical, hands- on- person,” said Judy Tevere, RN, a cardio thoracic intensive care nurse in at UCMC, “and we would get a bean counter, wholly unaccountable to the patients.”

Currently, staff nurses on a unit fill the charge nurse role on a rotating basis while also handling their own patient assignments.
The hospital, however, is proposing to eliminate a full position and give some of the assignment roles to a management RN who would not provide any direct care, thus increasing the patient load for all the remaining RNs and putting patients at risk.

“What all of these measures have in common is that they are unwarranted demands to cut costs at the expense of patient safety,” Rodolfo said.

“The real question is why? The hospital has pocketed more than $850 million in after-tax profits in the past five years alone. It pays its CEO $564 per hour, spent half-a-million dollars on lobbying in 2012, and yet spends only about 1 percent of its gross revenues on charity care, in a city that is home to some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. What, exactly, are they trying to achieve?”
—National Nurses United

Rep. Robin Kelly on gun violence and the TPP

Congresswomen Robin Kelly

Congresswomen Robin Kelly explains the various functions of the committees she sits on, then fielded questions from guests at a recent brunch for Democratic Women of DuPage County. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Feb. 5, 2014
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

You can view videos of the 2015 Democratic Women of DuPage County Annual Organizational Brunch by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel

NAPERVILLE — Congresswoman Robin Kelly expressed her hope of working with young, new Republicans coming into the 114th Congress, the disrespect she sees toward President Barack Obama from follow Republicans and the need for gun ownership accountability.

She discussed all these hot button topics at the Jan. 24 Democratic Women of DuPage County (DWDC) Annual Organizational Brunch where she was the keynote speaker, along with several other Democratic politicians.

As long and dark as the road may seem for Democrats, Kelly reassured guests that members from both sides of the aisle, “get along better than people think.” She added that moderate Republicans could help in the long run, if they could stand up to the Tea Party and express how they really feel.

Kelly is one of 11 vice chairs on the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force led by Congressman Mike Thompson of California.

“This topic is near and dear to my heart and it’s something I’ll never give up the fight for. Gun violence is a public health crisis,” she explained.

Kelly couldn’t help but set the record straight about the media reporting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave her contributions for her campaign. “Mayor Bloomberg didn’t know me from a hole in the wall. He did not give Robin Kelly $2 million. He did not get involved in the race until the very end. When we did finally met, it was months after I was in Congress.”

Congressman Bill Foster, who was in Naperville the day of the brunch to host a service academy nomination ceremony at the nearby Judd Kendall VFW Post, stopped by to show his support for Kelly and to give thanks to the members of DWDC.

Congressman Bill Foster

Retired AFSCME member Wall Kubon, along with Congressman Bill Foster, chat with DWDC member Kim Savage prior to Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s talk. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“Democrats are wonderful, but they are not always the most organized, but this group here is a part of the Democratic Party that just works,” Foster explained. When questions turned to what details both Kelly and Foster could share about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), Foster said his vote will depend on how it effects the good jobs in his district.

“The fair ground is how it nets out for good jobs in our district. If we replace a good manufacturing job with a not-so-good warehouse job — that’s not good,” he said.

Just because the TTP may be good for U.S. business profits, if it throws U.S. manufacturing and agriculture under the bus, “that’s not ok with me,” Foster explained.

Kelly acknowledged that the country needs companies to invest in the U.S., but she stressed it needs be on a level playing field. “I hear all the time from business owners in my district that we’re open to other countries, but other countries are not open to us,” she said.

Sadly, former union member constructs non-union

Scabby the Rat

Several LIUNA 362 members show their disgust with one of their former union members — who has defected from the union that trained him, and is using non-signatory contractors to construct his new business. Photo courtesy Laborers’ Local 1

By Mike Matejka Special to the Fox Valley Labor News

By Mike Matejka
Special to the Fox Valley Labor News
Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015

McCLEAN COUNTY — Union membership brings many benefits – training, job opportunities, better pay and a retirement pension. As a union member, fellow members expect a certain loyalty in return. That is why union members avoid businesses operating non-union or building with non-union workers.

So it is particularly upsetting to McLean County unions when “one of their own” turns against organized labor.

Thornton-Rave Steel Fabrication is a new business under construction in Normal, Illinois, using non-union contractors. The “Thornton” in “Thornton-Rave” is Joe Thornton, a former member of Laborers Local 362 and Operating Engineers Local 649. Marti Rave, a home builder, is the other partner in the enterprise.

“My Grandfather pulled Joe from behind the kitchen grill and gave him an opportunity to earn a good pay,” said Laborers Local 362 Business Manager Tony Penn. “He was a good worker and transitioned from a Laborer to an Operating Engineer. He made a good living, earned a pension and had his life changed by the union. So to see him now refuse the union contractors who helped him stabilize his life is very distressing to our membership.”

The plant under construction will bend and pre-fabricate rebar for construction sites. The Livingston & McLean Counties Building & Construction Trades Council, which represents the union trades in those two counties, is encouraging contractors to boycott Thornton-Rave.

“This metal product is going to be delivered to union job sites,” said Livingston & McLean Counties Building & Trades Council President Rich Veitengruber.

“We are asking union members and contractors to avoid Thornton-Rave products. If these products show up at a job site, I hope good union members will know to avoid them,” Veitengruber explained.

“If your products are used on union construction sites, if you got your chance in life through organized labor, you owe those same opportunities to younger workers today,” said Penn.

“To turn your back on the companies who opened the door for you is totally inappropriate. We all do better when we all do better. Hopefully Thornton-Rave will get the message that they need to return to their roots and support the people who historically supported them,” Penn added.

Being a Labor Democrat

Tom Suhrbur

Tom Suhrbur
Illinois Education
Association (retired)
Special to the Fox
Valley Labor News
Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015

In this final installment of a 4-part series, retired IEA member Tom Suhrbur examines the labor movement and how its successes improved individual and family prosperity.

To make matters worse, Republicans also want to raise the eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, in effect, reducing benefits. In 2012, House Republicans passed the Ryan Budget. It included a voucher system for workers aged 55 and younger that would end the Medicare guarantee. The vouchers could be used to shop for medical coverage. It also included a block grant system for Medicaid. Eventually, Medicaid funding would be cut under the Ryan plan.

These are many other important reasons for voting Democratic. Republicans are horrible on environmental issues. They (and some Democrats mainly in coal and oil producing states) recklessly support the fossil fuel industry with little regard for the environment. Climate change is not a “hoax” perpetuated by scientists.

On gun control, it makes no sense to oppose universal background checks and to allow the purchase of military assault weapons yet the Republicans are beholden to the gun lobby. In fact, the Party is totally committed “getting government off our backs.” They defend the interests of the ruling class and transnational corporations that the elites manage without any regard for the social and environmental consequences now or future.

Democrats are not blameless. Like Republicans, Democrats are often under the sway of wealthy corporate interests. Some Democrats have supported Republican-sponsored neo-conservative policies. Here are just a few examples: Clinton signed NAFTA. George H. Bush introduced the legislation to Congress. Clinton promised labor and environmental protections in NAFTA, but signed it without any such provisions. NAFTA and other free trade agreements have resulted in job losses and downward pressure on American wages. Clinton also signed legislation sponsored by Senator Phil Graham (R-Texas) that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, removing federal regulation of banking and investment contributing greatly to the 2008 financial collapse.

Except for a few, congressional Democrats blindly supported the Bush Administration’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as American militarism in general. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) — aka Obamacare — was essentially the approach advocated by the conservative Heritage Foundation in the 1980s. In 1993, Sen. Bob Dole and several other Republicans introduced a health care bill similar to the ACA in response to Hillary Clinton’s proposals. Later, Gov. Romney supported the passage of a health care bill in Massachusetts that served as a model for the ACA. Hoping to win Republican congressional support, President Obama proposed a “compromise” (cuts) on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in 2011. Republicans rejected the plan because it also included tax increases mainly on high-income earners. Much to the chagrin of progressive Democrats, he also supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (free trade agreement).

Despite its numerous shortcomings, there are many voices in the Democratic Party that supports workers’ rights, fair trade rather than free trade, corporate and financial regulation, environmental protection and other progressive policies that benefit the vast majority of Americans. The Republican Party leadership serves the interests of the wealthy elites and the transnational corporations that they control. The Party and its conservative right Federal Court appointees are out to destroy the unionism. So I actively support labor Democrats.

Working out what God works in

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).”

Back in World War II, the Nazi’s forced prisoners to build structures to strict specifications. Once built, the prisoners were forced to watch their structures destroyed. The Nazi’s would then order the structures be built again. An average job was not tolerated. It had to be perfect. Working hard while knowing their craft would be destroyed and never used added cruelty to the torture.

The belief that one must earn God’s acceptance through good works produces the same hopelessness. No matter how hard one tries, sin destroys the work. Many good things are done only to be corrupted by sin. Our nature sinful taints every good work with sin. Such is why the LORD does not consider good works meritorious. The only work that earns God’s acceptance is the work of His Son. God’s plan credits Jesus’ good works to those who do not trust in themselves, but in Him. Followers of Jesus gain God’s acceptance not on their works, but on Jesus’ works (Romans 4-5).

The work of Jesus’ followers is as a tree producing an apple. The works are directly caused by the life and power supplied by God’s Spirit.

Before one comes to Christ, his life of selfishness is supported by an evil spirit (Ephesians 2:2). When the same person is born again by God, his life is empowered by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8). These spirits are not forces. They are beings that think, will and do things similar to what we do. An example is teaching. While the Holy Spirit teaches truth, the evil spirits teach lies.

Both spirits inform us with ideas and cause us to do things. The question is, “what path of life do you follow?” Do you love Christ? Do you think of ways to serve Him? Is Jesus precious to you? Do you owe Him your very life? Holiness is not about perfection, but direction.

Contrary to many false religions, good works are not meritorious. They are simply necessary evidences one needs to know God is working in his life. Works are important to the Christian.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).”

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“Take due care that all laws made and provided for the suppression of vice and encouraging of religion and virtue, particularly the observance of the Lord’s day, be duly put into execution.”
—Governor Basse of the New Jersey Colony, 1697 (source: presidentialprayerteam).

Bridging Labor & Scouting

labor and scouting

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Jan. 29, 2014
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

You can view videos of the Labor and Scouting event by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel

CHICAGO — At the core of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is teaching its youth to become leaders, and to serve others — which is not unlike the brotherhood of organized labor.

Scouting and Labor came together Jan. 20 in a merging of ideology and goals, but more importantly, to honor one of Labor and Scoutings biggest supporters — United Association General President William Hite, who was awarded the first ever Boy Scouts of America Chicago Area Council AFL-CIO George Meany Award.

United Association General President William Hite

United Association General President William Hite was honored with receiving the George Meany Award Jan. 20 in Chicago for his commitment to bring Scouting closer to the building construction trades. Photo courtesy of United Association

The event, held before 660 guests at Chicago’s Sheraton Hotel and Towers, honored Hite’s commitment to bring Scouting closer to the construction trades.

Chicago’s BSA Pathway to Adventure Council presented Hite with the award, which recognizes union members who have made a significant contribution to local youth through BSA programs. The event also raised more than $300,000, which will be used for the Boy Scout merit badge programs in plumbing, welding and American labor, and for the creation of a new BSA programs aimed at fostering genuine interest and skills in the trades among today’s youth.

Hite, a former Cub and Sea Scout, thanked the BSA and said he is anxious to open the next chapter of working together and to recruit scouts into the trades. “Scouting builds character and integrity, and that’s what we try to put into our union. That’s where the partnership with Scouting comes in, because they are taught early on, what it’s all about. Scouting and the building trades are about a brotherhood,” Hite explained.

United Association General President William Hite

United Association General President William Hite, center, laughs with fellow labor leaders after he received the George Meany Award for his commitment to bring Scouting closer to the construction trades. Photo courtesy of United Association

Labor and Scouting Chairman Bob Melko added that through Scouting, the building trades will raise awareness of the excellent education it offers young people and show them the high quality of living that can be achieved and made from a career in the construction trades.

Prior to the Labor and Scouting event, union leaders and contractors participated in a workshop to educate themselves in implementing an Exploring Post in their union or business.

Boy Scouts of America National Exploring Director Marty Walsh said the Exploring program exposes young men and women, aged 14- to 20-years-old, to various skilled trades with hands-on learning.

“With the Exploring program and exposing youth to the construction trades industry, it’s a great opportunity for us to work together. Our local offices are ready to work and open doors so young people can experience careers in something they may never considered, or were just waiting for someone to ask,” Walsh explained.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called William Hite a dear friend and a great ally in politics. He acknowledged the building trades with finding solutions to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure at a feasible price. Photo courtesy of Nadine Saucedo

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave Hite and the building trades praise for their leadership and insight. “The plumbers and pipe fitters have grabbed thousands of hands of young men and women, given them the training and the skills so they could have a job and provide for their families — all under the leadership of Bill Hite.”

Meany was a second generation plumber, starting with Local 1 in New York. In 1952, he became the leader of the AFL and successfully negotiated the merger of the AFL and CIO. He stepped down as president in 1979.

Non-union labor issues brings out Scabby

Non-union deck collapse

A deck collapse, above, injured one worker Jan. 19 at a job site in Aurora where four, four-story apartment buildings are being constructed near the Westfield Fox Valley mall on Station Boulevard, off New York Street. Courtesy of Cement Masons Local 502.

Problems with various non-signatory contractors

Problems with various non-signatory contractors at the Aurora site have been on-going for years. In October 2013, Scabby the Rat was protesting the same site, left, along with members from Westmont Laborers’ Local 288, against Burrink Commercial Services, Inc. of South Holland, Ill., for not meeting area standards. Fox Valley Labor News file photo.