Prevailing wage is best for every one

CISCO Prevailing Wage workshop
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Frank Manzo, policy director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, tells contractors, attorneys and public bodies the ins and outs of prevailing wage during a recent CISCO-sponsored workshop.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com

DOWNERS GROVE — The changing landscape of prevailing wage coverage was discussed with public bodies, contractors and attorneys Sept. 11 in Downers Grove at a workshop put on by the Construction Service Industry Corporation (CISCO).

Robert Bruno, University of Illinois professor in the school of Labor and Employment Relations, presented his research on prevailing wage in Illinois along with Frank Manzo, policy director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.

“Why research prevailing wage? Too often public policy gets implemented, and people who interact with it are not fully versed,” said Bruno. “Stories get told, myths get created, people get confused.”

Bruno co-published a study in Oct. 2013 about the implications for adopting right-to-work laws in Illinois. He said the analysis included the impact of repealing prevailing wage in Illinois, which has only gotten stronger in the state, never weaker.

“Let’s do some analysis, study it, put some good data in front of the people,” said Bruno. “Let’s look at the costs, the benefits, and the burdens.”

There were four conclusions in regards to prevailing wage in Illinois: There is no impact on total project cost, it builds middle-class jobs, it’s the best deal for the taxpayers, and it discourages irresponsible contractors.

“Total training hours are higher, resulting in an increase in worker skills. These are not low skill jobs, these are high skill,” said Manzo.

CISCO Prevailing Wage workshop
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Robert Bruno, University of Illinois professor in the school of Labor and Employment Relations said prevailing wage is the best deal for taxpayers because it discourages irresponsible contractors.

Injury and mortality rates are also lower as a result of the higher skill, which lowers project costs. It all translates to higher worker productivity.

“We like productivity, it’s a good thing,” said Manzo.

Under prevailing wage, out-of-state contractors are reduced. The value of construction done by in-state firms is higher.

“By keeping jobs local, it allows workers to earn a market wage, and creates a self-sufficient worker,” said Manzo. “This prevents a race to the bottom. It also takes labor costs out of the equation. You pay that wage and compete in other areas, such as material costs.”

Bruno said prevailing wage is the best deal for taxpayers because it discourages irresponsible contractors.

“There would be no strong private sector without public infrastructure. You’re playing with fire if you don’t establish a strong criteria for people to work on this infrastructure,” said Bruno. “With prevailing wage, you are setting a criteria of having to constantly train and re-train for the job. It’s a competent crew who has their hands on the people’s assets.”

Vet receives Trackchair for better mobility

Action Trackchair
Photo courtesy of Operation Welcome You Home
Capt. Anthony “Tony” Simone uses, for the first time, his Action Trackchair, which was presented to him by Operation Welcome You Home.

By Operation Welcome You Home
Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

JOLIET — Operation Welcome You Home presented Joliet resident Capt. Anthony “Tony” Simone with an Action Trackchair mobile wheelchair Aug. 31 at his home.

The Trackchair provides great traction to give users the possibility of exciting adventure. The Trackchair is an all-terrain wheelchair that allows the ultimate off-road experience traversing over numerous types of terrain.

Capt. Simone was born in Lebanon, Pa. to his parents David and Jeanne. He attended elementary and high school in Pennsylvania, the continued on to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. He graduated with his BA in aeronautical science, and continued on to USAF Officer Training School.

He then completed two years of military pilot training to become a combat search and rescue helicopter pilot with the HH-60 Pave Hawk. He completed two tours to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, Capt. Simone piloted more than 200 rescue missions. It was on this deployment that his helicopter, call sign, “Pedro 66” was shot down by enemy fire. Five men paid the ultimate sacrifice. Capt. Simone was one of two survivors.

He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for six weeks. He continues to recover from his injuries with physical, speech, and occupational therapy. He has since been medically retired from active duty.

Capt. Simone continues to live by his motto, “Semper Gumby:” always flexible, whatever God gives you, make the most!”

His proud wife Andrea and their children Will and Avery were thrilled with the new Trackchair, which was presented by Operation Welcome You Home. The Trackchair comes complete with carrier, enabling Capt. Simone to transport his chair.

It also includes special accessories including LED lights, umbrella, and a fishing adapter to enjoy the outdoors.

Capt. Simone’s son Will told said, “Daddy, now we can go fishing!”

PDC 30 labor walk, phone banking a success

By Fox Valley Labor
News staff reports
Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

PDC 30 labor walk
Photo courtesy of Painters District Council 30
Union members, their families and friends participated on labor walk Sept. 13 in Aurora, which was a huge success.

PDC 30 labor walk
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Painters District Council 30
Members also phoned banked inside PDC 30 headquarters.

Non-union labor triggers union protest

By Fox Valley Labor
News staff reports
Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

CHICAGO — Multiple building trades visited the offices of Vivify Services and Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group to protest outside their offices on West Madison Street in Chicago Sept. 3.

LiUNA's Scabby the Rat protest
Photo courtesy of LiUNA
Scabby the Rat and the Fat Cat use their presence to shame Vivify Construction for building non-union in Chicago.

LiUNA's Scabby the Rat protest
Photo courtesy of LiUNA
Inflatables from several building trades line West Madison Avenue.

LiUNA's Scabby the Rat protest
Photo courtesy of LiUNA
Union members from several different building trades came together in solidarity to shame Michigan Real Estate for employing Vivify Construction to building non-union in Chicago.

Purging household gods

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD (2nd Kings 23:24).”

If a child of God ever wonders why Holy Scripture has little effect on his attitude, he may look no further to his habits. What things are competing for his trust and attention? The Christian life is constantly busy purging ungodly influences so that “he might establish the words of the law” in his heart.

Of the four forbidden influences mentioned in the passage above, we note a distinction between idols and household gods. What is the difference?

In the context, it seems idols were communal and the household gods personal. It was said Laban consulted his personal god when he wanted to understand the success of his nephew Jacob (Genesis 30:27). If he were humble, he would have asked Jacob and learned how the power to gain wealth comes from the Creator of heaven and Earth.

It is easy to see our inventions and programs as the source of prosperity. When we forget God, we believe all the answers of life come from our own noggin. It is not our prosperity that caused us to sin; but our inability to thank and worship God for His kindness and provision.

Another forbidden act was communicating with the dead done by the necromancers. There still are religions that teach different ways to talk to the dead. The practice is as fruitful as drinking from an empty glass. Praying to the dead assumes we possess some ability over the power of death, something the LORD simply does not grant.

In teaching about the afterlife, Jesus of Nazareth did not allow the possibility for those on earth to talk those in heaven or hell. Instead, He pointed them to the sufficiency of Scripture. “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead (Luke 16:31).’”

Followers of Jesus need not make gods out of material things. Nor should they pretend to communicate with those in heaven or hell. If you are reading these words, you are fixed on Earth to enjoy and give thanks to God for your blessings. The only supernatural communication we do happens in the Scriptures through faith in Jesus.

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“No nation can materially enlarge her borders and rise to a great ascendency except on the basis of Christianity and its revealed Word. In such ferment of unrest, such tumult of change, the old religions will surely give way to the power of the Cross. The Light of the World will irradiate those fair lands. The . . . Cross of our Savior will be uplifted over it all in all the significance of its power.”
—George Belknap (1832-1903), Real Admiral, United States Navy (source: presidentialprayerteam.org).

Local 701 mechanics holding strong during strike

Mechanics Local 701 strike
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
This week marks the ninth week striking IAMAW Local 701 union members have been walking the line outside the Al Piemonte Chevrolet dealership in East Dundee. They are fighting for their health insurance and pension.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com

EAST DUNDEE — “It’s gotten ugly out here,” said Bill LePinske, Mechanics Local 701 business representative as he walked the picket line Sept. 5 during a support rally at Al Piemonte Chevrolet in East Dundee.

Nine mechanics walked off the job July 9, and this week, the strikers entered their ninth week walking the line in front of the store. They held a solidarity rally to raise spirits of those on the picket line.

LePinske said all the men want is the standard automotive agreement contract, something which mechanics at the other Piemonte group stores enjoy, as well as about 150 other automotive repair shops in the Chicago area.

Mechanics Local 701 strike
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Mechanics Local 701 Business Representative Bill LePinske lifts the spirits of striking union members Sept. 5 outside the Al Piemonte Chevrolet dealership in East Dundee.

The mechanics at the Chevrolet store, 770 Dundee Ave., voted 7-2 in early May in favor of joining the union, but the store owners balked, offering half the insurance co-pay coverage and pension that their other stores have in their contract.

“I think they just don’t want this store to be union,” said LePinske.

He also claims the owners are fighting the mechanics on classification. For example, men that were doing head gasket changes and other advanced repairs before unionization are now relegated to oil change duty, making less money. Federal mediation on the matter was declined by the store owners, and no negotiations have gone forward since the strike.

LePinske said the strike line has had some issues, and now security guards patrol the perimeter of both entrances.

“A salesman punched one of our guys, and after we heckled a customer, he said he was going to go home and get his 9 mm,” he said. “Everybody’s got to learn to get along.”

Mechanics Local 701 strike
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
All IAMAW Local 701 members want is just the standard automotive agreement contract, something mechanics at other Piemonte group stores enjoy.

A restraining order against the union members was filed to make sure they stay on the public easement in front of the car dealership.

“The most discouraging thing is, they’re lying to customers,” said Chris Kujawa, a mechanic who has worked at the store nearly four years. “They’re telling customers we want more than the standard agreement, something we were never even offered. They offer that, and this is over with. The customers want to believe they are not hurting us by shopping there. They are hurting us.”

He said he and the other mechanics don’t want to return to work without union representation.

“There’s no trust there. Our biggest enemy is customer ignorance. We need to overcome that,” said Kujawa.

Across the country, Fight for $15 continues

Chicago's Fight for $15
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
This McDonald’s worker was one of 51 arrested Sept. 4 after engaging in civil disobedience for blocking the streets in front of two McDonald’s locations in Chicago. The Fight for $15 was part of a national day of action.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com

CHICAGO — The Fight for $15 movement has been ramping up protests since last year, and fast food workers certainly garnered attention Sept. 4 when 51 were arrested in Chicago as part of a national day of action.
The workers were arrested engaging in civil disobedience for blocking the streets in front of two McDonald’s locations in the city. They are fighting to win $15 per hour and a union without retaliation.

“We’re going to have walkouts all over the country,” said Kendall Fells, organizing director of the movement called Fight for $15. “There are going to be workers who don’t show up to work or who walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. or at noon.”

The Fight for 15 campaign reported that 436 fast-food workers had been arrested nationwide on the day of the protest, which came a day after President Obama highlighted their campaign in a Labor Day speech: “All across the country right now there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity. There is no denying a simple truth. America deserves a raise. Give America a raise,” said Obama in Milwaukee Sept. 1. “You know what, if I were looking for a job that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union . . . I’d want a union looking out for me.”

Chicago's Fight for $15
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
The Fight for $15 is a union-backed campaign where workers are demanding $15 an hour wage and union recognition. Supporters, above, shame big fast-food companies like McDonald’s over low pay and irregular hours.

The action came on the heels of a July convention where fast food workers vowed to do whatever it takes to win $15 and the right to form a union. Clergy, elected officials and community supporters, including Alderman Sawyer of the 6th ward and Alderman Muñoz of the 22nd ward, joined workers and union representatives from Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina the strike lines in front of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s restaurants.

Inspired by the actions of fast-food workers, Service Employees International Union home care workers have also decided to join the nationwide movement for higher pay and better rights on the job. In several cities, including Chicago, both non-union and union home care workers stood with fast food workers.

‘Those killed on the job – we’re connected to them’

74th annual All Faiths Memorial Service
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Rev. Gavin Quinn remembers union members lost on the job during the past year at the Sept. 6 All Faiths Memorial Service at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Darien.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com

CHICAGO — “When someone dies suddenly, it squeezes you pretty hard. We come together today as a people, to be with each other and celebrate life, not death. To know that you will be with that person eventually again,” said Rev. Gavin Quinn Sept. 6 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Darien.

Quinn served as celebrant to the 74th annual All Faiths Memorial Service, sponsored by the Chicago and Cook County Building Trades Council. Labor leaders, union members and their families gathered to remember those members lost on the job during the past year.

Remembered were members Gary Beno, Gustavo Briceno Jr., Russell Bull, Jacob Harper, Bruce Kamp, Martin Moreno, Jose Tafoya, Joseph Vandenover, and David Varga.

“It’s important to remember what Jesus said at the Last Supper,” said Quinn. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God, have faith in me.”

Tom Villanova, president of the Cook County Building Trades Council served as a lector along with Ralph Affrunti, secretary treasurer, and Brian Glynn, vice president.

Quinn joked that the reason the services for Cook County members are held at a church in DuPage was due to union disagreements.

“We have the mass in DuPage because the two other churches made mistakes — they used non-union glaziers and roofers,” said Quinn.

The annual mass was first offered in 1941 by Rev. Joseph Donahue.
“Isn’t it wonderful, 74 years ago father Joe started doing this,” said Quinn. “I was 1-year-old. “It’s always good to get together. Those killed on the job — we’re connected to them. It’s all about love. We have to be there for each other.”

The Lord’s prayer was recited along with hymns before Communion was offered.

Final prayers were offered to oppressed workers around the world, for the victims of Sept. 11, for the conflict in Syria, for the safety of those who serve in the armed forces, for those who are suffering from a serious illness in the trades, for tradesmen tragically killed on the job site, and for deceased men and women in the building trades.

CISCO’s “Last Swing”

CISCO's Last Swing annual golf outing
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Former Bulls Center Bill Cartwright was spotted hitting the links at CISCO’s annual Last Swing golf outing in Bloomingdale.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com

BLOOMINGDALE — It seems around mid-September is one of the best chances for consistent weather to host a golf outing in the Chicago area.

The Construction Service Industry Corporation (CISCO) kicked off its annual golf outing charity event Sept. 8 to beautiful blue skies and 70 degrees. About 150 golfers turned out, with the designated recipient of the 50/50 raffle being Christmas Without Cancer, a charity based out of Oak Lawn that helps families stricken with cancer.

CISCO's Last Swing annual golf outing
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
CISCO Executive Director Dan Allen tries his hand at winning $10,000 on the Hole-In-One hole.

“We wanted to stay local with our charity,” said Gary Karafiat, communications director with CISCO. “They don’t limit their giving just to Christmastime — it’s all year.”

Christmas Without Cancer is a non-profit organization that was started in 2003 by an oncology nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center. Over the previous decade, Christmas Without Cancer has helped hundreds of families who are fighting cancer. The charity provides everything from Christmas presents, gifts cards for gas, groceries, medications and more.

“There are a lot of union tradesmen and women who are stricken by cancer, it touches a lot of lives. This is a very worthy charity and we raised $1,500,” said Karafiat.

CISCO's Last Swing annual golf outing
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Members of the Fox Valley Building and Construction Trades Council support Christmas Without Cancer.

CISCO Executive Director Dan Allen said the last year as head of the organization has gone great, and he’s looking forward to the upcoming Sept. 11 prevailing wage seminar.

“It’s going to be a showcase of all the different union trades. We’ve got 165 people registered. We’re trying to show that skills are what’s needed to get public projects done,” said Allen. “We’re going to talk about the complexity of these projects and what it takes to complete them.”

New this year at the outing was a $25,000 hole-in-one prize sponsored by Amalgamated Life and Health Insurance, which unfortunately, no one won. There also was a $10,000 hole prize sponsored by the Finishing Contractors Association of Illinois. About 50 sponsors overall made the event possible.

‘Sixteen Tons’ captures coal field life

By Mike Matejka,
special to the Fox Valley Labor News
Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014

Sixteen Tons
by Kevin Corley
Hardball Press
ISBN 97800991163991
www.hardballpress.com

Coal miners were once referred to as the “shock troops of labor,” hardened union members who were often shot at and not afraid to shoot back.

Coal was the fuel of 19th and early 20th century economic expansion. The work was dangerous and poorly paid. Coal miners, often in isolated rural communities, fought hard to build a strong union.

There are battle grounds and disasters that still echo today — Virden, Cherry, Ludlow, Matewan, Herrin and numerous others.

Central and southern Illinois was a critical building block to the United Mine Workers’ success. Drawing all these stories together yet still making them vivid and real is a challenge for any writers. Retired Christian County high school teacher Kevin Corley has successfully done that in his new novel, Sixteen Tons.

Historical figures like Mother Jones and Matewan’s Sheriff Sid Hatfield appear, but Corley has woven together a diverse cast of characters — Italian immigrants, West Virginia miners, African-Americans and native born. Together they do what families do — mature, get married and raise families.

Coal field hard realities continually interrupt their lives. There are mine disasters and grieving widows. There is World War I and the mass flu epidemic that followed. There are miners from central Illinois volunteering to help other miners, bringing them to Colorado, Kentucky and West Virginia to aid strikers.

Finally, the Illinois coal fields erupts in a war — not between the miners and the coal companies, but miner against miner, as union members dissatisfied with their national organization start their own union.

High stakes battles could easily overshadow character in a novel this far-ranging. Corley effectively creates individuals who are not cardboard cut-outs, but real workers with varied viewpoints. The women are just as vivid, showing families debating their risks and next move.

As a teacher, Corley soaked up stories of the Illinois coal fields, translating them into a readable novel of a recent past that should not be forgotten.