Teamsters profile: The work of a city booter

By Fox Valley
Labor News staff
Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015

Teamsters Local 700 booter

Some of the most likeable men and women are considered by vehicle owners to be the most hated public servants in the City of Chicago. A Teamsters Local 700 profile shows that booters are just doing their job, which brings in revenue for the city. Photo courtesy of Teamsters Local 700

Some of the most likeable men and women are considered by vehicle owners to be the most hated public servants in the City of Chicago

CHICAGO — Meet Darryl Porter, a proud father and grandfather who enjoys cooking for friends and family. He’s a boy scout cycling master and an ordained deacon. A soft-spoken and polite family man, Porter is an avid fisherman who enjoys the outdoors.

Yet this mild-mannered and well-liked Chicagoan strikes anger and frustration into half a million residents immediately upon seeing him on the job. His badge reads City of Chicago Department of Revenue, and his job title is booter.

Porter and 37 of his colleagues are responsible for installing and removing Denver Boots on all vehicles that have two tickets older than one year. That adds up to more than 530,000 vehicle owners responsible for paying millions of dollars to the City of Chicago.

Unfortunately for the workers who install and remove this debilitating contraption, booters don’t work on commission. The money that is paid to have the boot removed goes straight to the city’s Department of Finance, which merged with the Department of Revenue in 2012, but most trucks and uniforms don’t reflect the merger.

“People look at what we do and they think this is an easy job, but it’s anything but easy,” Porter said. “You’re constantly multi-tasking, paying attention to the computer system, evaluating the scene around you, all while driving. And that’s just part of it.”

Teamsters Local 700 member Darryl Porter

Teamsters Local 700 member Darryl Porter has booted for Chicago for the past 17 years. He may not be the most liked city employee, but booting brings in more than $30 million in revenue each year. Photo courtesy of Teamsters Local 700

As a member of Teamsters Local 700, Porter has worked as a booter for the City of Chicago for the past 17 years. When he started, he said that two workers were assigned to each van, and they didn’t have cameras synched with a computer system to scan license plates. Rather, the booters were equipped with a telephone book-sized listing of expired plates.

Today, being a booter in Chicago means being a laborer, data entry tech and a driver. Porter said each week, booters are assigned a specific zone to patrol across the city. The zones are broken down with 15 zones for the north, 15 zones for the south and each zone varies in size. For example, one zone stretches from King Drive to Halsted Avenue and from 22nd to 59th.

After receiving their zones for the week, booters start up the vehicle’s computer system – an IBM database with hundreds of thousands of license plate entries. Despite common belief, booters don’t have access to the vehicle owner’s information. They don’t even have the address where each plate is registered to, and they don’t have the unpaid ticket information for each license plate. The only information Porter has in front of him is the license plate numbers for all vehicles in Chicago that his computer system says need a boot.

Teamsters Local 700

When a motorist sees a boot on their vehicle, they know they have two tickets that are older than one year. Photo courtesy of Teamsters Local 700

Porter’s van is equipped with two cameras, one on each side on top of the vehicle, that are synched with the computer database. Once Porter starts his route, the cameras scan all plates that he drives past. If the cameras scan a license plate that is a match with a plate number in the database, an alert will sound in Porter’s van. He then quickly asserts which side of his van the vehicle is on, if the vehicle is parked and accessible, or if it’s in moving traffic or parked in an area where Porter can not access like a private parking lot or garage.

The other part of a booters’ job comes when a plate matches with an accessibly parked vehicle. Porter says it takes him less than a minute to get out the equipment, install the boot, put away his tools and get back in the van. Towering at 6-foot-4, Porter said he has to act swiftly installing the boots.

“The last thing you want is a confrontation with an angry owner,” Porter said. “We have no choice but to think fast on our feet, read the person and de-escalate the situation. You don’t want to make the wrong judgment and end up getting chased down the street with no protection.”

Teamsters Local 700

Porter’s van is equipped with two cameras that are synched with a computer database. Cameras scan vehicle plates, looking for hits and will sound when it finds a match. Photo courtesy of Teamsters Local 700

Booters cover routes all over the city from high crime to high-end areas, from King Drive to Oak Street. There is only one person per van, and booters rely on the van’s cameras to provide surveillance. However, if the vehicle being booted is parked on the right side of the van, only the right camera will record surveillance.

Porter said there’s always an element of the unknown when he boots a vehicle. He recalls some situations where multiple people surround the parked car upon seeing his van approach in order to create a distraction while the vehicle owner attempts to flee.

In other situations, booters are cursed at, spit at, screamed at and even chased down the street either by another car or by individuals. Even those booters who are responsible for removing the boots often encounter disgruntled owners. This is where Porter’s training as an ordained deacon and a generally patient person come into play.

“When you’re a person who genuinely wants to help other people, this job takes you totally out of your norm,” said Porter.

The City of Chicago employs 38 booters who together bring in an estimated $30 million for the city in revenue each year.
—Teamsters Local 700

Adjunct faculty at a St. Louis university form union

By Fox Valley
Labor News staff
Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015

Adjunct faculty at a St. Louis university form union

Adjunct faculty at Washington University in St. Louis recently voted Union yes, marking a significant victory for part-time instructors known as the working class of the academic community. The SEIU Local 1 has been pushing its Adjunct Action campaign throughout the St. Louis area and nationwide for more than two years. Photo courtesy of Adjunct Action

ST. LOUIS — Adjunct professors at Washington University in St. Louis, have voted to join adjunct faculty at schools across the country in SEIU/Adjunct Action. More than 400 faculty members won their union Jan. 5 as ballots were counted at the National Labor Relations Board office in St. Louis.

The victory is the first in St. Louis and a step forward to improve the working conditions of the increasing numbers of part-time and contingent faculty in higher education.

Forty-four percent of faculty in St. Louis area private, non-profit colleges and universities work part time and 73 percent of all faculty are not on the tenure track. Adjunct faculty, now the majority of teaching faculty across the country, typically have no job security, no benefits and low pay , which forces adjuncts to string together jobs at multiple colleges and universities to make ends meet.

At the same time, revenues and tuition have increased steadily over the last two decades while spending on instruction has declined — and it’s adjuncts and their deeply-in-debt students who are suffering as a result.

Michael O’Bryan teaches in the English Department at Washington University. “This is a great day for faculty, students, and the entire community of higher education in St. Louis and throughout the region,” he said. “This victory is an important step toward improving the labor conditions of university faculty and, consequently, the learning experience of the students taught by those faculty. We look forward to enhancing Wash U’s already exemplary record of service to its students and to the St. Louis community.”

St. Louis adjunct faculty are following in the footsteps of adjuncts at nearly 20 universities who have joined Adjunct Action in the past two years, including Dominican University, St. Mary’s College and Otis College of Art and Design in California who voted to join SEIU in the last week.

They join faculty at the Howard University and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Tufts University and Northeastern University in Boston who have all voted for unionization in order to strengthen their voices and improving working conditions for all part-time faculty in America.

Darcie Star teaches dance at Washington University. “By uniting in solidarity to form our union we are part of building a positive future and creating sustainable change for those working in higher education,” she said. “This victory gives a voice to improved conditions for both faculty and students, as well as offering a platform for communication of needs and desires of those who provide service to the future generations.”
—Adjunct Action

Kishwaukee College faculty files intent to strike

By Fox Valley
Labor News staff
Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015

Kishwaukee College teachers may strike

Kishwaukee College teachers used the recent winter break to distribute literature pertaining to the status of negotiations. Photo courtesy of Kishwaukee College Education Association

After months of the school’s bad faith bargaining, faculty takes an important step in the direction of a work stoppage

MALTA — The Kishwaukee College Education Association (KCEA) filed an intent to strike Jan. 5 with the Illinois Education Relations Board (IELRB), allowing the faculty to walk off the job as early as Jan. 16 if they do not reach an agreement with the School’s Board of Trustees. The filing does not guarantee the faculty will strike, but it gives the faculty that option if the college continues to bargain in bad faith.

Last week the faculty filed unfair labor practice complaints with the IELRB against the administration for violating the terms of bargaining and interfering with the faculty’s free speech rights. College representatives threatened to have faculty arrested for distributing literature pertaining to the status of negotiations.

Faculty members used the winter break to inform the public about the status of negotiations through public leafleting. The KCEA bargaining team also used winter break to work on its latest proposal, which it will present to administration. The two sides are set to meet with a third-party mediator Jan. 12.

“We hope it doesn’t come to this, but as the school administration continues to spread half-truths and misinformation about the negotiations process, we have little choice but to file an intent to strike,” said KCEA negotiator and history teacher Jennifer Jossendal.

“The administration keeps repeating to the public that they are offering us a proposal that includes raises. We crunched the numbers over and over again and we found that the current proposal does not include a raise for most of our educators and many of them will see a decrease in pay in addition to dramatic decreases in benefits. Kishwaukee College has nearly a million dollar surplus that increases by almost half a million dollars each year. We aren’t asking for the world, just a contract that reflects the work we put in every day to give our students the education they deserve,” Jossendal explained.

“I am a graduate of the College and I became an educator here because of the world-class education I received from Kishwaukee faculty. I fear that the cut backs the administration is trying to push on the faculty will prevent people like me from returning here to teach when other comparable schools offer salaries that are far more competitive,” said KCEA President and math teacher Matt Read.

“Kishwaukee College faculty includes a Jeopardy champion, a published award-winning author, and scores of educators who go above and beyond every day for the students they serve. The administration risks pushing out these outstanding educators through the games it plays at the negotiating table,” Read added.
—Kishwaukee College Education Association

Fallen heroes stand on one promise

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised (Romans 4:20).”

Abraham is called the father of faith. God told him, “Look toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your offspring be (Genesis 15:5).” The next verse is one hallmark of the Christian faith: “And he believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness.” But that is only part of the story.

Twice Abraham lied about his wife for fear of losing her. Don’t get the idea he was a coward. Abraham knew how to fight, but sometimes the best buckle under pressure. When Pharaoh of Egypt heard about Sarah’s beauty, Abraham said she was a sister and let her go. Years later, when you think he knew better, he gave her away to the King of Gerar. Both times God protected Sarah. Both times the kings discovered the truth and, fearing God’s wrath, gave Sarah back (read these in Genesis chapters 12 and 20).

In another embarrassing saga, Abraham attempted to have a baby with the house servant (with Sarah’s consent). God wasn’t pleased with their pragmatism. The result was strife and a fractured family. While Abraham did many heroic things, his failures tell us he needed a Savior like everyone else. Here’s a side note: Be wary of churches that make their founders into superheroes. “So neither he who plants, nor he who waters, is anything, but only God Who gives the growth (1st Corinthians 3:7).”

When a person repents from sin and places trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, God grants forgiveness of sins, fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. The promise rests on faith, which God provides.

Christians often become discouraged because they do things without trusting God. Worry, anger and stress frustrate faith and peace passes away. In these times, we remember God is able to do what He promised. “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for her whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything (1st John 3:19-20).”

In spite of our weakness and sin, God’s plan works. The sacrifice of His precious Son doesn’t mostly provide forgiveness — it is completely sufficient to save. The resurrection of Christ doesn’t mostly guarantee victory over sin and death — it triumphs absolutely.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).”

Remembering God’s grace increases worship. As a Christian thinks about the cross where Jesus died, the blood reminds him of his weaknesses and sin. As he continues to think about the cross, he is intrigued of the supreme love Jesus. These meditations are humbling and lead to crystal clear streams of joy.

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“A nation without religion, in my estimation, is as great a paradox as an honest Man without the fear of God. Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will towards Men?”
—Letters of Abigail Adams (1744-1818), Second First Lady of the United States (source:presidentialprayerteam.org)

Civil right champion to attend CTU MLK breakfast

By Fox Valley
Labor News staff
Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015

MLK breakfast

First event sold out, second King day event added for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and rally

CHICAGO — Due to overwhelming demand, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has added a second event to its celebration of the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The 4th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Clergy Breakfast will go on as planned at 9 a.m., Jan. 15, at the Kroc Center, 1250 W. 119th St., in Chicago. A second event has been added the same day at 4 p.m., at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St. in Chicago. Both events are free and open to the public.

At both events, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and architect of North Carolina’s Moral Monday Forward Together Movement, will again speak on the legacy of Dr. King and the importance of putting his dream into action.

The 9 a.m. breakfast is sponsored by the CTU and Parents, Educators & Clergy for Education (P.E.A.C.E.), a coalition of local teachers, retirees, parents, faith-based leaders and others united in addressing poverty, race and class issues impacting the more than 400,000 public school students throughout the city.

Past speakers at the commemorative clergy breakfast have included the prolific voices of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ, and Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP.

As president of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, Rev. Barber also serves on the historic group’s national board of directors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration at North Carolina Central University, then went on to complete a master’s degree from Duke and a doctorate from Drew University in public policy and pastoral care.

Like in Chicago and elsewhere, North Carolina citizens were faced with regressive attacks on the poor, workers, African-Americans, Latinos, women, students, the sick and elderly. Answering the call for moral courage, Rev. Barber, along with 16 other ministers and activists, peacefully petitioned their representatives on Jones Street in late April 2013 where the state capitol is located.

Then, for 62 consecutive weeks, the Forward Together Moral Movement as led by the civil rights champion, protested an avalanche of regressive policies through more than 122 rallies and actions, leading to more than 1,000 arrests for civil disobedience in the state legislature and involving tens of thousands of demonstrators with more than 80,000 people participating in a single day at the height of the campaign.

In addition to music from the Morgan Park High School Boys Chorus, spoken word performances and recollections of Dr. King’s work, the spotlight will be given to the Chicago’s rising youth movement against police brutality and fight for education equity.

The federal Martin Luther King Holiday is celebrated the third Monday of each January, however, the civil rights icon was actually born Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Ga. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was cut down in his prime by an assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968.
—Chicago Teachers Union

Court security sergeants ratify first contract

By Fox Valley
Labor News staff
Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015

Kane_County_Sergeants

In addition to increased wages, the new contract improves the officers’ vacation accrual, equalizes their overtime, provides benefits for any leave of absence and better establishes their classification seniority. Photo courtesy of Teamsters Local 330

Teamster law enforcement members secure better wages, improved benefits

ST. CHARLES — Kane County Court Security Sergeants represented by Teamsters Local 330 unanimously voted to ratify their first union contract, which strengthens their wages and benefits.

The three sergeants maintain a safe and orderly environment at Kane County’s 16th Judicial Circuit Court, while supervising 34 additional police officers. In voting to finalize the three-year agreement, the Local 330 members secured a cumulative 7 percent wage increase and the security of the Teamsters’ powerful grievance procedure up to and including arbitration.

The Court Security Sergeants voted to join Local 330 in June 2014.

“The Kane County Court Security Sergeants are selfless, dedicated public servants who are now proud new members of Local 330,” said Teamsters Local 330 President Dominic Romanazzi. “It is an honor to include them in the ranks of our Teamster membership, and it is a privilege for the local union to work alongside them to negotiate one of the best possible contracts among Kane County law enforcement.”

In addition to increased wages, the new contract improves the officers’ vacation accrual, equalizes their overtime, provides benefits for any leave of absence and better establishes their classification seniority. The Teamster members will also be compensated for meals and any travel time associated with approved employment trainings.
—Teamsters Local 330

Salvation, light and glory

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).”

An old Jewish priest named Simeon was serving in the temple. The LORD promised he would not die until he saw the Messiah. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus into the temple for consecration, Simeon recognized the Messiah right away. What followed were the words of the passage above. Simeon’s three references to Jesus are salvation, light and glory.

Most people don’t understand the need for salvation. They dismiss or refuse to recognize their hidden enemy. The enemy’s oppression is a subtle thing because it uses our wrong desires against us. Man wants to believe in something to bring him contentment — and he will look in every direction except God. Idolatry deceives us because it actually works for a season. We become like the idols we cherish. As idols can’t see, speak, hear or breathe, so we are blind, mute, deaf and dead. We don’t know the way of peace.

Redemption is tied with salvation because God must pay a price for our idolatry. The standard of God’s justice is high, so the price is high as well. God’s Son offered His own life as redemption for those who turn from idolatry and trust in Him. Only He can save us from the great power of sin and evil.

“The unfolding of Your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple (Psalms 119:130).” When you see how God’s word sheds light on life, you will see where the light originates. Studying God’s word gives us a deeper understanding of Jesus, the Life and the Light of the World. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4).” As much as we need salvation, we need Jesus as our Light in a dark world. Jesus gives light to those in darkness. He opens blind eyes. As you learn and believe in Jesus, you will see things about God’s wisdom you never knew.

Supreme glory satisfies. If we were created in God’s image, we can experience His glory in our lives. Through salvation in Jesus alone, one may partake in His holiness. How? By studying and believing in the goodness of Christ. Study forgiveness. Study the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5). Give thanks for what He has done. Emulate Him. Cherish His moral principles. Trust in His forgiveness.

Daily believing in the salvation of Christ and spending time in the Light of His Word will lead us in a satisfying glory of action. Our life of labor can be an offering of praise and devotion to the One Who lived and died for us.

“Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11a).”

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“May you have the love of God and his people shed abroad in your hearts by his spirit; and be ready to sacrifice private views and personal interests to the publick good! Shake your hands from bribes of every kind, and when call’d to give your vote, consider seriously what is right in the sight of God, with whom is no respect of persons, or taking of gifts; and act accordingly.”
—Joseph Sewall, Colonial Preacher in Boston (1688–1769), source: consource.org

2014 Top 10 stories that effected Labor and you

By Fox Valley
Labor News staff
Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014

top_10

Unions fight right-to-work in Illinois

With Illinois’ governor-elect Bruce Rauner coming into office next month, it’s feared Illinois will walk the path of Wis. Governor Scott Walker and turn into a right-to-work state, something that will devastate unions, lower wages and limit rights in the workplace. A right-to-work law would end mandatory payment of dues for workers in companies or government organizations with a union presence. While campaigning, Rauner, a venture capitalist, promised to establish “right-to-work” zones in Illinois. Such zones could pit workers against each other.

Rauner says the plan offers fewer tax and regulatory burdens and told the Associated Press that an example of his plan could let municipalities or counties decide on whether to make paying union fees voluntary for unionized workers. Under right-to-work, workers face decreased earnings, unionization rates, and benefits. There is increased inequality and worker fatalities. Tax revenues would also decline by a projected $1.5 billion over the next five years.
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top_9

Walmart faces unrelenting protests against worker disparities

Nationwide this year, Walmart workers organized strikes on Black Friday, in protest of low wages and work hours. Chicago took part in the biggest strike ever, with OUR Walmart (Organization United for Respect at Walmart) leading the charge, a group of former and current employees who is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
In the downtown Chicago protest, several Walmart Black Friday protesters were arrested after blocking a street with peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience.

Members of OUR Walmarts want a future where the company treats Walmart associates with respect and dignity. They have helped build the Walton family fortune, yet are struggling just to get by put food on their table. They are looking for a fair shot, but the silver-spooned Walton family is robbing them of a decent living.
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top_8

Fast food and retail workers Fight for $15

In our Top Ten last year, the Fight for $15 shows up again in 2014 after he call-to-action ramped up protests. Chicago took part in the national Fight for $15 protests several times this year, with 2,000 people flooding the McDonald’s corporate campus in May, and about 50 being arrested for civil disobedience outside fast food locations in September.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, McDonald’s said worker protests might force it to raise wages in 2015. A recent report shows the industry has by far the largest disparity between worker and CEO pay.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said, “Excessive pay disparities pose a risk to share owner value,” and that conversations around inequality should move into the boardrooms of profitable fast-food companies.
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top_7

National and local Post Offices to close

The four postal unions, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), and National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA) are urging their members and postal customers to send a message to outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and the USPS Board of Governors: Stop delaying America’s mail.

According to the APWU, on Jan. 5 2015, the United States Postal Service is slated to lower “service standards” to virtually eliminate overnight delivery — including first-class mail from one address to another within the same city or town, as well as close 82 mail processing and distribution centers. This will delay the mail and cost union jobs.
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top_6

Scabby the Rat, union members battle for better contracts

From teachers to laborers and from funeral workers to sheet metal workers, Scabby the Rat has been standing strong for union members, so it wouldn’t be a Top 10 if Scabby the Rat wasn’t included. Scabby backed several unions in 2014 as union members battled for better contracts.

After more than 18 months of negotiations, UIC faculty held a two-day strike in February, just days before they met with the university for additional negotiation talks. About 1,150 full-time tenured and non-tenured faculty walked out — the first in UIC history.
In Waukegan, schools reopened for students Nov. 3 after Waukegan Teachers’ Council (IFT Local 504) and the Waukegan Community Unit School District #60 reached a three-year contract agreement.

Teamster Local 727’s members have continued to fight Service Corporation International since July 2, 2013 after Service Corporation International (SCI) locked out Chicago-area funeral workers. In late October, SCI accepted Teamsters 727’s offer to enter federal mediation as the union attempts to reach an agreement on a new contract.

Scabby took main stage in May at the Arlington Downs construction project in Arlington Heights. A constant presence by Scabby and other inflatables, motivated contractors to impose a Project Labor Agreement.
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top_5

Northwestern football votes to unionize

Their votes may not be counted for years to come, but in April 2014, Northwestern University football players were allowed to vote in secret whether or not to unionize their non-professional team, the first in college sports to do so.

The player vote followed a March decision by the regional director of the NLRB in Chicago, who ruled players could be considered employees and are eligible to form a union. The decision is being appealed by Northwestern University to the full labor board in Washington.
Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter helped lead the effort with the help of the United Steel Workers. Supporters say a union would help athletes obtain better compensation, medical care for injuries and other benefits.
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top_4

The 2014 election was a tough pill to swallow

In the 2014 election, Labor didn’t go down without a fight, but try as the might, Labor couldn’t deliver voters to the polls, allowing Bruce Rauner to walk his way right into the Governor’s seat. Rauner is everything labor unions in Illinois fear.

He has promised to establish “right-to-work” zones in Illinois and dramatically revise the state’s public employee retirement system. He’s launched bromides against “government union bosses” and touted his donations to charter schools.

“Organized labor did their part, I can tell you that much,” Kane County Chairman Mark Guethle. He manned countless evenings phone banking events. “This is what happens when people don’t vote,” he explained.
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top_3

Illinois’ pension reform bill ruled unconstitutional

Illinois’ pension trouble was our 2013 No. 1 story impacting labor. This year, it remains on the Top 10 list.

Senate Bill 1, known as Illinois’ pension reform bill, was ruled unconstitutional in November by a Sanagamon County Circuit Court Judge, setting up an immediate appeal to the state’s highest court. The bill was originally passed Dec. 3, 2013.

We Are One Illinois said it is gratified by the court’s ruling, which makes clear the Illinois Constitution means what it says. “The court held, as our unions have long argued, the state cannot simply choose to violate the Constitution and diminish or impair retirement benefits if politicians find these commitments inconvenient to keep.”
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top_2

Illinois voters approve minimum wage hike

In mid-November — after 64 percent of voters agreed that the baseline should be lifted in an election day referendum — state Democrats advanced legislation that would raise the hourly minimum wage in the state from $8.25 to $11 by 2017.

In December, Chicago’s city council voted to raise the city’s minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $13 per hour by 2019 under a mayor-backed plan that cleared the full city council by a 44-5 vote. The law will close a loophole that previously exempted domestic workers from the law, meaning nannies will now be included in the minimum wage ruling. As of Jan. 1, 2015, 29 states and D.C. will have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage. Four states — Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota — approved minimum wage increases through ballot measures in the 2014 general election; Illinois voters approved an advisory measure.

The state of Illinois ranks 9th in the top-to-bottom measure of income inequality. This means that the top 1 percent of households made 24.5 times the average income of the bottom 99 percent in 2011.
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top_1

President Obama streamlines legal immigration

In 2014, fighting for immigration was our No. 10 story impacting labor. In the course of 12 months, it reached our No. 1 spot. President Obama took action through Executive Order to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants living in our country. His decision to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” in the enforcement of federal immigration law means as many as five million undocumented immigrants will not face deportation.

The GOP is at a standstill in figuring out ways to counter Obama, and the House has yet to consider passing an immigration reform bill.

By extending relief and work authorization to immigrants, the Obama Administration will help prevent unscrupulous employers from using unprotected workers to drive down wages and conditions for all workers in our country. During the year, nationwide events were used to convince Obama to use his executive authority to stop deportations, acknowledging the president didn’t have to wait for full immigration reform law to be passed by Congress.