Troubled multi-employer plans show need for single-payer

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This is a 2-part series that examines the role of multi-employer health care plans versus single-payer health insurance.

Anne Scheetz, MD, is a member of Physicians for a National Health Program and a founding member of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition. Hale Landes is a member of IBEW Local 134 and the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition.

Multi-employer or Taft-Hartley plans — a “made-in-America” source of health coverage and other benefits for more than 20 million U.S. workers, retirees, and their families — are under serious threat.

The threat has two sources: the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the fragmented, for-profit nature of the U.S. health care system, which the ACA re-enforced, rather than corrected.

Some union leaders held up the multi-employer plans as a good model for health system reform. In contrast to private for-profit health insurance companies, the plans, by law, serve their members, not passive investors.

They are more efficient than the insurance companies, devoting less than 10 percent of their outlay to administrative expenses (and more than 90 percent to health care), as opposed to the insurance companies’ 15 to 20 percent.

They tend to have high actuarial value, covering on average 87 percent of enrolles’ health care expenses, as compared to 90 percent for the platinum plans (which most people cannot afford) offered on the insurance exchanges, and 60 percent for the bronze plans.

Needless to say, this recommendation was not adopted. On the contrary, the ACA not only left the for-profit insurance companies in charge of health care, but created new disadvantages for multi-employer plans.

Perhaps most importantly, the ACA does not allow low-income workers who are enrolled in multi-employer plans to qualify for the government subsidies that are available to low-income people who buy insurance from for-profit insurance companies on the insurance exchanges.

Multi-employer plans are nonetheless taxed to pay for the subsidies, just like the insurance companies whose customers can benefit from them.

The ACA presents numerous other challenges to multi-employer plans as well, such as the unfunded mandate to cover children up to age 26; and administrative burdens whose costs will shift money away from health care.

Still other challenges apply to all workers. Penalties for companies that don’t offer health insurance are much less than the cost of insurance, do not apply to those that employ less than 50 workers, and do not apply to part-time workers. Employers are responding by cutting the number of employees, cutting hours, and sending employees to the insurance exchanges, among other practices that harm workers and their families.

The so-called Cadillac tax, which penalizes plans with high premiums, or, in the case of the multi-employer plans, high benefit payments, will also hurt the plans, and will most hurt those plans with a large number of older and sicker enrollees.

The National Coordinating Committee for Multi-employer Plans and many unions have responded to the problems posed by the ACA by lobbying for various amendments, and a few have called for its repeal.

Yet, the plans face serious challenges — even without the ACA.

Costs throughout the health care system are escalating. The consolidation of hospitals and physician practices allows providers to drive up prices. Prices for specialty drugs are rising almost 20 times as fast as prices for conventional drugs, and the prices of even some old and standard drugs are increasing faster than the rate of inflation. Administrative costs are increasing — for the whole system, they now total at least $350 billion per year.

The question of who will pay these increasing costs — employers or workers — has become a frequent cause of contract disputes. At best, workers have sacrificed wage increases to pay for health care, and this trend will continue.

The increasing costs are a significant challenge to worker solidarity. Some workers are denied equal benefits based on hours of work or length of employment, weakening union strength just as it is most needed. As is happening throughout the health care system, the funds are shifting more costs to their enrollees through co-pays for some services, a policy that penalizes the sick and burdens most those earning the lowest pay.

Amending the ACA — a very difficult task, given its complexity, will not solve these problems. Even a health reform modeled on the multi-employer plans would not solve these problems.

The solution is a single-payer health care system, also called expanded and improved Medicare for all. This reform proposal is the only proposal to address all of the problems faced by the multi-employer plans and all workers.

Under a single-payer program, everyone is covered for all medical care with the single payer being the government. Its administrative simplicity is the principal source of cost containment (traditional Medicare’s administrative overhead is only 2 percent). Insurance company marketing, underwriting, profits, and outrageous executive compensation would be eliminated. Furthermore, since everyone would be in the same system, the single payer would also be the single buyer of drugs, medical equipment, and services, thus able to enforce reasonable prices.

Financing would be by a progressive tax. Those who have the most would pay the most, while everyone would receive the care they need when they need it.

In contrast to the current situation, which workers are pitted against each other, under a single-payer system, we will all have an interest in making that system better. A single-payer system promotes rather than undermines, social solidarity.

Other benefits include free choice of providers, instead of the narrow networks that are now commonplace; no interruptions in coverage due to job changes, illness, or retirement; and a much more just workers’ compensation system.

A single-payer health care system is the only way to take health benefits off the bargaining table, leaving unions free to bargain over wages and working conditions.

Union support for a single-payer health care system is strong, although not yet universal. The website of Unions for Single Payer Health Care lists more than 600 labor groups that have endorsed the national single-payer bill, HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Ac,t whose chief sponsor is John Conyers of Michigan. The groups include more than 150 central labor councils from around the country; and 25 groups, including three labor councils, from Illinois.

Fifteen major unions and other labor groups support the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer, which works more on the state level. These include National Nurses United (NNU) for whom a single-payer health care system is an essential aspect of nurses’ professional obligation to advocate for their patients; Young Workers; the National Education Association (NEA); United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (UE); and the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), among others.

At the 2014 AFL-CIO Convention, delegates affirmed their support for a single-payer system; and activists with the Labor Campaign challenged organized labor to “finish the job” of health care reform by making health care a human right.

On July 30 of this year, NNU will lead the celebration of Medicare’s 50th anniversary with the message: “Medicare – as American as apple PIE: Protect, Improve, Expand.”

Illinois’s single-payer bill, the Illinois Universal Health Care Act, currently HB 108, has been introduced in each General Assembly since 2007 by chief sponsor Mary Flowers of Chicago. Although it will not pass in the near future, it articulates the vision of the single-payer movement for the people of Illinois and the U.S., and serves as an educational and organizing tool. The Illinois Single-Payer Coalition and its Labor Outreach Committee work with local labor groups, as well as the national organizations toward a future guarantee for all people of access to all necessary health care, and of financial protection in the case of illness or injury.

Labor is surely the sector that can best lead the way to the solidarity expressed in the single-payer movement’s slogans: “Everybody in, nobody out,” and “One nation, one health plan.”

A rally in the rain against Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda

Rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner

Rain didn’t deter the determination of union members who showed up in force in Oak Forest June 15 for a rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner and his Turnaround Agenda. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

You can view videos of the Gaelic Park union protest by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel

OAK FOREST — It was no surprise Gov. Bruce Rauner (once again) entered through the back door of a building where his supporters inside were waiting to hear him discuss his Turnaround Agenda.

June 15, Rauner conveniently avoided the thick union presence at the front entrance of the Chicago Gaelic Park in Oak Forest, unwilling to confront union members to take their questions about repealing prevailing construction wage and scaling back workers’ compensation.

Rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner

Hundreds of union members gathered in the parking lot of Oak Forest’s Chicago Gaelic Park to rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner’s discussing his Turnaround Agenda. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Rauner spoke at the multi-chamber event with the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce. Rauner was visiting the Southland to speak about his Turnaround Agenda, asking the mostly civic and business leaders to urge their state legislators to support his Turnaround Agenda.

While inside, hundreds of union members across Chicagoland gathered outside to rally against to Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, where even hard driving rain wouldn’t keep them away. When Rauner was situated inside, members entered the lobby where they chanted “Rauner, Rauner — we say no. Right to Work has got to go.”

Rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner

A Sheet Metal Worker Local 73 member holds a sign to vehicles arriving at the Chicago Gaelic Park to hear Gov. Bruce Rauner speak on his Turnaround Agenda. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

As Rauner’s caravan exited the parking lot, one union members said, “I hope he likes term limits — because he’s going to be a one term governor.”

Rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner

An Iron Worker Local 5 member holds a sign to vehicles arriving at the Chicago Gaelic Park to hear Gov. Bruce Rauner speak on his Turnaround Agenda. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

We can’t forget that as a candidate, Rauner repeatedly vowed to “shut down state government” in order to weaken the rights and drive down the wages of public service workers. Since taking office, he has pushed for budget cuts that are harmful to children, seniors and middle-class families, instead of working together with lawmakers to solve real problems. And he has traveled the state giving speeches that attack working people, especially public service workers.

Shutting down McDonald’s Headquarters

Fight for $15

Over two days, Fight for $15 protesters came to McDonald’s Headquarters in Oak Brook to call on executives to raise wages for employees. Photo courtesy of Fight for $15

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, May 28, 2015

OAK BROOK — In two days of protesting May 20 and 21 at McDonald’s Headquarters, thousands of protesters urged the mega-corporation pay workers $15 an hour.

Shortly before noon May 20, people who had gathered west of McDonald’s campus began walking east towards the headquarters. About 100 protesters were arrested for trespassing as they temporarily blocked two streets around the McDonald’s campus.

The Fight for $15 campaign is being spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry called on McDonald’s to sit with the union at a national bargaining table and put some of its profits into the pockets of workers.

“Even when we get $15 and a union we will keep fighting,” Henry said.

May 21 protesters were there for the company’s annual shareholder meeting. Ten of those protesters were allowed deliver a petition with more than 1 million signatures calling for $15-per-hour wages and talked to company representatives.

McDonald’s Oak Brook Headquarters

McDonald’s Oak Brook Headquarters swarmed with wage protesters fighting for union representation and a living wage of $15 an hour. Photo courtesy of Fight for $15

Earlier this year, McDonald’s said it would raise its starting pay for workers to $1 above the local minimum wage. Labor organizers said the move falls short because it only applies to company-owned stores. Unfortunately, McDonald’s Corp. only owns about 10 percent of its stores in the U.S. — the rest are run by franchisees.

McDonald’s maintains franchisees are independent owner-operators setting their own policies and wages while adhering to corporate standards on food preparation and restaurant design.

The May 21 shareholders meeting is the first under CEO Steve Easterbrook, who took the helm March 1. Easterbrook’s goal is to turn McDonald’s into a “modern, progressive burger company.”

Faces of McDonalds

McDonald’s also finds itself battling various complaints of labor law violations filed in state and federal courts and with federal agencies.

SEIU alleges McDonald’s shares responsibility for employees with franchisees as a joint-employer. The National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel agreed with the union, charging McDonald’s as a joint-employer in 19 complaints outlining 101 labor law violations, including allegations that the company reduced the hours of workers who have participated in protests against the company.

Cop on Top helps fund Special Olympics Illinois

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cop on Top

Aurora Police Sgt. Greg Podschweit was among APD officers who staked out the roof of Dunkin Donuts in Aurora May 29 to benefit Special Olympics Illinois. Photo courtesy of Al Benson

CHICAGO — For the 13th year in a row, hundreds of law enforcement officers from throughout the state were staking out Dunkin’ Donuts rooftops May 29 to benefit Special Olympics Illinois.

Police officers covered 196 Dunkin’ Donuts rooftops to raise awareness and donations for the Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics Illinois.

Aurora Police officers and support personnel ended up raising a record amount of money for their efforts — Just under $9,300 was raised between the Aurora Dunkin Donuts at 1237 N. Eola Rd.; 2380 S. Eola; 2112 W. Galena Blvd.; and 1255 N. Farnsworth Ave. The events were part of annual statewide fundraisers for Special Olympics. Members of the Aurora Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association also sold a variety of Special Olympics Torch Run memorabilia at each location.

Kathy Hart from the “Eric and Kathy Show” on 101.9 FM, “The Mix”, broadcasted live from the Galena Dunkin’ Donuts between 7 and 9 a.m.
APD events have raised a total of $13,000 for Special Olympics so far in 2015. Several more fund raisers are planned throughout the remainder of the year.

Last year, Aurora Police Officers raised more than $17,600 for the charity so the department will again appear on the back of the official 2015 Special Olympics Torch Run T-shirt for the seventh consecutive year.

In honor of the Special Olympics athletes and police officers supporting the rooftop event, Dunkin’ Donuts will donate $15,000 to the Torch Run Fund.

Eric & Kathy Mornings 101.9fm The MIX Chicago

Eric & Kathy Mornings 101.9fm The MIX Chicago was at the Dunkin’ Donuts, 2112 W. Galena Blvd. in Aurora. Photo courtesy of Dunkin’ Donuts

Each guest who visited a Cop on a Rooftop location May 29 and made a donation to the Torch Run received a free donut coupon. Guests who donated at least $10 received a Law Enforcement Torch Run travel mug and a coupon for free medium coffee. Other items, such as Torch Run T-shirts and hats, were sold for various donation amounts. Additional activities varied by Dunkin’ Donuts location.

“Nearly $2 million has been raised from this event and we’re hoping to set new records this year,” said Illinois Torch Run Director and Sherman Police Chief Eric Smith. “It’s a fun event that works.”

Crestwood Police Department

Members and volunteers with the Crestwood Police Department raised $6,985. Photo courtesy of Crestwood Police Department

The Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised more than $35 million over 29 years while increasing awareness of Special Olympics Illinois athletes and their accomplishments. Each year, more than 3,000 officers cover 1,500 miles carrying the Flame of Hope through the streets of their hometowns and to the State Summer Games in Normal in June. It is the single largest year-round fundraising vehicle benefiting Special Olympics Illinois.

The intrastate relay and its various fundraising projects have two goals: to raise money and increase public awareness for the athletes of Special Olympics. The Torch Run has set a goal of raising $4 million in 2015.

For more information about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562 or find out more at: Special Olympics Illinois.

Midwest training facility ramping up for students

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

At the United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility, students learn the skills needed to take them to the next level and secure a job in the pipe welding industry. Photo courtesy of “SMAW” by Mgschuler via Wikipedia

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

AURORA — Since October 2014, the United Association Local 597 Midwest Training Facility has been in the state of a “soft opening,” bringing in hand fulls of welding students on a weekly basis, teaching them on state-of-the-art equipment, and polishing their skills, but now, the facility is ready to take on an influx of students.

Recently, the Aurora training center has been ramping up its efforts to get the word out — nationwide — on what UA Marketing Representative Chad Dawson calls, “the best kept secret in the Midwest.”

“We’re reaching out to everybody we can — people in the nonunion sector, students from welding schools, unions, anyone we can reach out to, to tell them about this opportunity. We’re offering to bring them in, evaluate their skills, and then better their already existing skills. We’ll certify them, make them a member in a local union somewhere across the country, preferably where they live, or where there’s a high demand for work,” Dawson explained.

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

At the Aurora United Association Local 597 Midwest Training Facility, students get the highest quality of training to keep their skills up-to-date. No other organization serves the training needs of the piping industry. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Pipe welders are in high demand, especially in heavy industrial.

In December, both Rep. Bill Foster and UA International Representative Mark Buss toured the facility for the first time. Buss said all you have to do is look at the current, nation-wide domestic energy boom to see that pipe welders are in high demand. “Opportunities out there are just tremendous,” he said, pointing to the Northeast in the Utica and Marcellus shales area in New York; the Gulf Coast, such as Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, and North Dakota.

Dawson said the majority of the vehicles in the training facility’s parking lot are from out-of-state.

Students currently undergoing training are expanding their welding skills, learning from leading industry professionals, and getting it all for FREE, which can be difficult to believe.

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

Welding instructor Monte Kimes shows Rep. Bill Foster the main computer control panel where adjustments can be made to make sure exact airflow is maintained, based on the number of welders in operation. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Even though a student doesn’t have to pay, it doesn’t mean that he won’t be giving of themselves. Students are required to train four days a week at 10 hour days, and train Saturday and Sunday at 8 hour days. They also are responsible for their own housing, food and entertainment. Local 597 member William Hite Jr. said, “If [students] are under the hood for that many hours, it means they are out of here sooner and working.”

The training center houses 75 weld booths. Instructors also teach the hybrid welding program. At night, HVACR is being taught.
Upon arrival, students are given an evaluation, which will determine where their skill set is at. Hite said the goal is for students to achieve as many certificates as they can.

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

From left, welding instructor Monte Kimes, UA International Representative Mark Buss, Rep. Bill Foster, UA Marketing Representative Chad Dawson and Local 597 Business Representative Scott Roscoe. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

The cost of a for-profit welding school can cost between $18,000 and $30,000 and skills learned can be subpar. “The students that went to for-profit schools are not up to our standards, Dawson said. “The are employed with contractors who never let them better their skills, and they get stuck. At this training facility, we want to catch them before they get stuck in that position and actually show them how to weld pipe on a standard that they never knew they could achieve.”

Three full-time instructors handle any skill set a student has.

“We’re here to welcome the most talented individuals we can come up with,” welding instructor Monte Kimes said. “The opportunity is here, for anybody willing to work hard and has the aptitude for welding.”

Bid Whist history relates to African-Americans

Author Ron Allen

Author Ron Allen’s extensive research into the history of the card game Bid Whist led to the publication of his book, which examines the African-American history of the game. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

NAPERVILLE — The binding threads of the card game Bid Whist are also the threads that bind the lives of African-Americans to Chicago labor history and the nation’s economic advancement.

A detailed look into the creation of Bid Whist, the rich tradition in African-American history, as well as the card games rules, variations and strategies, can be found in the recently published book, The Evolution of Bid Whist: 150 Years in the Growth of an African American Tradition. The game closely resembles Bridge or Spades.

After researching the origins and history of Bid Whist, Naperville resident Ron Allen put everything together and published his book in December 2014. Along the way, he discovered the African-American roots of this card game run deep and strong and are echoed today.

At a recent Naperville Township Democrats Organization meeting, and in honor of Black History Month, Allen discussed with members the ties between the Bid Whist and African-American history. Much of Allen’s researched focused on the Pullman Porters and other notable African-Americans.

Engineer and industrialist George Pullman designed and manufactured the Pullman sleeping car and founded the Pullman company town, near Chicago, for the workers who manufactured it. His Pullman Company also hired freed African-American men to staff the Pullman cars, who became known and widely respected as Pullman porters, providing elite service.

“The Pullman porters could travel for free or at huge discounts to any cities along the route of the railroad.” Allen explained. “This mobility enabled the Pullman porters to carry the game of Bid Whist from the south to the rest of the country.”

Because of their status as working African-Americans who also earned a decent wage — enough to put them into the middle class — the Pullman Porters established themselves as an important part of black history and were admired my many. In 1925, under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph, workers formed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. It was the first labor organization led by African-Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor. The union went on to face one of the largest labor disputes in Chicago history.

While growing up on the west side of Chicago, Allen recalled playing Bid Whist with neighborhood friends. “Bid Whist took me off the streets when there was a growing increase of gangs in the neighborhood,” he said.

What started as a card game in the 1860s, played by slaves in the south, has transitioned into a rich history of diversity and pride for those who brought the game to others across the country. Those Pullman Porters who carried the game to cities along the rail road also became predominate figures in African-American history, becoming successful business owners, elected officials, doctors lawyers and military leaders.

“Diversity is a natural part of human evolution, and a gift from our Creator. Nature should be our guideline for diversity because it accomplishes beauty and harmony with the use of all the colors of the rainbow,” Allen said.

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 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

“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