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
labornews.com

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
labornews.com

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 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

nurses_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_strike

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, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

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.