Mandrik gearing up for Ward 8 run

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

Paul Mandrik gearing up for Ward 8

Paul Mandrik gearing up for Ward 8 run. Photo courtesy of Naperville Township Democratic Organization

NAPERVILLE — Candidates running for public office know the drill: fundraise, make voter contact, fundraise, know the issues, fundraise, attend governmental meetings, and more fundraising.

Candidate Paul Mandrik, running for Aurora’s 8th Ward Alderman, got off to a great start Jan. 13 where he and supporters gathered for a very early Fat Tuesday fundraising event at the home of White Eagle residents, Marina Reznitskaya and Ramin Mikaili.

Mandrik was joined by supporters, including many who have held public office in the past, are currently in office, or have been candidates themselves.

Guests enjoyed spicy jambalaya, honey sweetened corn bread and even a King Cake, made by Democratic Precinct 20 Committeewoman Rose Johnson. Democratic Precinct 8 Committeeman Max Bochmann was lucky enough to find the little plastic baby baked into the cake which, according to tradition, means Bochmann will be holding next year’s Fat Tuesday’s celebration!

Zydeco music kept the guests entertained and even though the temperature outside registered a shivery 12 degrees, inside it was hot and spicy.

Mandrik discussed his upcoming plans to reach out to voters of Ward 8. Some have already talked with Mandrik regarding issues they are concerned with. Moving forward with campaigning, he’s determined to gather information from voters and to find out what their issues and concerns are.

Mandrik is a 20 year resident of Ward 8, has been actively involved with his neighborhood associations, has been a small business owner and is committed to improving the quality of life for the residents he hopes to represent and serve in the City of Aurora’s 8th Ward.
—American Postal Workers Union

Donahoe: ‘Stop Staples’ campaign is taking a toll

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

American Postal Workers Union

American Postal Workers Union members protest outside an Atlanta Staples to show their solidarity to protect living-wages, union jobs and the Postal Service. Photo courtesy of the American Postal Workers Union

ATLANTA, G.A. — Outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe made headlines when he blamed postal unions and big mailers for the Postal Service’s problems in a recent farewell address, but he made a few other surprising comments as well.

In a Jan. 6 speech to the National Press Club, Donahoe admitted the union’s Stop Staples campaign has “disrupted” the Postal Service’s deal with the office-supply chain. It also has made it more difficult for the United States Postal Service (USPS) to get other businesses to participate in management’s scheme to privatize postal retail operations, he said.

“Just last year, the American Postal Workers Union mounted a protest campaign and disrupted our partnership with Staples,” the Postmaster General said. “Unfortunately, it’s now tougher for us to find retail partners,” he added.

American Postal Workers Union (APWU) President Mark Dimondstein said Donahoe’s statement shows the effectiveness of the Stop Staples campaign.

“When you’re out there telling your co-workers, friends and neighbors not to shop at Staples, you’re making a difference. When you pass out flyers at Staples stores and ask their customers to shop elsewhere, you’re protecting living-wage, union jobs, and you’re protecting the public Postal Service,” Dimondstein said.
Wrong Again

In the speech to reporters, Donahoe mischaracterized the union’s position, saying “the APWU approach is to try to keep all of our transactions in post offices.”

Not true. The union would have considered supporting the pilot if the Staples postal counters were staffed with USPS employees. As the APWU reported, just after President Mark Dimondstein took office in 2013, “In a meeting with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe Nov. 20, the union president insisted that if the plan proceeds, the postal units at Staples must be staffed by career postal employees.”

Dimondstein added, “The APWU supports the expansion of postal services. However, we are adamantly opposed to USPS plans to replace good-paying union jobs with non-union, low-wage jobs held by workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the mail.”

As secret USPS documents later revealed, that was the management’s true motive: To replace Postal Service retail associates with low-wage Staples employees.

“We’re going to continue to fight the Postal Service’s dirty deal with Staples until they get out of the postal business,” Dimondstein said
—American Postal Workers Union

Support continues for striking Kentucky IAM members

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

130 IAM Local 219

Since Oct. 1, more than 130 IAM Local 219 families at Bluegrass Station, Ky., have been on an unfair labor practice strike against government sub-contractor Allsource Global Management. Photo courtesy of IAM

LEXINGTON, KY. — More than 130 IAM Local 219 members employed by Allsource Global Management (AGM) at Bluegrass Station Army Depot in Lexington, Ky. have held the picket line for more than 100 days in everything from tornadic thunderstorms to bitter cold in an unfair labor practice strike.

Major issues of the strike, which began Oct. 1, include demands by the company to reclassify most employees, leading to an average 31 percent wage cut. The company has refused to provide required documents showing the cuts were mandated.

“In negotiations and in the press, AGM blamed the Department of Labor (DOL) and Defense Department for the cuts,” said IAM Southern Territory Communications Representative Bob Wood.

“It’s taken time to peel back the layers, and what we found were lies and deception. We spoke with the government contracting officer overseeing the Lockheed/AGM contract, who said none of it was mandated from any government office,” Wood added.

He explained there were no re-classifications or cuts to any non-union employees at Bluegrass Station. “This points to the very real possibility of illegal collusion and targeting of the union employees, as well as DOL wage avoidance,” Wood said.

The Machinists have forwarded the information to the DOL and Inspector General’s Office, and they believe they are now investigating these allegations. “The Machinists Union is looking at other legal avenues to stop the targeting, end the strike and put everyone back to work,” Wood added.

IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin said his members are proud of the job they do at Bluegrass Station to support our armed forces.

“We have to protect our jobs, and our ability to make a living. We are standing strong for our rights,” Blondin said.

Donations for the local have poured in from IAM district and locals from across the U.S. and Canada. “The continued support from our brothers and sisters is what has enabled this strike to continue strong,” said Blondin.

Rauner takes unfair potshot at public employees

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

SPRINGFIELD — New Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s Jan. 12 inaugural address identified big challenges facing state government. With the expiration of previous temporary personal and corporate income tax rates threatening to drain more than $3 billion from the state budget this year alone — and with that budget already significantly short-funded in key agencies that need supplemental appropriations — there’s no question those challenges are real. And no one has more at stake in helping solve them than AFSCME members who work on the front lines of state government.

Unfortunately, though, Gov. Rauner used the occasion of the speech to dis public employees, alleging that, “We have a state government that too few have faith in” because Illinoisans “see government union bosses negotiating sweetheart deals across the table from governors they’ve spent tens of millions to help elect.”

AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said the governor’s claim has absolutely no basis in reality and that the truth is her union has always negotiated in good faith with governors of both parties, those AFSCME Council 31 endorsed and those it didn’t.

“In every case, negotiations were tough but fair and based on mutual respect. While the suggestion of so-called ‘sweetheart deals’ implies unfairness or overpayment of some kind, the fact is that state employee pay increases have been in line with others in comparable jobs, as have the significant amounts employees contribute toward their health insurance and retirement benefits.

“AFSCME members in state government keep prisons safe, care for veterans and people with disabilities, protect kids from abuse and do much more,” Lynch said.

She went on to add that these hard-working men and women don’t have millions of dollars to pour into political campaigns, but they do have a deep commitment to serving the people of Illinois and every right to participate in the democratic process through their union.

In a newspaper story, Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said organized labor “will work with [Rauner] whenever we can, and if we need to, we’ll also work against his legislation.”

The article went on to quote two state senators: “Illinois’ middle class was built by unions. They ensure working men and women receive honest pay for an honest day’s work,” said state Sen. Gary Forby, a Benton Democrat and chairman of the Illinois Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. “I don’t understand why some politicians push so hard to take that away.”

State Sen. Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat added that the midwest was once the hub of the labor movement, but many neighboring states have spent the past few decades enacting policies that lead to slashed employee benefits, decreased wages and outsourced jobs.

“These shortsighted policies cripple working class families, which ultimately places a greater burden on our middle class,” Manar explained.

Gov. Rauner’s speech was vague about possible solutions to the state’s budget problems. As he seeks to tackle those problems, it is critical he include the input of frontline employees who know what’s working, what’s not and how state government can deliver vital public services more effectively.

—AFSCME Council 31

‘Without knowledge, everything is dark’

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

Teamsters Local 727 member Berhane Hailemichael

Teamsters Local 727 member Berhane Hailemichael says, “Being in a union has allowed me to work to improve life for myself and my community.” Photo courtesy of Teamsters Joint Council 25

CHICAGO — Berhane Hailemichael has played myriad roles throughout his life. Freedom fighter. Refugee. Husband. Father. Student. Teamster. And in every role, he said one thing he always carries with him is hope.

“HOPE stands for Honest, Optimistic, Patient, Energetic. That is my anthem,” said Hailemichael, 53. “If you have hope, then you can do anything.”

Hailemichael was born in the African nation of Eritrea. At 16, he joined the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front as a freedom fighter and spent 14 years fighting for his country’s independence from Ethiopian rule.

“Nobody forced me to join. I wanted my country to be free,” he said. “I didn’t see my family for 14 years. After 14 years, my mother didn’t recognize me. I left a boy and came back a man.”

In 2000, Hailemichael came to North America as a journalist and diplomat, touring the United States and Canada. A year later, he sought asylum and brought his wife and two children to the U.S., where they have lived ever since.

Hailemichael and his family settled in Chicago. He found work with Standard Parking and joined Teamsters Local 727. At that time, Hailemichael said he was working “nine days a week” — five shifts as a garage attendant with Standard Parking and then two double shifts at a nursing home on the weekends — because his dream was to buy a house for his family.

He realized it when he bought a home in Evanston years later. But he wasn’t done dreaming.

Hailemichael next turned his attention to education for his children and for himself. His daughter and son are attending college. Hailemichael said he has tried to instill his work ethic in his children.

“I tell my kids, ‘You have no excuse to get low grades. School is your only job,’” he said. “If you have confidence, work hard, study and use time management, it’s no big secret.”

In 2010, Hailemichael attended Northeastern University. His Standard Parking supervisor, Local 727 member Debra Bolden, worked with him to arrange his schedule to accommodate classes and exams.

“I understand the value of education. I told Berhane, ‘You have a dream, and I want to help you,’” Bolden said.

Hailemichael continued working full-time at 311 S. Wacker Dr., where he is the assistant facilities manager, while working toward his degree. In 2014, he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in Justice Studies and a 3.85 GPA.

He said none of this would have been possible without the Teamsters Union and Local 727’s Educational Assistance benefit, which provides up to $10,000 in tuition reimbursement per year for each plan participant’s dependents.

“The union supports us. It’s been a blessing and has helped secure our lives,” Hailemichael said. “Without the educational assistance, we couldn’t do this. The union gave me and my children the ability to concentrate on school.”

Hailemichael isn’t done dreaming. He next wants to earn a master’s degree.

“If it takes me until I retire to finish my master’s, I don’t care,” Hailemichael said. “Education is something no one can take away from me. The knowledge is mine. With education, you can be successful. Without knowledge, everything is dark.”

He recently applied for and received a grant from United Nations University, and he currently is taking five online classes related to justice studies, human rights and human trafficking. He said it’s time for him to do his part to make the world a better place.

“Being in a union has allowed me to work to improve life for myself and my community. I am able to continue my education because of the union,” Hailemichael said. “Now, I have to do something to give back and contribute to my community.”

Hailemichael said time management, a strong work ethic and hope are what allow him to succeed in all facets of his life. He’s an exemplary Standard Parking employee, never misses monthly union membership meetings and excels in the classroom, where he often is the oldest student. But his past struggles also put things in perspective as he pursues his dreams.

“Compared with the past, any problem I face is nothing,” Hailemichael said. “When I was a freedom fighter, I would live four days without food. I was separated from my family. I did what I had to do to survive. So now, everything I face is easy because I’ve already been through the hardest things one can imagine.”

“I always say impossible is possible. Strong will, hard work, strong discipline. If you do this, impossible is possible.”
—Teamsters Joint Council 25

King’s final march

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Decades after his death, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t have possibly know we would remember his famous dream and his fight for civil and human rights — rights that have always resonated with organized labor.

Union members can never forget that Martin Luther King Jr. was supporting striking sanitation workers when he was killed in the spring of 1968 in Atlanta, Ga.

He was there protesting with 1,300 AFSCME sanitation workers who were on strike. Marchers in the streets carried “I am a man” signs to emphasize workers were human beings deserving of a respectable living wage.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said King spoke out against the kind of capitalism that sacrifices people for the sake of profits.
“We must speak out just as forcefully against an economy in which so many working women and men are struggling to care for their families, even as they work harder than ever,” Saunders explained.

King had much to say on matters of social justice and how it might be achieved, and that message has relevance all days of the year, not just when we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Nationwide, organized labor came together to mourn, celebrate and march in memory of Dr. King.

The AFL-CIO held a 5-day Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference in Atlanta to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King and to commemorate the accomplishments of the civil rights movement.


“This conference reinforces the historic bond between the labor and civil rights movements and honors Dr. King’s vision that collective action — whether at the voting booth or in the workplace — will mobilize participants to continue their work in order to make his dream a reality,” the union said.

Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan said Dr. King’s legacy of is one of remarkable strides toward equality in our country; strides that many generations never saw and could only imagine. Nearly a half-century ago Dr. King identified the critical flaw of economic injustice and now, that flaw continues.

“That is why the union movement was among his most fearless advocates and why he died standing with unions. That is why the union movement today must grow in numbers and strength,” O’Sullivan stressed.

“Brothers and sisters, as we proudly honor Dr. King’s legacy, I urge each of us to use his inspiration to re-dedicate ourselves to what we stand for — justice, honor and strength — and to his mission of equality of all and economic justice for all. Without equality, our honor and strength is undermined,” O’Sullivan added.

North Aurora looks to fill 3 seats on its board

North Aurora trustee Mark Guethle

North Aurora trustee Mark Guethle is running to retain his seat on the North Aurora Village Board in the upcoming April 7 election. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2014
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

NORTH AURORA — Current village trustee Mark Guethle is looking to retain his seat on the North Aurora Village board — but he’s not alone. Four other candidates are running, with only three seats available. Running on the April 7 ballot along with Guethle are incumbents Laura Curtis and Mark Carroll, along with Anise Hesson and Alan Cavender. Each seat is a four-year term.

Guethle was a trustee from 2003 to 2005, and 2009 to the present. Carroll was appointed to the board in May 2014 to replace Ryan Lambert, who quit when he became chief of the North Aurora and Countryside Fire Protection District. Lambert’s term expires this year. Curtis is in her first term as trustee.

Friends and family gathered Jan. 15 to support Guethle at his fundraiser, held at Oak Street Restaurant.

He explained North Aurora is growing. Last year, it acquired 22 new businesses, including Massage Envy, BP Gas Station and a Dunkin’ Donuts. A Marriot Fairfield Inn & Suites is coming to the west side of North Aurora.

“This has happened with the hard work and effort of our board, the mayor and our staff working collectively for the good of our town,” Guethle said.

Village President Dale Berman said Guethle always, “gives it hell,” and expects nothing less from him this election.

North Aurora Village Trustee Mark Guethle. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

From left, Aurora Township Supervisor Bill Catching and North Aurora Village President Dale Berman show their support for village trustee Mark Guethle. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“He’s a tiger. He never quits. I’m proud to have him on our village board and for him to continue to do great things for the village of North Aurora,” Berman said.

The village has a pro-business climate, which has led to four straight years of economic sales growth, and a $3 million surplus from last year.

As Director of Painters District Council 30’s Governmental Affairs, Guethle acknowledged fellow union members who attended his fundraiser. He was proud to announce that photographs of completed projects used on his campaign literature were union projects that came in, “on time and under budget.”

As a 15-year resident of North Aurora, Guethle and his wife Louise are active in the North Aurora Lions Club, North Aurora Days and the Blessed Sacrament Church.

“I feel it’s important to stand up for our community, and that’s what I’m doing. You learn by listening to people,” Guethle said.

UFCW mourns the loss of Int’l VP Chad Young

Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Vice President Chad Young.

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Vice President Chad Young passed away at home Jan. 11. He was 57.

AUSTIN, MINN. — United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Vice President Chad Young passed away at home Jan. 11. He was 57.

As a young man growing up in Austin, Minn., Young was inspired by his father, Roger, who was an active union member and organizer in the United Packinghouse Workers of America, a predecessor union to the UFCW. Young was an accomplished Golden Gloves boxer in his youth, and he carried that fighting spirit with him throughout his life as he fought for workers and their union.

His life was driven completely by two words: union and family. And for Young, those two values were interlocked. The day he first clocked in to work at Hormel Foods in Austin, Minn. in 1981, he joined UFCW Local 9 and began his lifelong career as a fighter for his union family.

He stepped forward to lead as a union steward at Hormel in 1983 and again, later, as a volunteer union organizer where he worked on a number of campaigns in Iowa and Minnesota during a time of great change in the meatpacking industry. Young was also part of a team of UFCW organizers who inspired nurses in Washington State to join together in his union.

Young joined the staff of the UFCW International Union in 1988 and brought his fighting spirit and warm heart to worker campaigns across the country. He played a key role in the early efforts to win a union voice for workers at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel, N.C., serving as a key leader during an election there in 1997.

In 1999, he was promoted to the UFCW International Office as Executive Assistant to the Packing House Director in Washington D.C. In 2005, Young was named Director of Region 5 — South-central, and was elected as an International Vice President in 2006. He was reelected in August 2013 at the UFCW International Convention in Chicago.

Young was a true warrior of the labor movement. He loved being a part of the UFCW. He was proud to wake up every morning and fight for working men and women. He was loved by many for his sense of humor, hearty laugh and passion for the union and its members.

Young is survived by his wife, Lynn Young, his mother Esther Young, daughters Heather Young, Ashley Young, Jamie Colbert and Kelly Colbert, sisters Mona Young and Patti Jo Corey and granddaughters Maya and Cameryn. He is preceded in death by his father Roger Young.

The viewing was held Jan. 14 in Grapevine, Texas wigth a memorial service the following day.
—United Food and Commercial Workers

Being a Labor Democrat

Tom Suhrbur

Tom Suhrbur
Illinois Education
Association (retired)
Special to the Fox
Valley Labor News
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

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

In addition to a vibrant labor movement, the federal “safety net” programs have been essential for the working class and lower middle class. Minimum wage laws put pressure on business to pay higher wages, especially for low paid workers. The federal minimum wage in 1968 was worth 48 percent more in spending power than it is today.

Social Security provides workers with disability insurance, death benefits for their families and a modest pension in retirement. It was the only income for my grandmother. After my father died, it was the sole income for my mother. Two of my brothers would be homeless today without it. A younger brother is on Social Security disability and receives food stamps.

Social Security is the major, if not exclusive, source of income for most family members. Like most moderate and low-income people, family members are just (or barely) getting by on Social Security. Likewise, Medicare is keeping most retirees alive and out of poverty. Medicaid covers many people, especially in old age, not just the poor.

When all of her savings ran out, my mother ended up on Medicaid. Medicaid and her Social Security benefit paid for nursing home care until her death. In the 1960’s and 70’s, life was good for many working class families. Much has changed since then.

The election of President Ronald Reagan was a watershed in American politics. Over the last 35 years, the Republican Party has moved increasingly to the right in its politics. Today, most Republicans support policies that undermine unions, attack the social safety net and shift wealth and income to the wealthiest Americans.

Republicans are unabashedly anti-union. Unions now represent less than 12 percent of the workforce. Since more than half of all union members are public employees, states controlled by Republicans have enacted various schemes to undermine their unions. They support outsourcing public employment for everything from prisons to toll roads and parking meters. They also have stripped public employees of their bargaining rights, cut state pension benefits, passed “right to work” legislation, lowered unemployment benefits and reduced workers’ compensation benefits.

Public education is a special target. About one third of all union members work in public education. Republicans have backed tuition vouchers for private and parochial schools. Their support for charter schools is largely based on creating a union free school system.

At the federal level, Republicans have sponsored various proposals to weaken (or eliminate) OSHA, unemployment insurance, unemployment compensation and workers’ compensation. During the Reagan and the two Bush administrations, appointments to the federal bench and the National Labor Relations Board have been anti-union. They too avidly support privatization of public employment to create investment opportunities for their corporate sponsors and to diminish labor unions.