AURORA — Looking for answers to tough questions on how to help less fortunate individuals in her community, Lake in the Hills resident Paula Yensen traveled to Aurora’s Painters District Council 30 Sept. 3 to listen in on a candid discussion regarding the effects of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s cuts to Illinois’ communities.
Yensen, who wears many hats, including executive director of the United Way of Central Kane County, asked a panel of politicians, community and labor leaders the $64,000 question: “What can we do?”
The response seemed unanimous: You get educated and fight like hell.
Sen. Linda Holmes said the Democratic Party needs to get back to its values and what is important to Illinois. “Our social services are in dire straits. We’re hurting our veterans, our seniors and children with developmental disabilities,” she explained.
Without the passing of a state budget since July 1, an impasse has affected vital human service agencies that receive state funding.
Even though Gov. Rauner’s actions and policies have attacked organized labor again, and again, the true entity walking the line of extinction is the middle class — the people who pay the bills in Illinois.
“When the 1 percent makes a little bit more money, I don’t think that money is coming back to Illinois. But when you and I are making money, we spend that money on our kids, on computers, on clothes, and that money comes back into Illinois’ economy. That’s what we need right now for our state to grow — not people being unable to work,” Holmes explained.
There is no argument the middle class is made up of union members — an organization Gov. Rauner is trying to destroy. Instead of focusing on moving Illinois’ budget forward, he is more concerned with pushing his Turnaround Agenda, which consists of anti-worker tactics, the elimination of prevailing wage and the implementation of right to work zones.
Ironworker Local 393 member Dirk Enger said the median income of Kane County was $69,000, which comes from, “hard-working, middle-class families. If we do what the governor wants, and get rid of prevailing wage, how many people do you think would remain within that median income?” He questioned.
Organized labor is here to help, Enger stressed. “When organized labor works on a project, it comes in on budget, under budget and on time.”
Mediator Mark Guethle, the Kane County Democratic Party chairman said there has never been a study done that shows that by repealing prevailing wage, a project will be less expensive.
What you do see in municipalities that don’t have prevail wage policy is out-of-state workers taking projects away from local workers. “What we see is our tax base going out-of-state,” Guethle said.
In the last election cycle, Illinois Federation of Teachers Vice President Dick Manley said his union told its members to vote their pocketbook and to vote the bread and butter issues.
“Unfortunately, we found that some of our members did indeed vote for Rauner. We can only hope they see the error of their ways now,” Manley said.
Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia asked those in attendance to be the goodwill ambassadors for the middle class people in the state. “There are people that can’t even get out of the class they are in. We’ve shut the doors, and slammed the doors in their face, and on their fingers. It is an all out assault on Democratic values of our state.”