Arbitrator: State must pay 2 percent wage increase

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

An independent arbitrator ruled that the state must pay a 2 percent wage increase to state workers, an increase that was contractually obligated but was being challenged by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. The decision serves as a powerful enforcement that collective bargaining is strong in Illinois, and workers contracts are just as binding as any other contract.
Quinn is appealing the ruling by arbitrator Edwin Benn, saying cancellation of the raises would affect about 30,000 state workers and shave $75 million off the state budget.
Mary Shesgreen of Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice was positive about the decision, but not Quinn’s appeal.
“We are very pleased that the arbitrator made the right decision. Contracts with workers are just as sacred as any other contract. If the arbitrator had decided otherwise, it would have been a terrible precedent,” she said. “We’re deeply disappointed that Gov. Quinn will be appealing the decision, we thought he was supposed to be a champion of labor.”
The initial July 1 announcement by Quinn’s office was met by area protests by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as well as Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice. The governor’s office notified 14 state agencies and employee unions that their 2 percent pay increase, as stipulated in their contract, would not be fulfilled this year because there is not enough money in the state budget.
This led to federal lawsuit filed by AFSCME against Quinn and the state of Illinois as a result of the pay freeze. The union has also began the arbitration proceedings that led to this ruling last week:
Under the mandatory, clear and simple terms of the negotiated language, the state must pay the 2 percent wage increase effective July 1, 2011. As a matter of contract, the state has no choice.
AFSCME Executive Director Henry Bayer responded positively to the decision in a news release.
“Frontline state employees are out there every day doing the real work of state government and the Quinn Administration, as their employer, should keep its commitments to them,” he said. “We have always said what’s at stake here is much more than a pay increase. “This is a question of whether the fundamental right of working people to bargain collectively will be upheld in Illinois,” he said. “We welcome this ruling because it makes clear that the governor cannot simply break a contract at will.”

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

A B-29 plane, 39 missions and one great story

Paul Linden
Pat Barcas photo
Aurora’s Paul Linden stands in front of his Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as several keepsake photographs of his time spent in the Pacific Theater.

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

Paul Linden of Aurora closes his eyes and cocks his head, remembering back nearly 70 years. You get the feeling his mind is taking a trip back in time, remembering small details and the exact time they happened. Clearly, the time he spent in the 1940s made an impression on him, but this time period doesn’t define him. As a member of the greatest generation, he defines this time period.
He leads an extraordinary existence, but he doesn’t think so. At age 87, he spends his time making furniture and wooden trinkets in his basement woodworking shop for his grandchildren. He repairs and restores antique glass lamps. And he gives tours on Saturdays at the Air Classics Museum of Aviation in Sugar Grove, as well as speaking to local schools and veterans groups.
Linden flew 39 missions during World War II as a radar operator on a B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber. He served in the United States Army Air Force (this was before the Air Force was a standalone group) in the 73rd bomb wing from 1942 to 1945, operating out of the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands. On his last bombing mission to Japan, his B-29 lost two engines on takeoff and had to make an emergency landing on the island of Iwo Jima, which was under American control at that time.
Here he tells his story.
Linden enlisted in the service at age 19. His strategy was to pick the Army Air Force before he was drafted and the military chose his path for him. He trained in Texas, Chicago, Florida, Kansas, and California as a radar operator and navigator before flying to the South Pacific to fly in the legendary Superfortress.
The B-29 was a brand new plane that was just being developed and delivered to the military from Boeing. Linden remembers first seeing them flying over the airbase in Kansas.
“We didn’t know this plane was being built, so it was a big shocker to see six new ones coming into the airfield. It took your breath away, it was all shiny metal, it looked beautiful. The plane was huge,” he said.
A successor to the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-29 was state of the art at the time. It had a pressurized cabin, remote controlled gun turrets, and a ceiling of 40,000 feet flying at 350 mph.
“It was comfortable in there, you could wear a T-shirt if you wanted to,” said Linden.
From Kansas he went to Mather Field in Sacramento, where his crew got their own B-29. They named her “Miss Behavin’” and had her nose painted with a pretty lady.
“It cost us $25 and a bottle of booze. The guy did a nice job,” said Linden with a chuckle.
After three days at Mather Field, the crew took off with only a westerly compass heading over the Pacific Ocean. One hour into the flight, they were allowed to open their secret packet that contained exactly where they were going: the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands.
“My reaction was, ‘where the hell are the Mariana Islands?’ We didn’t know where that was, but we found out,” he said.
They stopped in Hawaii, then made their way to Saipan. They were told they would fly 25 missions.
“Of course that went out the window right away,” said Linden. They eventually flew 39 missions, including strategic bombing missions over the Mitsubishi engine plant in Japan, 11 night firebombing missions over Tokyo, one weather reconnaissance mission, and two 16-hour search and rescue missions over the open ocean.
Before they dropped napalm bombs in the firebombing missions, the crew would throw out leaflets telling people to get out of the cities.
“They didn’t listen. And besides, they had nowhere to go,” he said.
Linden said it was estimated that between 50,000 to 75,000 people were killed after each firebombing mission.
“I saw 17 square miles of Tokyo on fire. It was unbelievable. There was fire as far as you could see,” said Linden.
He said these images weighed on his conscience even after the war, but he was just doing his job.
“Sometimes it’s very difficult for me to say that we killed so many Japanese people in our bombings. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t do it, but I didn’t have a choice. We just did our jobs,” he said. “For a long time, I held back about talking about the war, until I figured out, this is what I should do. People want to hear about it.”
During the last six missions he flew, American P-51 Mustang fighter planes escorted their bomber.
“The enemy fighters didn’t get close to us on those missions,” said Linden.
On previous missions, however, their plane was shot up by enemy fighters and anti-aircraft artillery. Four crewmembers, including Linden, received Purple Hearts for being wounded in the plane by flak.
“They just filled the bullet holes in the plane with an aluminum patch, and then sent us on our next mission,” he said.
Other planes weren’t so lucky, being rammed by kamikaze pilots, they were lost in the ocean forever after attempting to ditch.
The thing that Linden remembers most is landing at Iwo Jima, partly because it was his last mission and they landed safe, and partly because of the legendary status of the island.
“The decision to take Iwo Jima was very controversial, but it worked out. It was used as a refueling stop for the bombers. In July of 1945, 864 B-29s landed at Iwo,” he said.
After his mission was complete, he shipped off to the United States, eventually arriving in Chicago by train. He married his girlfriend, Jane Roe, on September 15, 1945, two weeks after arriving home.
They were set up on a blind date before the war. Linden got to take her out because he had a car, a 1939 Pontiac. Linden and Jane were married 64 years before she passed away two years ago.
“I’m happy I had the chance to do what I did, to participate in what Tom Brokaw calls ‘The Greatest Generation’ and do what was asked of me. When the war was over, I had a chance to sit back and think. It was an experience you’re never going to forget,” said Linden. “It made a lot of veterans have better lives, and for some it made their lives worse. That’s war, you take the consequences. It was a trying time for this country, and I just joined the millions of others in serving.”

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

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Tough mudder is all about the stories


Tough Mudder in Wisconsin
Jennifer Rice photo
Participants in the most recent Tough Mudder, held in Wisconsin last weekend, make their way through the last obstacle of the race, the Electroshock Therapy. Some dangling wires carry a 10,000-volt shock, which drops you to the ground.


By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor

MERRIMAC, WIS — It’s difficult to know where to start when trying to sum up a Tough Mudder experience. On the surface, it’s a 10-mile running race on a ski hill with 25 obstacles. It’s designed by British Special Forces with the tag line: Probably the toughest event on the planet.
This race is so much more than that. It’s a day like none other. When you finish the race, you think you’ve got no energy to make it through the rest of the day, but that’s when you’re second wind kicks in.
High from achieving your goal of finishing, you can’t wait to unwind at the post-party with a banana, a Clif Bar and a beer, or two or three. The post-party is when find out who your fellow Mudders really are, where they’re from and why they came.
Race spectators, which mingle and blend in with the runners, all want to know the same thing. “What it’s like to run through the final obstacle — the Electroshock Therapy?
It’s intimidating as hell, I explain, but I was lucky enough not to get a taste of a 10,000-volt electrical wire. My fiancée was not so lucky. He took one on the thigh. This obstacle is a shoddy built, wooden structure with hundreds of dangling electrical wires, like wet spaghetti noodles, some carrying a 10,000-volt charge.
Tough Mudder crew member, Dan, said he volunteered not once; not twice; not three times, but FOUR times to run through the Electroshock Therapy with wary runners who didn’t want to go it alone.
“And I got hit four times,” he said, raising his right hand, displaying four fingers, as if a visual would drive home the point a little better.
“And I face-plated in the mud four times,” he said again, along with the four-finger visual. “You know what that does to my contacts?” he asked.
Messes them up pretty good, I answer. Up until this point, I thought his blood shot eyes were due to excessive drinking. I was half right. “Oh, their red from that, too. But mostly from the mud,” Dan said.
A trip to the medic tent for a saline rinse did little to reduce the redness. “It’s all good,” he said. “A lot worse things happened today than my eyes.”
Really, like what? That’s when fellow crew member Cindy, a nurse when she’s not pumping water at aid stations for runners, chimed in. “A guy broke his femur on the quarter pipe,” she said. I noticed she made a point to use the word ‘femur’ and not ‘leg.’
“It takes a tremendous amount of force to break a femur. It’s the strongest bone in your body, did you know that?” she asked me. Not off hand, no, I didn’t. “He’s going to need surgery,” she said, very matter-of-factly.
The quarter pipe is an obstacle Tough Mudders refer to as Everest. With help from fellow Mudders who sit at the top, you sprint as hard as you can, throw your arms towards the top, and hope two people grab your arms to pull you up and over. If you can’t make it up, you tumble/slide/roll to the bottom and try again.
“The Flight for Life flew onto the course to airlift him off,” Cindy said. Shortly after finishing the race, I had seen the helicopter. Every body had seen the bright, red helicopter with the white medical cross on it.
“It takes a tremendous amount of force to break a femur,” Cindy repeated again. That’s when it dawned on me that the idea of Tough Mudder is not really to win, but to finish; have a story to tell and to make sure the story wasn’t about you.

Jennifer Rice’s e-mail address is Jen@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Aviation museum holds a little piece of history

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor

SUGAR GROVE – Shelf after shelf of precisely positioned model airplanes sit inside enclosed glass cases at the Aurora Air Classics Museum. These painted plastic airplanes are more than just models, and nobody understands that better than the volunteers at the museum.
Each plane comes with a sad story. The museum usually acquires them after the passing of a veteran.
“We get the calls from family members who say, ‘my dad just passed away and he collected these model airplanes. If you don’t want them, we’re just going to have to throw them away,” said Hank Winkler, a retired veteran and volunteer at the museum.
Of course the museum wants them. “These are works of art, but no family member wants them,” he explained. The museum is happy to get those phone calls, but on the other hand, it comes at the expense of a dying veteran.
“We’d rather have the stuff, than have the family destroy stuff they don’t know the value of,” Winkler added.
Winkler spoke during a tour of the Air Classics Museum July 21 to a group of area veterans. For many, it was their first visit to the museum, located in Sugar Grove, on Route 30.
The museum is a small operation, but is by no means short on delivering history on local veterans as well as displaying artifacts like uniforms, pictures, military advertisements and of course, the actual planes themselves.
The three buildings on the grounds that house the museum hold decades and decades of history, with stories like Capt. William Cullerton, a P-51 fighter pilot from Chicago who was shot down and captured. Towards the end of World War II, the prisoners in Cullerton’s prison camp were shot and left for dead.
He was shot point-blank in the stomach. The bullet passed through him, hitting his kidney and liver. When found, he was alive, but barly clinging to life. He lost most of his blood through the bullet wound. He was taken to a hospital and saved by a Jewish doctor.
After returning home and re-joining civilian life, Cullerton made a career as a radio announcer with WGN Radio, hosting the Great Outdoors Show from 1979-99.
Then there was Aurora resident Richard Allen who, as a young pilot, started out flying B-17’s. Winkler remembered that during an open house event, a Batavia resident — who grew up in Germany as a child, asked if Winkler could put him in contact with a pilot who flew missions over Munich.
Winkler introduced the Batavia resident to Allen. Even though Allen was responsible for many bombing missions over Munich, the Batavia resident and he shared a friendly conversation. “He just wanted to meet and talk with Allen. That’s all. And that story is one of the fascinating aspects of volunteering at the museum,” Winkler said.
Volunteers have the best job, Winkler said. “I get to come here every weekend and talk to people from around the world who are interested in what we have to show them,” he explained.
Aside from three buildings of artifacts, outside the museum is where the aircraft collection sits in two rows. They include a TA-4J Skyhawk, Republic F-105 Thunderchief and the Bell UH-1H Huey, seen in the recent Aurora July 4 parade.
“There really is something for everybody here,” Winkler said.

Jennifer Rice’s e-mail address is Jen@foxvalleylabornews.com.

God’s grace is irresistible and full of joy

“Listen, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father’s house; So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him.” (Psalm 45:10-11 NKJV).

By Dan Richardson
The Psalmist hearkens us to let good and kindred go. Past relationships and interests which opposed the praises of God as Creator and Lord must be forsaken. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2nd Corinthians 6:4).
How can the command to forsake all and follow Christ be easy? Answer: When we see how the most desirable Jesus satisfies our deepest cravings! King Jesus is beautiful, full of grace and blessings. He is irresistible and victorious forevermore. His truth, humility and righteousness uphold His glory and majesty. He rides in authority, piercing sinners’ hearts with His arrows of conviction. They fall down and under His Lordship.
The eternal source of joy and gladness is God. Those who trust in His anointed Son, King Jesus, God’s righteousness is imputed. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness, are a few of the colors He adorns upon His children. Gladness grows from graciousness. Rejoicing resounds in His glory.
Here’s a tougher question. How can it be that the King of the universe desires us? Answer: Because the ransomed are His children, and He has made them beautiful. Beauty is the love and faith expressed to Him in worship.
Prayer: My dear heavenly Father, the standard of the highest beauty and good. There is none like You. Expand my knowledge of Your holiness and perfections. I want to know You intimately. Thank you for piercing my heart with the arrow of Your Law. Most of all, thank you for piercing Your Son. His blood washed away my sin. Now I am clean and righteous before You. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Our Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“Another trumpet calls — another banner waves, blood stained and glorious with victory. An army gathers under it and gives true allegiance to the great Captain — the Lord Jesus. As you answered your country’s call and fought for her safety, answer now the call of the Lord Jesus, and under her banner, following His leadership, fight and win and save your souls.”
—Closing of a sermon by John W. Sayers, U.S. Military Chaplain from the 1800’s

Dan Richardson’s e-mail address is danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Football returns: Teams rush to sign free agents


By Larry Peterson
Staff writer

The National Football League owners decided in 2008 to opt out of the league’s old contract which expired March 11, 2011. That’s when the owners locked out the players, creating the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987.
The lockout in its 132nd day early Monday, July 25 appeared to be very close to a settlement. The NFLPA executive committee met during the day on Monday in Washington D.C. and approved the settlement with NFL owners. The 32 players representatives have accepted the revised terms and the lockout is over.
According to unofficial reports the NFL owners presented a signed document to the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) representatives on July 24. The NFLPA representatives read the terms and refused to sign because of added language that was not agreed upon.
On Sunday, July 24 a revised proposal appeared to be acceptable. There were two schools of thought: One said it is a “done deal” and signing is a mere formality. The other was cautiously optimistic and there is still some work to be done. The “done deal” side was correct.
The head of the players association, DeMaurice Smith said, “We didn’t get everything that either side wanted, but we did arrive at a deal that we think is fair and balanced,”
The tentative time line from the league is as follows:
Monday: The NFL will announce that teams could go to 90-man rosters and the official free-agent list was distributed to the teams.
Tuesday: Teams could reach agreement with rookies and undrafted free agents beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Teams could reach agreements with all free agents and signed players were allowed to enter team facilities.
Wednesday: Players could begin reporting to training camps 15 days before their first preseason games.
Thursday: Teams can begin to cut players at 4 p.m. ET.
Friday: Teams can begin filing transactions to the league office at 6 p.m. ET.
August 4: Deadline for recertification of the players union and ratification of the collective bargaining agreement by the players.
Negotiations for a new colective bargaining agreement will begin after NFPLA recertifies as a union. Benefits and health care, handling of grievances and the substance-abuse policy are things that players will negotiate after they reform as a union, but the lack of a collective bargaining agreement will not hold up the beginning of league business.
The framework for the deal was worked out more than a week ago and is reported to read as follows:
How the $9 billion in annual league revenues will be divided, about 53 percent to owners and 47 percent to players over the next decade (The old CBA resulted in about a 50-50 split); a per-club cap of about $120 million for salary and bonuses in 2011, and at least that in 2012 and 2013, plus about $22 million in benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.
The end of the lockout obviously is a great relief to everyone involved and fans who were wondering if there was going to be a season can rest assured there will be a full season of professional football.
The Chicago Bears will report to Bourbonnais Friday, July 29 to begin workouts. The Bears will hold their first training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on Saturday, July 30. The practice, scheduled for 3 p.m., will be without pads and will be open to the public.


Wisconsin voters take to the polls for union rights

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

WISCONSIN — Voters in Wisconsin headed to the polls Tuesday in the first of nine recall elections, elections that are rooted by the threat earlier this year of eliminating public sector collective bargaining statewide.
The stakes are high in the badger state: If Democrats win a total of three seats, they will regain control of the state Senate. Republicans currently control a 19 to 14 majority, as well as control of the House. If the Democrats win, it will serve as a large victory toward unpopular Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Earlier this year, a Wisconsin measure passed in the state legislature with the support of Gov. Walker that effectively sidelined collective bargaining rights of many state employees. The bill was passed under the guise of shrinking the state’s $137 million budget deficit, but divided the state between union and non-union supporters. Under the law, all public workers except police and firefighters would be required to pay for more of their retirement plan and health care premiums.
The recalls in Wisconsin will continue through August with nine state senators forced to defend their seats: three Democrats and six Republicans. The six Republican state senators who are up for recall all voted for the measure, while the three Democrats voted no on it.
Tuesday, Democrat Dave Hansen defended his seat in the state senate against Republican David Vanderleest. Hansen was expected to win, with a 28-point lead in early polling done by Public Polling Policy. Up for serious contention in being ousted in later elections are incumbent Democrats Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch.
Here is the upcoming recall election schedule:
August 9: Voters will decide the fate of the six Republicans in recall elections.
August 16: Two remaining Democrats will defend their seats in recall elections.

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Groundbreaking ushers in new green era for Aurora

RiverEdge groundbreaking
Pat Barcas photo
The first shovels of dirt symbolize the start of construction on the RiverEdge Park Music Garden. The park is expected to create construction jobs and draw private sector and non-retail jobs to Aurora.

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

Construction on the nearly $13 million RiverEdge Park Music Garden is underway, a project that is projected to bring 150 construction jobs and between 450 to 600 private sector and non-retail jobs to Aurora.
The July 15 groundbreaking of the Music Garden is merely the first phase of a ten-year grand plan for the city that involves a renewed focus on the environment and revitalizing the downtown.
“The most important part of this project is the spurring of economic development for the area, which is badly needed for the trades in our community,” said Mayor Tom Weisner to the crowd of 100 at the groundbreaking event. “This is a marvelous collaboration over many, many years, and that’s how we get things done. It’s going to bring with it a great gathering place. This is changing our riverfront from brown to green, and within a year, we’ll be out here for a ribbon cutting instead of a groundbreaking.”
RiverEdge Park will be located along the Fox River between New York Street and Illinois Avenue in downtown Aurora. The Music Garden will hold 9,500 people and serve as a cultural events hub, hosting the Blues on the Fox and Downtown Alive! concert series.
Funding comes from $15 million in grant money including $8 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity River Edge Redevelopment Zone Program, $3 million from the Fox Valley Park District, $2 million from the Kane County Forest Preserve District, and $2 million from the Dunham Fund.
“We’re very pleased to put local talent to work here,” said first ward alderman Abby Schuler. “We’re very excited the plan has finally been executed.”
Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity director Warren Ribley was optimistic about the economic growth the project will bring.
“Through the River Edge program, we’re investing in the future of our river communities by supporting those efforts that are fostering economic growth, attracting investment and creating jobs,” said Ribley. “This project is the first step in what we hope will be a brighter and more prosperous future for the people of Aurora.”

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Attorney’s viewpoint: How new law will be interpreted

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor

It may take some time before Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys see how provisions in the state’s new workers’ compensation law will play out in court. Signed into law June 28, Gov. Pat Quinn calling the bill “historic legislation.”
Casey Woodruff, lead attorney at the firm of Woodruff Johnson & Palermo wouldn’t go as far as agreeing with Quinn, saying only time will tell if it lives up to Quinn’s hype.
“There is some precedent. In some ways, it really codifies what was already the law. Until we see the court interrupting the new language, we won’t know what will happen,” Woodruff said.
Organized labor should take interest with some provisions in the act, which talks exclusively to labor and will impact them disproportionately, Woodruff explained, especially if your employer has a Preferred Provider Network (PPN).
Under a PPN, employees have two free choices of medical. If an employee chooses to decline to treat, that decision will count as one of your choices.
Another provision exclusive to unions will be the introduction of a pilot program known as Collectively Bargained Workers’ Compensation. Little is known about the program or how it will be played out, other than it will be implemented in the construction industry.
“The Department of Labor is going to choose the two unions to try the program,” Woodruff said. Anticipating what may happen, he said the law might try to resolve disputes through a grievance procedure or mediation.
“If this pilot program works, then we might see some landmark changes to the workers’ compensation act, where others would follow,” Woodruff said.
With changes to the law, Woodruff stressed it will be important for union leadership to educate their members.
A section of the law that Woodruff does not like applies to all workers and limits wage differential awarded to injured workers who have to take a job at less pay than their previous job.
Often, most affected by wage differential are organized tradesmen who typically make more than their non-union brothers and sisters. “They are high wage-earners, with physically demanding jobs such that limitations would put them out of that job and would be least likely to find another job at or about the same pay rate,” explained Woodruff.
After suffering serious injury, some workers find themselves returning to their job with limitations. If there is no job for them within those limitations, they are most likely to take a job elsewhere, but many times, at lesser pay. This is where wage differential awards help cushion the difference in pay the worker receives.
Previously, the wage differential is 2/3 the difference in the two amounts and paid out for the rest of a workers life. Now, the language states that wage differential expires at either age 67 or five years after the final award, whichever is later.
The new law is aimed at reducing fraud and protecting workers. By reducing medical premiums, Illinois employers should save about $500 million. The costs comes from a 30 percent reduction in the amount of money doctors get paid for treating injured workers.
The new law also changes the consideration for the American Medical Associations’ guidelines in determining permanent partial disability. Some businesses may believe more conservative awards will be given, saving them money.
There also were changes to the provisions for workers who suffered carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS). “Caps were imposed on CTS awards to workers who sustained CTS as a result of repetitive trauma. Awards are not capped on workers who sustain CTS as a result of a specific trauma,” Woodruff explained.
In the end, laws and provisions protecting injured workers is better than what the state originally had, which was civil courts handing out outrageous judgments that hurt businesses. “In the beginning, we had a system where things were not good for workers or employers,” Woodruff said.
In the end, the legislature got together and passed a law where workers didn’t have to establish that it was their employers fault in order to get lost wages and medical expenses paid for. But, it also limited to how much they can recover in those lawsuits.
“Now, it’s a system that I’m proud of. I would love to see reform create even more benefits for injured workers. I’m proud of the fact, that as a state, we’ve made a decision in balancing interest in thinking about the cost of business and how we want to treat our injured workers,” Woodruff said.

Jennifer Rice’s e-mail address is Jen@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Moveon.org meeting brings about political discussion

Moveon.org house meeting
Pat Barcas photo
Local residents gather in Lisle July 16 for a moveon.org American Dream House Meeting. The grassroots political meeting are aimed at coming up with a mission statement on what citizens want changed in America.

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer

LISLE — They talked about unemployment. They talked about health care. They talked about taxes, government, local politics and illegal immigration. But most of all, they talked about what’s wrong with America, and what can be done to fix it.
The discussion went on at a moveon.org American Dream House Meeting in Lisle last weekend, one of more than 1,500 hosted throughout the country. Grassroots politics at its finest, the meetings aimed to let American voices be heard via the moveon web site about what needs to change.
According to moveon.org, the American dream is under siege — tens of millions of willing workers can’t find jobs, millions of homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure and millions more are underwater. The movement to counteract this was born from the protests in Wisconsin, as Americans stand up to attacks on the middle class.
Meeting organizer Aileen Eilert said she has been involved with moveon.org since her nephew was killed in Iraq in 2006 while serving in the Army.
“It was really sad that he ended up dying, and for what? I wanted a way to end this war, so I started volunteering with moveon. The more attention I paid, the worse it seemed to get,” she said.
Eilert said she believes Medicare must be provided for everyone in the future if the country is expected to thrive. She herself has been struggling with health insurance bills since she developed arthritis in her hands while on the job.
“One thing that has to happen is Medicare must be provided for all. There will be too many people who need it that can’t afford it in the future. If everyone has health insurance, companies will be willing to hire people more, and people can work for themselves as well,” she said.
Judy Bloom of Woodridge said she’s worried about her and her family’s employment future. She was laid off from her nursing home job three weeks after her husband recently lost his job and is concerned about retirement. Her son also lost his carpentry job after his company downsized from 250 carpenters down to only five.
“It really changes your whole view about retirement. You have all these plans about what to do with your time and money, and losing your job just shifts priorities for you,” said Bloom.
Eilert said the main message she wants to get out is that people need to know where their vote is going.
“The message I want to deliver is, votes are still more important than money in politics. It’s important to know exactly where the campaign money is coming from,” she said.

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.