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

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.

Kindness is appreciated

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:8-12).”

The Psalmist describes God’s thoughts towards His covenantal people. When His kindness is tested, the response is consistent: He doesn’t give His people what they deserve. Don’t credit God’s mercy to any goodness in people. There is no difference between a follower of the LORD and one who denies Him. Both are guilty. The sin of a Bible believer is as damning as the sin of the unbeliever. Everyone deserves His eternal anger because everyone has slighted His infinite worth.

The difference in God’s kindness is seen in the word ‘forever.’ The LORD’s covenantal people enjoy His mercy and grace day after day and forever, while the unbelievers enjoy it for a period of time. God does not change. Since He is always angry with sin, His righteous anger will be expressed for eternity.

Do you see the word picture that fits the context of the passage? It starts in the fourth sentence. When you say, “For as high as the heavens are above the Earth,” you raise your hand to the sky. As you say, “so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him,” you lower your hand all the way down. Then, when you say the sentence about east and west, you move your hand to the left and right. The vertical and the horizontal plane created by the hand motions picture a cross.

God’s love came down in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. He came from a very high and holy place all the way down to our dirty place. He spoke truth. He revealed His glory. He loved His own even to the point of death on a cross. That’s where the new covenant was made. That’s where sins are removed.

What does fear mean? 1st John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” For 1st John and Psalm 103 to be true, we must use the correct meaning of fear. The kind of fear John is referring is that which leads to unbelief. It says, “God is angry at me therefore He is not good.”

Fear grounded in belief is different. It says, “God is angry at my sin and He should be.” Godly fear reveres divine anger towards sin. Godly fear sees love on the cross. A logical embracing of mercy follows and the burden of guilt is lifted. Grace is given. A new relationship is made. That is what Psalm 103 is about.

The benefits of God’s eternal grace apply to those who embrace the new covenant. Forsake the sin that put Jesus on the cross. Esteem the Son of God who abounds in steadfast love.

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“Though there have been mingled the discords of warring cannon and dying men, yet to the Christian philosopher and historian — the humble listener — there has been a Divine melody running through the song which speaks of hope and halcyon days to come.”
—Letters of James A. Garfield (1831-1881), 20th President of the United States

Being a Labor Democrat

Tom Suhrbur

Tom Suhrbur
Illinois Education
Association (retired)
Special to the Fox
Valley Labor News
Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015

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

“The victim of mind manipulation does not know that they are a victim. To them, the walls of their prison are invisible, and they believe they are free. When it comes to the current mental conditioning process, it’s hard to break free when you are repetitively told you are free.”
—Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited

Politics is all about how wealth and income are distributed throughout the economy. Put simply, politics decides who gets what. This fact is often obscured by the shallowness of the political discourse. Fear, nationalistic fervor and prejudice guide many voters. As a result, people do not necessarily vote their pocketbooks. Instead, such issues as race, abortion, gun control, Ebola, and terrorism overshadow class interests. How much media attention was given to the absurdity of the “birthers.” A friend of mine even told me she voted for George W. Bush in 2000 because he seemed “nice” and “was cute.” In the 2014 election, 65 percent of the white, working class voted Republican. This is amazing since the party has supported policies that would hurt their families.

I was raised in a working-class family. My mother stayed home caring for seven children. My father was the sole income. He was a pipefitter at Campbell Soup in Chicago and a union member. He worked hard, but our family enjoyed a decent standard of living. We had a modest home and car. We had good food, family health insurance and an annual vacation. In 1973, our dad retired at 65 with a defined benefit pension and social security that guaranteed my parents a comfortable retirement. Can you imagine a working-class family with seven children surviving today on a single income?

The labor movement was the key to the prosperity that my family enjoyed. Strong unions raised the standard of living for members and non-members alike. In 1968, about 28 percent of U.S. workers were covered by union contracts. Union agreements typically raised the level of compensation for others. Non-union employers would often pay wages competitive to the union scale and provide benefit packages that including pensions and health insurance. They did so not only to dissuade their employees from organizing unions, but also to hire and to keep workers from leaving to higher paid union jobs.

Jealousy and relationships

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14).”

When it comes to disdain and hatred, feelings towards the things that oppose that which you love are sometimes intense. For instance, because we highly value workers’ rights, we show a high disdain towards any design that intentionally curbs or removes those rights. We love workers’ rights, and we hate unlawful oppression at the workplace. Hatred is natural if there be anything worth admiring.

When it comes to what we love, if it makes us happy, it must be right. Erotic liberty, entertainment and various hobbies are activities done from personal satisfaction. But they are not only activities per se; these are relationships because we relate and spend time with them. Regarding activities of our lives as relationships is key in understanding the meaning of a jealous God.

An activity that opposes God’s standard of goodness, beauty and truth threatens to take what rightly belongs to God, namely, His glory. So when a person is doing something which God opposes, that relationship is robbing God of the joy He desires. God desires to share joy with the person, but the person is sharing the joy with something else. Meet jealous God.

“They stirred Him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger (Deuteronomy 32:16).”

If something makes you happy, understand it is not the thing itself, but the satisfaction which comes from what you are relating. Boredom proves the point. Boredom doesn’t happen because the object changed, but because we changed. Our standard for satisfaction and joy changed, and now we long for something more. We use things as a means to gain joy and contentment.

As creatures made in God’s image, we were made to relate to high standards of goodness, truth and beauty. God has filled the world with these things. We may not recognize how He is glorified as we enjoy His blessings, but it is true. He finds pleasure in blessing His creation.

What is the purpose? Is it all for us? Are we the ultimate prize? No. The ultimate end of God’s goodness is His glory. To achieve that end, He must lead people to the most supreme relationship of all — Jesus Christ, His only Son.

The jealousy of God stems from a love for relationship. God wants to share His best with those He loves and He doesn’t want anything to compete with His interests. We can trust in Christ because He takes care of His own.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9).”

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
—From the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1776, (source: presidentialprayerteam.org).

Fallen heroes stand on one promise

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised (Romans 4:20).”

Abraham is called the father of faith. God told him, “Look toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your offspring be (Genesis 15:5).” The next verse is one hallmark of the Christian faith: “And he believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness.” But that is only part of the story.

Twice Abraham lied about his wife for fear of losing her. Don’t get the idea he was a coward. Abraham knew how to fight, but sometimes the best buckle under pressure. When Pharaoh of Egypt heard about Sarah’s beauty, Abraham said she was a sister and let her go. Years later, when you think he knew better, he gave her away to the King of Gerar. Both times God protected Sarah. Both times the kings discovered the truth and, fearing God’s wrath, gave Sarah back (read these in Genesis chapters 12 and 20).

In another embarrassing saga, Abraham attempted to have a baby with the house servant (with Sarah’s consent). God wasn’t pleased with their pragmatism. The result was strife and a fractured family. While Abraham did many heroic things, his failures tell us he needed a Savior like everyone else. Here’s a side note: Be wary of churches that make their founders into superheroes. “So neither he who plants, nor he who waters, is anything, but only God Who gives the growth (1st Corinthians 3:7).”

When a person repents from sin and places trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, God grants forgiveness of sins, fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. The promise rests on faith, which God provides.

Christians often become discouraged because they do things without trusting God. Worry, anger and stress frustrate faith and peace passes away. In these times, we remember God is able to do what He promised. “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for her whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything (1st John 3:19-20).”

In spite of our weakness and sin, God’s plan works. The sacrifice of His precious Son doesn’t mostly provide forgiveness — it is completely sufficient to save. The resurrection of Christ doesn’t mostly guarantee victory over sin and death — it triumphs absolutely.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).”

Remembering God’s grace increases worship. As a Christian thinks about the cross where Jesus died, the blood reminds him of his weaknesses and sin. As he continues to think about the cross, he is intrigued of the supreme love Jesus. These meditations are humbling and lead to crystal clear streams of joy.

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“A nation without religion, in my estimation, is as great a paradox as an honest Man without the fear of God. Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will towards Men?”
—Letters of Abigail Adams (1744-1818), Second First Lady of the United States (source:presidentialprayerteam.org)

Salvation, light and glory

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).”

An old Jewish priest named Simeon was serving in the temple. The LORD promised he would not die until he saw the Messiah. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus into the temple for consecration, Simeon recognized the Messiah right away. What followed were the words of the passage above. Simeon’s three references to Jesus are salvation, light and glory.

Most people don’t understand the need for salvation. They dismiss or refuse to recognize their hidden enemy. The enemy’s oppression is a subtle thing because it uses our wrong desires against us. Man wants to believe in something to bring him contentment — and he will look in every direction except God. Idolatry deceives us because it actually works for a season. We become like the idols we cherish. As idols can’t see, speak, hear or breathe, so we are blind, mute, deaf and dead. We don’t know the way of peace.

Redemption is tied with salvation because God must pay a price for our idolatry. The standard of God’s justice is high, so the price is high as well. God’s Son offered His own life as redemption for those who turn from idolatry and trust in Him. Only He can save us from the great power of sin and evil.

“The unfolding of Your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple (Psalms 119:130).” When you see how God’s word sheds light on life, you will see where the light originates. Studying God’s word gives us a deeper understanding of Jesus, the Life and the Light of the World. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4).” As much as we need salvation, we need Jesus as our Light in a dark world. Jesus gives light to those in darkness. He opens blind eyes. As you learn and believe in Jesus, you will see things about God’s wisdom you never knew.

Supreme glory satisfies. If we were created in God’s image, we can experience His glory in our lives. Through salvation in Jesus alone, one may partake in His holiness. How? By studying and believing in the goodness of Christ. Study forgiveness. Study the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5). Give thanks for what He has done. Emulate Him. Cherish His moral principles. Trust in His forgiveness.

Daily believing in the salvation of Christ and spending time in the Light of His Word will lead us in a satisfying glory of action. Our life of labor can be an offering of praise and devotion to the One Who lived and died for us.

“Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11a).”

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“May you have the love of God and his people shed abroad in your hearts by his spirit; and be ready to sacrifice private views and personal interests to the publick good! Shake your hands from bribes of every kind, and when call’d to give your vote, consider seriously what is right in the sight of God, with whom is no respect of persons, or taking of gifts; and act accordingly.”
—Joseph Sewall, Colonial Preacher in Boston (1688–1769), source: consource.org

Meaningful morning leads to lasting laughter

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4).”

Tornados, cancer, financial meltdown and ensuing anger give reasons to grieve. Yet, for the most part, suffering brings people together. Even when the media reports of strained political tensions, acts of compassion going on behind the scenes. We cope with suffering and look for the light at end of the tunnel.

As far as purpose goes, the post-modernism “whatever” mind-set avoids the deeper significance of suffering. Naturalism takes the day: “All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the Earth? (Eccl. 3:20-21).” Leave eternity up to uncertainty and the best you hope for is a good job, some money and constant entertainment.

The reason why secularism can’t offer a sufficient response to suffering is because it is committed to leaving God and eternity out of the equation. Something terrible happens and in the mind-set of the kindness and support, today’s whatever mind-set says, “It doesn’t make sense to turn to God because no one can be sure of those kinds of things.” Why are we so committed to uncertainty?

The answer is both shocking and comforting. The hard reality is we were given a beautiful world to inhabit; and our rebellion brought sadness and misery to it. Our Creator obligates us to bear His image; and we by nature, are unable to obey. God’s response is material with spiritual implications. Wild weather, sickness and corruption should remind us of our sin. God uses these reminders to lead us to Him. Yet, we refuse because we don’t want to be obligated to Him. We only want His benefits.

Honest grief leads to comfort. If we see suffering as a result of global sin, then we’ve come a long way in our thinking. Please understand, I am not saying a tornado that killed a 60-year-old woman was the result of a specific sin on her part. It is not right to tell someone with cancer, “Hey buddy, you sinned and now you got cancer.” It is to say, “No one is good. Our sin leads us to misery. But God turns misery into joy.”

It’s difficult for us to see holiness in God’s just anger towards sin. Yet, it is the right response to evil. The suffering we see today is only a glimpse of what His enemies will endure for eternity. Yet the comfort and healing is also a foretaste of what He offers to those who trust in Him. “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent (Psalm 30:11-12a).”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).” The Lord Jesus Christ confidently said those words because He was going to absorb and satisfy God’s just anger on the cross for the world. The only way the death of Jesus suffices is if He indeed is God. We have His word and the resurrection to rejoice and say, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).”

If we only would take time to think and mourn over our sin, then we’d see the purpose of it all. Then we’d see laughing and dancing a part of a forever-life with God.

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
—The Apostle Paul, 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, 7:10.

Can you see God?

By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014
Email Dan Richardson at danrichardson@foxvalleylabornews.com

There are many stories of folks who said they saw God. Many describe tours of heaven or hell, and other playful interactions with Jesus. A popular speaker often describes his ‘hilarious’ conversations with Jesus. A recent story talks about Jesus giving a boy a ride on his horse up to heaven. The problem with these trips to heaven and back is that Jesus claimed to be the only one who has descended from heaven. He said no one who has ascended to heaven has ever descended back to Earth, except Him (John 3:13).

Another problem is the inconsistency with other encounters recorded in Scripture. Moses hid his face when the LORD spoke through a burning bush (Exodus 3). Joshua fell to his face at the feet of the Commander of the LORD (Joshua 5:14). Manoah fell to his face when he recognized the angel of the LORD (Judges 13:21). In chapter one, Ezekiel fell to his face. In Isaiah 6, the prophet trembled and said, “Woe is me!” The apostle Paul fell to the ground (Acts 9).

God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see (1 Timothy 6:16).” In His transcendent state, we cannot see God; yet in His earthly state, we have.

John says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known (John 1:18).” Note the two persons of the Godhead mentioned — God, and one at the Father’s side. The one at the Father’s side is Jesus, the second person of the Godhead. He took on the “form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8).”

Back then, anyone who believed Jesus’ testimony believed they saw the face of God. In fact, Jesus said to His disciples, if they see Him, they have seen the Father (John 14).

Although His appearing on Earth has come and gone, by God’s grace, faithful men kept good records. There are enough witnesses and collaboration to compile a reliable record of Jesus’ life.

When He ascended to heaven, the angels told the disciples Jesus would return the same way He left. In other words, the next time Jesus is seen on Earth is when He physically descends from heaven. The subsequent earthly sightings of Jesus were exclusive to the first century church. Stephen, the first martyr, saw Jesus standing at the Father’s right side. Paul saw a vision of heaven, but he was not allowed to speak about. John saw Jesus, fell to his face, and wrote the revelation of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus is seen again, it won’t be a block party. He won’t schedule an interview. No pony rides will be offered. The Earth will tremble, the mountains will melt, and the trumpet will sound. Some will hide in fear. Others will fall to their face and worship Him.

Then He will speak.

Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“The Founding Fathers believed devoutly that there was a God and that the inalienable rights of man were rooted — not in the state, nor the legislature, nor in any other human power — but in God alone.”
—Jeremiah S. Black (1810-1883), Secretary of State, (presidentialprayerteam.org).

What’s a union boss?

By Mike Matejka
Special to the
Fox Valley Labor News
Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throughout the primary, Republican nominee Bruce Rauner has targeted what he calls “union bosses.” The Illinois Education Association (IEA) the state’s largest teachers’ union, had a Representative Assembly meeting in Chicago a few months ago, where Democratic Governor Patrick Quinn faced off against Rauner. IEA elected President Cinda Klickna asked Rauner who he meant by union bosses. He replied directly to her, “You’re one.”

It was a gutsy move by Rauner to reply to Klickna in that way. But did he forget that Klickna was elected by the people in the room?

On the job, we don’t get to elect our boss. When we go to work for someone, they are in charge. They rule and we obey, though sometimes we do talk back. However, a labor union is not a business. Union leaders are elected, not self-appointed. Unions are owned by their members, who vote for their leaders.

In that IEA assembly were 1,200 teachers and support staff. Most were building representatives, elected by their fellow workers. The majority still works full-time in schools, but after hours, they represent their fellow workers. This basic workplace democracy is what a union is all about.

In McLean County, the Mitsubishi workers have voted for United Auto Workers representation. Since the union organized at the plant, there have been six different union presidents. No one is the boss and owns the union. Members who feel they can do better run for the office. If they can find support, they win. The union president serves at the workers’ discretion. Every three years the members vote whether or not to retain or replace their elected leadership.

If politicians want to criticize labor union involvement in Illinois politics, feel free to do so. But using the term “union boss” is a cheap shot. Union leaders are elected by the workers, who must approve spending any union funds or contract ratification. In the workplace, we don’t get to elect our boss; but in the union, you do get to elect your leader. I hope candidate Rauner, political commentators and other public voices will respect that basic workplace democracy a union brings and drop the term “union boss.”

Mike Matejka is the Governmental Affairs director for the Great Plains Laborers District Council, covering 11,000 union Laborers in northern Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. He lives in Bloomington with his wife and daughter and their two dogs. He served on the Bloomington City Council for 18 years, is a past president of the McLean County Historical Society and Vice-President of the Illinois Labor History Society.