Federal judge strikes down Lincolnshire’s ‘Right to Work’ ordinance

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A federal judge recently struck down a controversial right-to-work law in Lincolnshire aimed at organized labor, ruling that federal law preempts the local ordinance. The judge issued a summary judgment in the case, siding with four unions that filed the federal lawsuit in early 2016 challenging Lincolnshire’s ordinance.

Fox Valley Labor News
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017

Local 150 lawsuit strikes down local ‘Right to Work’ law

ROCKFORD — In a decision issued Jan. 7, United States District Judge Matthew Kennelly found the local “right to work” law passed by the Village of Lincolnshire in 2015 is pre-empted by federal law, and that only states and territories have the authority to such laws. Local 150 and three other plaintiffs were granted summary judgment, with the court ruling on the merits without need for a full trial.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) permits States and Territories the authority to regulate union security agreements via “right to work” laws. Arguing that local units of government have no authority to pass such laws, four unions filed a federal lawsuit against Lincolnshire in early 2016.

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The plaintiffs were the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Locals 150 and 399, the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and the Laborers District Council of Chicago and Vicinity.

Judge Kennelly concluded the NLRA “does not permit local subdivisions to regulate union security agreements.” Additionally, Kennelly found Lincolnshire has no authority under federal law to regulate union hiring halls or “dues checkoff” agreements between unions and workers they represent.

“We have long argued that local governments simply are not empowered to pass these laws, and we are pleased with Judge Kennelly’s decision,” said IUOE Local 150 President-Business Manager James M. Sweeney.

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“This was a political attack against middle class workers, and we will always take up the fight on behalf of workers who depend on decent wages and benefits to support themselves and their families,” Sweeney added.

The Mayor of Lincolnshire requested the Village Board consider a Right to Work Ordinance that was drafted by the Illinois Policy Institute. Dec. 14, 2015, despite overwhelming public opposition and significant doubt cast upon the legality of the ordinance, the Village Board chose to pass the anti-union partisan policy, which lowers wages and living standards for all workers.

In March 2016, the Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, endorsed a boycott of all non-union businesses in Lincolnshire for passing Right to Work ordinances.

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At the announcement of the boycott, Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO President Patrick Statter said the labor movement stood in solidarity against the ordinance and strongly encouraged the public to use their purchasing power to send a message to the Village of Lincolnshire.

“Lincolnshire officials have continuously supported Gov. Bruce Rauner and aligned themselves with his anti-worker agenda; while at the same time, attacking Unions and working people,” Statter stressed at the time of the boycott.

The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 is a labor union representing 23,000 working men and women in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. Local 150 represents workers in various industries, including construction, construction material development, public works, concrete pumping, steel mill service, slag processing and others.
-Local 150

Giving back to the community

Giving back to the community

Braving plummeting temperatures and stiff winds Nov. 19, the Lake County Building and Construction Trades Council and the Lake County Contractors Association provided complete turkey dinners to 100 deserving families in Lake County as part of their Giving Back to the Community event. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

GRAYSLAKE — For the second time this year, union members and signatory contractors in Lake County joined forces to give back to their communities.

Braving the plummeting temperatures and stiff winds Nov. 19, the Lake County Building and Construction Trades Council, the Lake County Contractors Association and the Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO provided complete turkey dinners to 100 deserving families in Lake County.

“We’re going to continue to build on our efforts, and reach out to families in need,” explained Lake County Contractors Association Executive Vice President Tim Marabella.

Giving back to the community

The parking lot of the Lake County Housing Authority became a one-stop Thanksgiving dinner shopping spot Nov. 19 when the Lake County Building Trades and the Lake County Contractors Association gave back to their communities by giving away turkeys and all the trimmings for a complete Thanksgiving day dinner. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“People don’t understand the aspect of what unions give back to the community. They see us doing construction, but they aren’t aware of all the things we do behind the scenes to help our communities,” he added.

The Lake County Housing Authority was responsible for contacting families throughout Lake County and informing them of the opportunity to receive a turkey dinner. When distribution started at 10 a.m., there were 30 people deep at the check-in table.

For Easter earlier this year, both organizations, along with the Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, provided complete ham dinners for 100 families.

Family members Sue and Jamie Boller from Boller Construction in Waukegan welcomed residents and offered them doughnuts and coffee, which was perfect to ward off the cold weather. Husband Bob Boller worked inside the delivery truck, organizing food items.

Giving back to the community

A banner lines US Highway 45 in front of the Lake County Housing Authority where union members volunteered Nov. 19 by giving way complete turkey dinners to deserving Lake County families. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“We made sure the families grabbed some doughnuts and coffee before they got their turkey so we didn’t have extra. We absolutely don’t need them,” Marabella joked.

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Patrick Statter, president of the Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and UFCW 881 recorder was instrumental in purchasing the turkeys and side dishes from Mariano’s of Lake Zurich.

Lake County Building Trades President Pete Olson said the goal of both organizations was to show a presence with their community, “which we achieved,” Olson said.

Turkey dinners that were not picked up did not go to waste. Union members found deserving organizations that welcomed the dinners.

AFL-CIO endorses BCTGM’s boycott of Mexican-made Nabisco products

Check the Label campaign

Campaign encourages Americans to “Check the Label” in support of American jobs by purchasing only those Nabisco products made in America

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, May 5, 2016

KENSINGTON, Md.– The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) – which represents nearly 4,000 members at Mondelēz International, maker of Nabisco snack products – announced the national AFL-CIO has officially endorsed its nationwide consumer boycott of Nabisco snack products made in Mexico.

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The Check the Label campaign was launched to stop Nabisco/Mondelēz from continuing to outsource jobs, by urging American consumers to reject Mexican-made Nabisco products and, instead, buy those produced in America in support of middle-class American jobs. The AFL-CIO’s endorsement is a watershed moment in BCTGM’s boycott movement, as it adds 12.5 million members in 56 affiliated national and international unions, as well as their families and their local and extended communities across the United States and the globe.

BCTGM International President David B. Durkee, said the AFL-CIO’s backing sends the strongest signal yet that American workers and consumers will not stand idly by while Americans lose their jobs. “BCTGM is proud to have the support of our 12.5 million Brothers and Sisters of the AFL-CIO who share our profound dismay that Nabisco/Mondelēz is asking American workers to give up 60 percent of their wages and benefits – amounting to $46 million per year in perpetuity – or have their jobs shipped to Mexico. Most immediately, we believe that the endorsement lends substantial and sustainable support to our Check the Label campaign, aimed at supporting American jobs by ensuring consumers’ favorite Nabisco products are produced in America before purchasing.”

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BCTGM launched the Check the Label campaign after Nabisco/Mondelēz closed numerous U.S. production facilities, costing many hundreds of American jobs, while at the same time expanding production in its facilities in Monterrey and Salinas, Mexico, where pay is so low that the minimum wage is measured by the day, not the hour. BCTGM is sending teams of the laid-off workers around the country, focusing on large urban areas, to enhance support for the boycott and continue to expand its coalition.

The National contract between Mondelēz International and more than 2,000 of its 4,000 workers represented by the BCTGM, expired Feb. 29. BCTGM continues to be resolute in its commitment to securing a quality contract for its members – one that is in the very best interests of all members and their families today and into the future.

Bridging Labor & Scouting

labor and scouting

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

You can view videos of the Labor and Scouting event by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel

CHICAGO — At the core of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is teaching its youth to become leaders, and to serve others — which is not unlike the brotherhood of organized labor.

Scouting and Labor came together Jan. 20 in a merging of ideology and goals, but more importantly, to honor one of Labor and Scoutings biggest supporters — United Association General President William Hite, who was awarded the first ever Boy Scouts of America Chicago Area Council AFL-CIO George Meany Award.

United Association General President William Hite

United Association General President William Hite was honored with receiving the George Meany Award Jan. 20 in Chicago for his commitment to bring Scouting closer to the building construction trades. Photo courtesy of United Association

The event, held before 660 guests at Chicago’s Sheraton Hotel and Towers, honored Hite’s commitment to bring Scouting closer to the construction trades.

Chicago’s BSA Pathway to Adventure Council presented Hite with the award, which recognizes union members who have made a significant contribution to local youth through BSA programs. The event also raised more than $300,000, which will be used for the Boy Scout merit badge programs in plumbing, welding and American labor, and for the creation of a new BSA programs aimed at fostering genuine interest and skills in the trades among today’s youth.

Hite, a former Cub and Sea Scout, thanked the BSA and said he is anxious to open the next chapter of working together and to recruit scouts into the trades. “Scouting builds character and integrity, and that’s what we try to put into our union. That’s where the partnership with Scouting comes in, because they are taught early on, what it’s all about. Scouting and the building trades are about a brotherhood,” Hite explained.

United Association General President William Hite

United Association General President William Hite, center, laughs with fellow labor leaders after he received the George Meany Award for his commitment to bring Scouting closer to the construction trades. Photo courtesy of United Association

Labor and Scouting Chairman Bob Melko added that through Scouting, the building trades will raise awareness of the excellent education it offers young people and show them the high quality of living that can be achieved and made from a career in the construction trades.

Prior to the Labor and Scouting event, union leaders and contractors participated in a workshop to educate themselves in implementing an Exploring Post in their union or business.

Boy Scouts of America National Exploring Director Marty Walsh said the Exploring program exposes young men and women, aged 14- to 20-years-old, to various skilled trades with hands-on learning.

“With the Exploring program and exposing youth to the construction trades industry, it’s a great opportunity for us to work together. Our local offices are ready to work and open doors so young people can experience careers in something they may never considered, or were just waiting for someone to ask,” Walsh explained.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called William Hite a dear friend and a great ally in politics. He acknowledged the building trades with finding solutions to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure at a feasible price. Photo courtesy of Nadine Saucedo

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave Hite and the building trades praise for their leadership and insight. “The plumbers and pipe fitters have grabbed thousands of hands of young men and women, given them the training and the skills so they could have a job and provide for their families — all under the leadership of Bill Hite.”

Meany was a second generation plumber, starting with Local 1 in New York. In 1952, he became the leader of the AFL and successfully negotiated the merger of the AFL and CIO. He stepped down as president in 1979.

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.

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“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.

Raising Wages Summit

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015

raising wages summit

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Setting the tone for 2015, the country’s largest federation of unions, the AFL-CIO, announced a Raising Wages Call to Action in which politicians and candidates will be judged based on their actions on raising wages.

At the AFL-CIO’s first-ever Summit on Raising Wages held Jan. 7 in Washington, D.C., AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka launched the Raising Wages campaign, putting in motion plans to raise wages for working Americans and rejecting the notion that nothing can be done about stagnant wages.

The AFL-CIO will take the Raising Wages campaign to Atlanta, Columbus, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and San Diego — the seven cities that will serve as the starting points of this long-term effort. State federations of labor will also hold Raising Wages summits in the first four presidential primary states — Iowa (this spring), Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

“Families don’t need to hear more about income inequality. They need more income,” said Trumka. “I’m eager to turn on the heat and begin judging candidates based on this issue of raising wages. They can’t just feel our pain but tell us how they’re going to raise wages for every American.”

AFL-CIO National Summit

ALF-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages. Photos courtesy of AFL-CIO

Speaking at the summit was a fierce champion of the middle class, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who praised the AFL-CIO for spotlighting an important economic issue of our time. Despite the seemingly rosy economic picture, the senator from Massachusetts said the middle class is still in deep trouble. The rising stock market, for example, won’t help people if they don’t own stocks. People who are still unemployed won’t appreciate the lower unemployment rate.

Students who just graduated with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt won’t benefit from a low inflation. Their struggles are a result of the choices politicians make: instead of building an economy for all, they’re building an economy for some. The trickle-down economics helps the rich get richer at the expense of everyone else. As a result, young adults today will be worse off than their parents for the first time in history.

“We know that democracy does not work when congressmen and regulators bow down to Wall Street’s political power,” she said. “And that means it’s time to break up the Wall Street banks and remind politicians they don’t work for the big banks, they work for us.”

Also speaking at the summit was Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, who said prosperity in this country is not being shared as productivity has gone up 80 percent but wages are stagnant. Wage theft remains a widespread problem across America. It’s costing workers $1 billion a year in California and New York alone, about 40 percent of their meager income.

“Nobody that works a full time job should live in poverty. That’s not who we are as a nation” he said.

In addition to fair wages, earned income in the form of paid leave is another big problem. In countries he’s been to, Secretary Perez said they have some form of paid leave. Not here in America where businesses and some lawmakers fight against it. He shared a story of a mother who had to put her sick child on a school bus because she couldn’t stay home to take care of him.

“You shouldn’t have to make a choice between your job and your family,” he said. “The most important family value is time spent with your family.”

AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages

AFSCME Local 1427 speaks at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages. Photos courtesy of AFL-CIO

Despite many obstacles, workers have had successes when they stick together. A good example took place in New York when then Papa John’s Pizza worker Shantel Walker and his co-workers fought wage theft by raising awareness in the community and bringing thousands of people to the store to confront the manager. They successfully retrieved the stolen wages for their co-worker.

The summit also featured a roundtable discussion where the audience heard from workers, business owners, academics, labor and political leaders. Jennifer Epps-Addison, Wisconsin Jobs Now executive director, brought up a point that few people thought about — that in many communities, people of color have never made it to the middle class. They have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.

The panelists agreed that unions are a solution to this important economic issue; when workers are unionized, both wage and gender gaps shrink significantly. The public also needs to hear the truth — that raising wages boosts the economy because when people have money to spend, businesses grow, which in turn creates more jobs. Government gets more tax revenues, which can then be invested in education and infrastructure instead of cutting funding for these important programs. Raising wages allows people to take care of their families and moves people off welfare. It’s also good for businesses as it puts more money in people’s hands.

“If [people] can’t have a party, I don’t get business,” David Borris, owner of Hel’s Kitchen Catering in Chicago, explained why he supports raising wages.