With a budget still not passed, Springfield is a mess

Sen. Linda Holmes

Sen. Linda Holmes was disappointed with the creation of SB 1229, known as the AFSCME bill, which forfeits the right for members to strike, and forbids a lockout of workers by the governor. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

NAPERVILLE — Compared with the federal government, Sen. Linda Holmes used to think Springfield had its head on its shoulders. But now, with an impasse on the state budget and Illinois heading for a possible shutdown, Holmes feels Springfield has become as equally dysfunctional as Washington.

During the Aug. 28 Naperville Township Democratic Organization’s (NTDO) meeting in Naperville, Holmes fielded questions from members and guests, trying to keep everyone abreast of what is going on in Springfield.

With 82 percent of the budget passed, all that’s left if 18 percent, and that 18 percent is really, really important.

“What needs to be voted on are bills for social services, plans to take care of our veterans and our seniors, along with funding for autism — issues that affect our communities. The situation is simply horrendous,” Holmes explained.

Aug. 27, attorneys for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration and comptroller Leslie Munger complied with U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman’s order, which was issued after attorneys for the people with disabilities asked her to hold state officials in contempt of court.

“As of Aug. 28, the Department of Human Services has processed all vouchers for community-based services . . . that would have been provided in July and August 2015, on the same schedule as in previous years,” the lawyers for the state said, and “as of Aug. 28, the comptroller has paid all of the vouchers.”

As the Senate Labor Committee Vice-Chair, Holmes is outraged about SB 1229, also known as the AFSCME bill, which states if an impasse is reached in negotiations, instead of striking, or the governor being able to lock out workers, it will go to binding arbitration.

“When I first heard about this bill, I didn’t get it. AFSCME wanted this bill passed, but why would you want to give up the most powerful tool in your toolbox, which is the ability to strike in order to achieve a fair negotiation?” she questioned.

You only have to look to what Rauner said on the campaign trail, which was cite what President Ronald Reagan did in the 80’s with the striking air traffic controllers — he fired them all.

“This is what he wants — to force AFSCME to strike, so he can fire them, and start all over,” Holmes said.

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.