Rauner: Stop hurting Illinois

Rally in Springfield

Rally in Springfield brings 10,000 union members and their supporters out to demand Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies to stop hurting Illinois and drop their extreme, harmful demands and make Illinois work for all. Photo courtesy of AFSCME Council 31

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, May 26, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — With the state approaching a full year without a budget, working families in Illinois are feeling the effects of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s refusal to abandon his toxic agenda, so organized labor and its supports showed up in Springfield May 18 to let Rauner know how they feel.

Illinois Working Together Co-Chair and Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said Rauner doesn’t care about the hundreds of thousands of people who are struggling as never before because of his destructive policies.

Rally in Springfield

Members of IBEW Local 134 in Chicago march in Springfield towards Illinois’ capitol. Organized labor was protesting Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed changes to collective bargaining. Illinois State President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan left their chambers to join the rally. Photo courtesy of IBEW Local 134 member

“All of this devastation is due to one man — a mega-millionaire who thinks his huge wealth means he should be able to impose his will on an entire state. Governor Rauner is determined to ram through his extreme and harmful agenda — and he doesn’t care about how much damage he inflicts in the process,” Carrigan said to applause.

Statewide, public colleges and universities have announced layoffs, social service agencies are shutting down, construction projects have stalled, and businesses are owed billions for goods and services provided to the state.

Rauner is pushing policies that will lower the quality of life for all Illinoisans, especially those who depend on a weekly paycheck.

Rally in Springfield

Pro-Ruaner rally May 17 vs Rauner is Hurting Illinois Rally May 18

Illinois Working Together Co-Chair and Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez said he Turnaround Agenda would diminish wages, destroy worker protections, and completely wipe out what is left of the middle class in Illinois.

“Gov. Rauner, we are calling on you to end the devastating crisis you created. It’s time to create an Illinois that works for all — for our students, seniors, state employees, tradesmen and women, and all workers struggling to provide for their families,” Ramirez said.

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Speakers at the rally included everyday Illinoisans who are suffering the consequences of the Rauner agenda, including students, seniors, tradesmen and women, and state employees.

“Every day, I see firsthand the harm the governor is causing,” said JoAnn Washington-Murry, a Child Welfare Specialist from Chicago. “Because the Governor is holding the budget hostage, treatment programs have had to scale back or shut down. That hurts children and families, because if parents can’t get help to turn their lives around, my only choice is to keep that child in foster care.”

Construction worker Amy Fasig from Christopher, Illinois was severely injured on the job in 2012 said they weren’t strong workers’ compensation law in Illinois, her family and I would have lost everything.

“We would have been responsible for millions in medical bills. If we let wealthy politicians and huge corporations lead Illinois in a race to the bottom, workers and their families will lose even more,” she explained.

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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign student Stephanie Skora said because of Rauner, and his friends in the General Assembly, students have seen cuts at schools all over.

“Chicago State, Eastern, Western, Urbana-Champaign, and others are cutting staff and programs – jeopardizing my future and the future of my peers,” Skora said.

The rally was organized by Illinois Working Together, a coalition defending all working families from anti-worker attacks. Every union in the state participated in the rally.

The CFL honors workers, labor movement

Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
The Chicago Federation of Labor’s second annual Labor Day Luncheon fires up labor leaders and various dignitaries after discussions turned to workers’ ongoing labor struggles and fights.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com

CHICAGO — The who’s who of labor came out to show worker support and celebrate Labor Day at the second annual Labor Day Luncheon, hosted by the Chicago Federation of Labor.

The Aug. 27 event at IUOE Local 399 proved that Chicago is a labor powerhouse, bringing together, in the same room, CTU President Karen Lewis, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois AFL-CIO head Michael Carrigan, CFL President Jorge Ramirez, and SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff, among many others.

“The struggles that workers faced in the 19th century are still prevalent nearly 130 years later,” said Ramirez. “Today, full time workers are living at or below the poverty level because they hold minimum wage jobs. If the minimum wage would have kept up with inflation, it would be almost $22 per hour.”

CFL Secretary-Treasurer Bob Reiter reminded the crowd of 750 that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner doesn’t know the values learned from being a part of the working class.

“Working people do not exert themselves day after day just to buy the cheapest thing on the shelf for their family. I find it offensive that an out of touch billionaire can go on television and flaunt a work jacket that he wears on campaign stops that has not seen the heat of the sun, falling snow, and driving rain, and you should too,” he said. “He panders to working class people when he talks about his $18 watch, and I find that offensive. Does he really believe that any of us take pride in owning something cheap when we have the capacity and the means to purchase something nicer?”

Chicago Federation of Labor Labor Day Luncheon
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Gov. Pat Quinn, sporting his Jackie Robinson West shirt, takes a moment to shake hands and chat with CTU President Karen Lewis as Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan listens in during the 2nd annual CFL Labor Day Luncheon.

Ramirez railed against corporations who don’t respect their workers.

“In the 1890s, people were fighting to shorten the work day to eight hours to have more time to spend with their families. Today, corporations are using these laws to escape responsibilities to their employees by reducing them to part-time status, cheating workers out of health care benefits, paid sick and vacation time, and retirement packages,” he said.

“Capitalism without a conscience needs to stop. Corporations increasing profits at the expense of their workers is not how to thank workers for their labor,” Ramirez explained.

Chicago’s Pullman site could become a national park

Chicago's Pullman strike
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Bob Reiter, secretary-treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor knows Chicago is an industrial town and would like nothing more than to see the Pullman rail car factory become a national park.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com

CHICAGO — The historic Pullman rail car factory on Chicago’s southeast side is getting closer than ever to becoming the nation’s 402nd national park.

About 400 people made their way through a part of the factory on Labor Day to celebrate the labor heavy site, which tells the story of the modern U.S. labor and civil rights movements, as well as the Pullman Strike. A reenactment was performed of the “greatest strike in U.S. history,” which occurred 120 years ago when 4,000 workers went on strike at the factory to protest a reduction in wages.

“When you talk about labor history, you talk about the history of our city, of our state, and of our country,” said Bob Reiter, secretary-treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor, who spoke at the event.

“Chicago is an industrial town. These things that make our economies move — it’s our building infrastructure that allows us to build factories, that allows us to pay taxes so we can pay our teachers to teach our children and keep the community great.”

George Pullman originally bought land on the site for his Pullman Palace Car Company. He created a model community for his workers, including housing with gas and running water, a large hotel, churches, and a market square with indoor shopping.

According to the National Park Conservation Association, during the economic panic of 1893, Pullman reduced workers’ wages without reducing rents, resulting in the strike, disrupting rail traffic nationwide and resulting in the deaths of at least 30 workers at the hands of U.S. Marshals.

Congress passed legislation creating a national Labor Day holiday days after the strike ended. On Aug. 21, south side residents joined National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, and city, county, state and federal elected officials to discuss the pathway for preserving the Pullman story by including it in the National Park System.

Director Jarvis listened to the public feedback and said he would recommend the creation of a new national park site to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for an Antiquities Act designation by President Obama — which would make Pullman the 402nd national park and securing it as a mecca for labor.

“The ecosystem of our society revolves around working people and that’s what this factory symbolizes. From the people who laid the brick to the people who move the cars in and out of the factory, we need to preserve that history, and we need to preserve the dignity of workers,” said Reiter.