Strike authorization vote begins

AFSCME possible strike

AFSCME Council 31 members will decide whether or not to authorize its Bargaining Committee to call a strike. The Strike Authorization Vote will take place in each local union through Feb. 19. If a majority of union members vote ‘yes,’ that does not necessarily mean there will be a strike — as the Bargaining Committee will continue to do everything possible to reach a fair settlement. But it does mean that if all such efforts fail, state employees will be prepared to go out on strike if the Committee issues the call. Photo courtesy of AFSCME Council 31

Fox Valley Labor News
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017

SPRINGFIELD – One year ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner walked out on negotiations for a new contract with state employees. Then and now, employees have made clear their willingness to return to the bargaining table and work constructively to find common ground. But the governor has rejected compromise at every turn.

Just as he has refused to work toward a solution to the state’s fiscal woes — harming citizens all across Illinois — he’s taking the same counterproductive ‘my way or the highway’ approach with his own employees.

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These dedicated public servants who protect children from abuse, monitor air and water quality, respond to natural disasters, care for aged veterans, and so much more, stood ready to negotiate, but instead, Rauner asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board, which he appoints, to declare negotiations to be at “impasse.”

When the Labor Board granted his request, it opened the door for Rauner to move forward to impose his own extreme terms on state employees, including elimination of all safeguards against irresponsible subcontracting, a four-year wage and step freeze and a 100 percent increase in employee health care premiums.

The wage freeze combined with such a steep health care hike would mean a $10,000 pay cut for the average state employee. That might not be much to Rauner, but it’s too much for the rest of us.

AFSCME has appealed the Labor Board’s decision and successfully secured a temporary stay that prevents the governor from imposing his terms for the time being. However, the stay could be lifted at any time.

Recently, in an effort to break the year-long stalemate, AFSCME took the unprecedented step of putting forward a new settlement framework that significantly modifies the union’s previous positions on core economic issues. Under this framework, employees would receive no base wage increase for four years—and pay a modest increase in their health insurance costs.

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Unfortunately, rather than welcoming these more-than-reasonable terms, and working to chart a new course to a fair settlement, the governor is still refusing to make any compromise whatsoever. Within hours of receiving the union’s letter regarding the new framework, he dismissed its terms as “superficial” and wildly exaggerated their potential cost to the state.

That’s why AFSCME members will now decide whether or not to authorize their Bargaining Committee to call a strike.

The Strike Authorization Vote will take place in each local union through Feb. 19. If a majority of union members vote ‘yes,’ that does not necessarily mean there will be a strike — as the Bargaining Committee will continue to do everything possible to reach a fair settlement. But it does mean that if all such efforts fail, state employees will be prepared to go out on strike if the Committee issues the call.

The AFSCME Bargaining Committee recommends voting YES. For more information, state employees can visit the State Contract Info Center.
—AFSCME Council 31

Troubled workers’ comp system shows need for single-payer health care

illinois_single_payer

Illinois Single Payer Coalition

By Johanna Ryan with Anne Scheetz, MD
Johanna Ryan is a workers’ comp paralegal and a member of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition.
Anne Scheetz, MD, a member of Physicians for a National Health Program and a founding member of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition, cared for many patients with work-related health problems before her retirement from clinical practice.
Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016

Please sign up as a supporter, persuade your union to do the same, and make sure to get involved. References:
– Number of Illinois workers’ comp claims
– Gov. Bruce Rauner’s turn-around agenda
– Illinois occupational illness and injury statistics

In Illinois and around the nation, big business has labeled workers’ compensation a system in crisis. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has depicted it as a millstone around the necks of Illinois employers, who he claims are shelling out too much money to treat injuries that might not even be work-related. Rauner and other Republican governors have made “reforming” workers’ compensation a key part of their pro-business agenda.

However, any worker who has had to use the system lately knows the real “workers’ comp crisis” is too little health care, not too much. In Illinois, as in most states, your employer is required to carry standard workers’ comp insurance. But it’s private companies like Liberty Mutual, Travelers and AIG/Chartis that provide the coverage — and they would much rather pay lawyers to fight your claim than pay doctors to help you get well.

Under the system they’ve created, a worker hurt on the job is actually at higher risk of being denied medical care (or having their treatment cut short) than a worker who falls getting out of the bathtub at home.

We believe the best way to fight the growing attacks on workers’ compensation is to take private insurance companies out of the picture. A public, single-payer health care system, financed by taxes rather than insurance premiums, would accomplish these goals:

– Eliminate delays and outright denial of care and the resulting long-term adverse effects on workers’ health;
– Take medical decisions out of the hands of insurance companies and place them where they belong: in the hands of patients and their doctors; and
– Make prevention the preferred approach to work-related health problems by strengthening our public health infrastructure.

This is the type of health care system workers in almost every other wealthy industrialized nation take for granted. Here in the USA, it has been endorsed by the United Mine Workers, National Nurses United, the Machinists’ Union, Amalgamated Transit Union and many others. Single-payer health care is a pro-active, rather than a reactive, approach to workers’ health. It is an ambitious program, but workers deserve no less.

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To get medical care in a workers’ comp case, it’s not enough to show it’s necessary. You must also prove it’s related to a workplace injury. This can be especially hard for “wear-and-tear” injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis, but it can also affect the worker who falls off a ladder or is struck by a forklift.

Private insurers love to litigate these cases – they know it has a chilling effect on the next worker who thinks about filing a claim. So they’re happy to spend several thousand dollars to have you examined by an employer-friendly medical specialist who will declare your work injury was just a “minor strain,” and your current symptoms are due to chronic arthritis, an old football injury or some other cause. No PT for you, pal, and definitely no surgery.

Rauner wants to make the standard for causation even higher, by requiring that an accident at work must be more than 50 percent responsible for an injury compared to all other causes. He also wants the records made by the treating physician — the one who actually knows the patient and who assessed the problem at the time of its occurrence — to count for less, and the opinions of those employer-friendly “independent medical examiners” to count for more.

Such changes taken together would gut workers’ compensation. Employers who are reckless with workers’ health will be even more confident they can get away with it. Workers’ risk of injury will increase, and their access to care and compensation will decrease.

In theory, workers’ comp expenses should give employers an incentive to make the workplace safer. It would be nice if that were the case. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find anyone in the field who believes it. Workers’ comp costs are much like the legal fines and penalties paid by drug companies — just a cost of doing business, which is never big enough to make them change their ways.

Employers are fond of moaning about the high cost of workers’ comp, and make a public scandal out of any individual case of cheating, real or alleged. But the real root of rising costs is litigation, not featherbedding or fraud. Private workers’ comp carriers have made Illinois a happy hunting ground for insurance defense lawyers, even as the number of workers’ comp claims in the past decade has shrunk by more than a third. The changes Rauner proposes would make this much worse.

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Take the example of one injured worker we know: A woman who’s been waiting a year and a half for repair of her torn rotator cuff, precisely because of this type of dispute. She now has neck and back problems too, thanks to months of trying to use her trapezius muscles to compensate for her damaged shoulder. Ask any doctor: when she finally gets her surgery, the results will be worse than average on account of all that delay.

A single-payer health care system would cover the care she needed, with no questions asked. Her lawyers could concentrate on fighting to get her disability payments and an eventual cash settlement; we wouldn’t have to to fight over medical care. Our client could at least get her surgery and physical therapy, even if the workers’ comp carrier denied her weekly benefit checks. She could recover and be working a new job while she waited for her shoulder claim to settle.

Relying on workers’ comp claims filed by individuals (or their next of kin) to enforce respect for workplace safety just doesn’t make sense. Would we depend on lawsuits alone to keep poisoned or spoiled foods off the market? Workplace safety, just like food safety, is a public health issue. We need public enforcement bodies, with real power, and with real penalties for violations.

According to an AFL-CIO report, in 2015, Illinois only had enough Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors to inspect all job sites only once every 143 years. The average penalty for a fatality investigation, of which there were 56, was $8,553. This clearly falls short of what’s needed to enforce workplace safety standards and protect workers’ lives. (A few states, such as Washington, have public workers’ compensation insurance funds with some limited powers over workplace safety. Unions in Washington strongly support this system. When Liberty Mutual and other private insurers tried to enter the market a few years ago, labor fought the measure through a statewide referendum and won.)

Wouldn’t we all be better off under a single-payer system that guaranteed treatment for any illness or injury, without a legal battle over the cause? Such a system would not only be cheaper, but it would provide better care. There was a time when most specialists welcomed workers’ comp patients. However, given endless payment delays and litigation hassles, those days are fast becoming history.

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Instead of seeing the best doctors, too many injured workers have to put up with pro-employer “occupational health” clinics, or third-rate providers who pad their bills with useless charges to compensate for long payment delays.

Imagine if everyone, from janitors to CEO’s, carried the same health insurance card! You would choose your own doctors and other care providers. No specialist would turn you away because of the type of insurance you had. You and your doctor – not your employer’s workers’ comp carrier, or any other insurance company, would make decisions about tests, surgery, physical therapy, medical equipment, and other care.

All care would be paid for by progressive taxes, and free at the point of service. Hospitals would not shut down in low-income neighborhoods if the residents had the same high-quality insurance as everyone else. No one would lose their health insurance through leaving a job, going on strike, or for any other reason.

Also, injured workers could get immediate care without having to prove to anyone exactly where, when or how they got hurt.

Workers’ comp lawyers (and we’d still need them) could concentrate on fighting for compensation – and we wouldn’t see clients dropping their claims or settling for pennies because they were desperate for medical care.

A strong public health system, the foundation on which primary care and specialty care must rest in order to be effective, would make protection of workers’ health a high priority.

That’s what a single payer system could offer all of us, union or nonunion. It sounds like a better way to us.

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.

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10 stories

Fox Valley Labor News staff reports
Thursday, Dec. 31, 2016

Staff at the Fox Valley Labor News looks back at 2015’s Top Ten stories that impacted Labor and you – was your pick No. 1?

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10
‘If we must, we will withhold our labor’

‘If we must, we will withhold our labor’

The call for a strike by members of the Chicago Teachers Union came weeks before the year ended, but it’s still important enough to make our Top Ten lest this year.

An overwhelming majority of the Chicago Teachers Union, 88 percent, voted Dec. 14 to allow union leaders to call for a strike. It will be several months before the union decides whether to actually begin a strike. First, they’re going on a “fact-finding mission” in one last effort to resolve the negotiations.

If they do decide to walk out of their classrooms, it will be the second time the union — which has 27,000 members and serves the nation’s third largest school district in the nation — has gone on strike in just a few years.


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Archbishop Blase Cupich supports labor

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

In a speech to union members in September, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich pledged his support and that of the Catholic Church to strengthening the labor movement, talking about the principles of solidarity and the protection of the dignity of workers that link the labor movement and the Catholic Church together.

The Archbishop detailed expectations union members can have of the Archdiocese, pledging the church will be a prominent voice and ally in standing up for workers’ rights. Cupich directly challenged the measures of Right to Work laws.


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Secret TPP text unveiled – it’s worse than we thought

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

As one would expect with a deal negotiated behind closed doors with 500 corporate advisers and the public and press shut out — the agreement helps big business — not everyday Americans.

It’s predicted the deal will cause a massive trade deficit in manufacturing, which would result in hundreds of thousands of job losses.

The TPP would make it easier for corporations to offshore American jobs and would push down wages by throwing Americans into competition with Vietnamese workers making less than 65 cents an hour. It does nothing to stop international rule breakers — and countries like China will once again be the winners.


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Scabby the Rat stands strong

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

We couldn’t have a complete Top Ten list without the mention of Scabby the Rat and his Fat Cat counterpart. Without fail, these inflatables have stood strong for union members, helping secure union contracts and raising awareness of businesses using non-signatory contractors.

Scabby shows up everywhere! He’s been spotted at Twin Peaks restaurant in Warrenville; in Schaumburg protesting Miller Concrete Construction; in Niles supporting Chicago-area Coco-Cola refreshment workers on strike; in Westmont where LiUNA Local 68 was protesting Prime and in East Dundee where he was supporting locked out members of IAM Automobile Mechanics Local 701 when members picketed Al Piemonte Chevrolet.


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CPS financial mess

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

The mess that is the Chicago Public School system has suffered one blunder after another. The federal investigation into CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett role in a $20 million no-bid contract to the SUPES Academy was a major shady deal. Her departure hasn’t helped matters. After a year-long talk of a possible strike, teachers voted this month to authorize a strike.

After years of budget gimmicks and massive borrowing, CPS approved an operating budget, but it depended on a half-billion dollars’ worth of money from Springfield — which has yet to materialize. CPS is now looking at laying off thousands of teachers. Parents have turned to hunger strikes to get recognition for the plights of their children and their schools. Special education spending was cut and parents are still feeling the pain of 50 school closings in 2013.


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Fast food and retail workers Fight for $15

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

For the third year in a row, the call-to-action Fight for $15 campaign shows up in our Top Ten. This year, we saw Los Angeles, New York and other cities raise the minimum wage for their citizens.

Locally, the Fight for $15 campaign delivered 1.4 million petitions to McDonald’s shareholder meeting, urging hourly wages for the burger giant’s front-line workers be increased to $15 an hour.

In April Tens of thousands of workers from all low wage sectors and communities across America and the world made history in a massive mobilization for better pay, respect, and corporate accountability.

Effective July 1, McDonald’s increased starting wages to $1 above the local minimum at 1,500 company-owned restaurants. It does not effect franchisees, which operate the majority of U.S. restaurants.


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Organized labor takes on big projects

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

Organized labor rose to the challenge when it came to constructing projects in 2015 throughout the Chicagoland area. This month, CISCO will present its 2015 Pride in Construction Awards, which range from medical centers and parks to apartments and lofts.

In Aurora, the building trades were praised for their craftsmanship on the new Aurora library, a $28 million project, and for expansions to the Premium Outlet Mall and the Wrigley Manufacturing Co. in Yorkville.

Some Chicago construction included the Madison Racine Apartments, Cancer Treatment Center of America, Maggie Daley Park, Lemont Wet Weather Treatment Facility & Reservoir, Bensenville Police & Emergency Management Headquarters and AMLI Lofts.


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Sanders VS Clinton

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

Who’s going to win the Democratic nomination for president — Sen. Bernie Sanders or former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton? Time will tell. Top national labor unions have backed both candidates for different reasons. National leaders at SEIU announced an official endorsement of Clinton, despite Sanders getting a lot of support from local chapters. The American Postal Workers Union, the United Electrical Workers and the National Nurses United are backing Sanders. Former Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen is also helping lead the effort for Team Bernie.

At first, organized labor was hesitant to back Clinton — due to her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and hesitance to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But along with SEIU backing Clinton, so is the American Federation of Teachers, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

Both Clinton and Sanders are succeeding by addressing some pretty mainstream issues: raising the minimum wage, equal pay protections for women, paid family leave, making college affordable, and universal background checks for gun purchases. The Democrats are not insulting each other and they are not spinning fantastic conspiracy theories — unlike the candidates on the GOP side.


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Who’s the craziest GOP presidential nominee?

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

The opportunity to run for president on the GOP ticket has turned into 3 ring circus. The presidential hopefuls have been whittled down from 17. Hands down, Donald Trump leads the pack of dimwits. Unfortunately, little can stop the rise of Trump. No matter how offensive or nonsensical his views, the millionaire businessman keeps doing better and better in the polls. From his views on Hillary Clinton’s inability to please her husband to his attacks on the physical appearance of other women, Trump proves time and time again what an ass he is.

We can’t forget how he suggested John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured, or how he characterized Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” Trump would also like to date his daughter Ivanka, you know, if she wasn’t already his DAUGHTER.


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Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-worker obsession

2015 Fox Valley Labor News Top 10

Illinois closes out 2015 and heads into 2016 without a state budget and with a governor at the helm doing nothing to remedy the issue. All year, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has pushed his Turnaround Agenda onto cities and municipalities, all in the hopes it will be approved so he can limit collective bargaining and the rights of workers injured on the job – hurting the middle class. Without a budget since July 1, vital human service agencies that receive state funding are hurting. As cities and municipalities consider Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, organized labor has shown up in droves to voice their concerns on Rauner’s anti-worker tactics, the elimination of prevailing wage and the implementation of right to work zones, which would strip workers of their right to form strong unions and bargain for a better life.

Budget impasse may cripple IMSA students

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Sen. Linda Holmes

Senator Linda Holmes
Personal view
Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015

The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy is facing financial difficulties. It draws funding from the state’s higher ed appropriations, and Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed that spending. IMSA has informed parents it faces major financial hurdles starting in December as a result. Fair labor laws and access to quality education ensure a thriving middle class, and right now it seems both are in peril.

I am frustrated at the continued impasse in Springfield that now threatens to derail the education of some of our state’s brightest students.

The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora draws some of the highest performing students from across Illinois to focus on science, technology, engineering and math. These are the fields which are critical to the continued success of our country’s role as a lead innovator. As Gov. Bruce Rauner refuses to work with the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly to craft a compromise budget, one of the unfunded portions is higher education. IMSA relies on part of that budget to fund its operations.

I helped approve a budget for higher education in Illinois. Gov. Rauner vetoed it, eliminating all funding.

Now, IMSA has informed parents that, absent state support for higher education, it does not know how it will continue operations come December.

At this point, I don’t know what will move Gov. Rauner off his anti-union agenda that everything, including the state budget and IMSA funding, is tied to. His inaction already closed the doors of a 60-year-old child care facility in Aurora and sent the message to physically and financially vulnerable Illinoisans that their state does not care about them.

This intractable situation is poised to affect children whose achievements could shape the future of the state in areas vital to our economic success. I want to urge your readers to call for an end to the budget stalemate, on behalf of schools like IMSA and the public universities that are also imperiled by this failure. I helped approve a spending plan that went to the governor.

He could have worked with us to make changes to what he didn’t like. Instead, he shut almost everything down. It is up to him to act like a statesman.

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.

A rally in the rain against Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda

Rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner

Rain didn’t deter the determination of union members who showed up in force in Oak Forest June 15 for a rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner and his Turnaround Agenda. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

You can view videos of the Gaelic Park union protest by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel

OAK FOREST — It was no surprise Gov. Bruce Rauner (once again) entered through the back door of a building where his supporters inside were waiting to hear him discuss his Turnaround Agenda.

June 15, Rauner conveniently avoided the thick union presence at the front entrance of the Chicago Gaelic Park in Oak Forest, unwilling to confront union members to take their questions about repealing prevailing construction wage and scaling back workers’ compensation.

Rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner

Hundreds of union members gathered in the parking lot of Oak Forest’s Chicago Gaelic Park to rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner’s discussing his Turnaround Agenda. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Rauner spoke at the multi-chamber event with the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce. Rauner was visiting the Southland to speak about his Turnaround Agenda, asking the mostly civic and business leaders to urge their state legislators to support his Turnaround Agenda.

While inside, hundreds of union members across Chicagoland gathered outside to rally against to Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, where even hard driving rain wouldn’t keep them away. When Rauner was situated inside, members entered the lobby where they chanted “Rauner, Rauner — we say no. Right to Work has got to go.”

Rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner

A Sheet Metal Worker Local 73 member holds a sign to vehicles arriving at the Chicago Gaelic Park to hear Gov. Bruce Rauner speak on his Turnaround Agenda. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

As Rauner’s caravan exited the parking lot, one union members said, “I hope he likes term limits — because he’s going to be a one term governor.”

Rally against Gov. Bruce Rauner

An Iron Worker Local 5 member holds a sign to vehicles arriving at the Chicago Gaelic Park to hear Gov. Bruce Rauner speak on his Turnaround Agenda. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

We can’t forget that as a candidate, Rauner repeatedly vowed to “shut down state government” in order to weaken the rights and drive down the wages of public service workers. Since taking office, he has pushed for budget cuts that are harmful to children, seniors and middle-class families, instead of working together with lawmakers to solve real problems. And he has traveled the state giving speeches that attack working people, especially public service workers.

Rauner’s Executive Order takes aim at unions

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Feb. 9 Executive Order

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery called Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Feb. 9 Executive Order “a blatant abuse of power” to try and eliminate so-called fair share dues paid by workers who don’t join a union. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015

SPRINGFIELD — In what Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery called “a blatant abuse of power,” Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an Executive Order Feb. 9 blocking thousands of state employees from paying fair share fees. The Governor also announced he has filed suit in federal court to have fair share provisions declared unconstitutional.

Rauner said 6,500 state employees are paying so-called “fair share” dues, or an average of $577 a year per worker.

Montgomery vowed the IFT will “proudly stand and fight alongside others to oppose Rauner’s overreaching order.”

Fair share fees are payments required of individuals who receive the pay and other contractual benefits negotiated by the union but who choose not to join. The Governor’s order may impact a small number of IFT state employee members, but it does not impact teachers or other employees in K-12 school districts or higher education faculty.

Decatur Club

Union members met Gov. Bruce Rauner outside the Decatur Club Feb. 6 in Decatur to send Rauner the message that right-to-work is wrong for Illinois. Photo courtesy of Decatur Trades & Labor Assembly

Rauner’s announcement makes it clear once again: While the state is suffering from significant fiscal problems, the new Governor’s priority is to attack middle class families and the unions who represent them rather than find real solutions to our challenges
The IFT is just one of several union committed to joining the fight against Rauner. AFSCME, which represents thousands of state workers, strongly condemned the Governor’s attack. AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch. “Our union and all organized labor will stand together with those who believe in democracy to overturn Bruce Rauner’s illegal action and restore the integrity of the rule of law,” she explained.

3_rauner executive order

Rauner can be overruled by the courts, or if lawmakers can gather enough votes to override his decision. Democrats hold supermajorities in the state Legislature.

Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said Rauner has been on a “blame crusade” that unfairly targets public employees.

“While he points to the salaries of those cooking the food in the cafeterias, guarding the prisoners and plowing the snow and ice from our roads as the culprits in our state financial woes, he is silent on the hundreds of tax breaks granted to large businesses and low corporate income tax in Illinois,” Carrigan said.

The executive order followed Rauner’s proposal last week, during his State of the State Address, for Illinois to adopt “right to work” zones around the state where communities are able to decide whether joining a union or paying union fees would be voluntary for local workers.