Holmes doesn’t want a world with no skilled labor

Sen. Linda Holmes
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Sen. Linda Holmes thanked the leadership and members of unions for their dedication to the workforce, which impacts lives everywhere.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com
View speech at Fox Valley Labor News YouTube Channel

AURORA — As the still yet unresolved Illinois pension issue drags on, State Sen. Linda Holmes said she’s going to bat for organized labor in the state.

“It’s a simple black and white issue. A group of people collectively bargained. Promises were made. They did their part. You don’t break a promise. It’s that simple. It was a matter of what is right, and what is wrong,” she said. “I will be back at the table negotiating, and will continue to fight on your behalf simply because it just makes sense. It economically makes sense that we’re out there supporting you, and you guys are making a good living wage.”

Holmes, who is running unopposed this fall, hosted her annual labor breakfast Aug. 28 at Pipers Banquets in Aurora. She is vice-chair of the labor committee in Springfield and said a non-resolution of the pension crisis means people simply don’t know what to count on.

“I was the one dissenting vote on the Pension Conference Committee. The toughest part for people is not knowing,” she said. “It’s a very scary thing, especially if they are close to retirement. That’s the terrifying part. I can ensure you as this comes up again, I will make sure to be an active voice in this.”

She offered a big thank you to her working constituents as the Labor Day holiday approached.

“I celebrate working men and women who made this country what it is. What we’re doing is celebrating what you do because it impacts every minute of our day,” she said.

She imagined a world without skilled labor.

“Think of how we would function without your part in what you do. From the minute we wake up, looking at the alarm taking electricity to function, to taking a shower thanks to plumbers and pipefitters, to the house you live in, putting a roof over your head, all the construction that goes into building that house — think of how every one of you affects every little bit of our daily life, and what would we do without that,” she said. “I don’t want to live in a world without a skilled plumber, or skilled electricians.”

Holmes said a big problem now is people think modern infrastructure can be achieved without using skilled labor.

“Do you really want your houses built, your roads built, your bridges built without someone who is skilled in their trade? We absolutely don’t,” she said.

Talk of responsible bidding during labor event

Sen. Mike Noland Labor Breakfast
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
State Sen. Mike Noland talks to union member and supporters during his recent Labor Breakfast. He acknowledged Illinois is a strong labor state and nothing can overcome the accomplishments organized labor has made.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com

SCHAUMBURG — State Sen. Michael Noland said it’s going to take shoe leather over dollars to beat big money politicians such as Republican nominated Bruce Rauner, who is running to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn for Illinois governor this fall. Union members must get out to vote, simply put.

“You really have to look to your rank and file, the people that are actually out in the field to organize. This is not going to become another Wisconsin. My feeling on this is so strong that it’s more knowledge than belief, but it’s not absolute, and it’s going to require us to come out, starting now.”

Noland hosted his annual labor breakfast fundraiser in Schaumburg June 24. A united front was suggested as a way to beat Republicans in the fall.

“The challenge is going to be to try to keep different campaigns from being hyperfocused on their own campaigns. Shoe leather over dollars. They will always have more money. But there are lessons out there. We have to keep the conversation going that we’ve started today,” he said.

Gov. Quinn faces a tough race from challenger Rauner this fall. Quinn’s union support has wavered since his handling of the inherited Illinois pension crisis, but the alternative in Rauner could be far more damaging.

Noland called Quinn “very smart,” in his government of the state. Since taking office Quinn has cut state spending by more than $5.7 billion. The cost of running the state government today is below 2008 levels, with among the lowest ratio of government employees in the nation.

The Governor’s pension reform plan, which Rauner tried to sabotage, will save the state $140 billion over 30 years. Unlike in previous decades, Gov. Quinn has also made the state’s full pension payment every year.

The Governor bargained a three-year agreement with public employee unions that saves the state $900 million in health care costs.

Noland was asked what will unite the building trades when a responsible bidder ordinance bill has stalled, even in a state with a Democratic governor and a super majority. He said more construction spending will ignite the troops who have waned out of frustration.

“We need a vertical capital bill. It needs to be truly comprehensive, including buildings, schools and more infrastructure,” he said. “We could probably pass a bill like that every five years for the next 30 years to meet the need for infrastructure improvements in Illinois.”

He said he hopes to see a graduated income tax option on the ballot during the next election cycle as well.

“Here in Illinois, such a strong labor state, when we choose to be, there is no external force that can overcome the accomplishments we’ve made together,” he said.