Unions can help the vision of Aurora’s future

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

AURORA — Aurora is billed as the second most populous city in Illinois, but Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia doesn’t think the city looks like it houses almost 200,000 people.

“We have no skyscrapers. We have no convention centers. We’re on our way, but we’re not there yet,” she explained.

With the help of organized labor, Chapa LaVia wants to “build up” Aurora. “We can get it done. We can live somewhere we’re proud of,” she added, during a recent Labor Breakfast Fundraiser Sept. 18 for her bid as Aurora Mayor, held at the Painters District Council 30. She announced her mayoral bid June 22 to friends and supporters during a press conference at the Copley Theater in Aurora.

With the help of organized labor, Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia wants to ‘build up’ Aurora. She announced her bid as mayor of Aurora in June. She would like to see Aurora with skyscrapers and convention centers. Jennifer Rice, staff photographer

With the help of organized labor, Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia wants to ‘build up’ Aurora. She announced her bid as mayor of Aurora in June. She would like to see Aurora with skyscrapers and convention centers. Jennifer Rice, staff photographer

linda chapa la via_4

This SEIU 73 member said his union is happy to support Rep. Linda Chapa La Via. “I’m proud to have a high-ranking Latina enter this race,” he explained. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

PDC 30 Director of Membership Services Brian Dahl said Chapa LaVia has been a strong voice for labor in Springfield for organized labor. “We appreciate everything she does for labor. Her votes have been very strong for organize labor. She’s looking to take that to the city of Aurora.” Dahl added labor is backing and supporting her in her mayoral bid.

 Members of organized labor listened to Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia during a labor breakfast fundraiser Sept. 18. In planning for her upcoming mayoral bid for the city of Aurora, she discussed her vision of Aurora and stressed she needs the help of unions to see her vision through. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Members of organized labor listened to Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia during a labor breakfast fundraiser Sept. 18. In planning for her upcoming mayoral bid for the city of Aurora, she discussed her vision of Aurora and stressed she needs the help of unions to see her vision through. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Chapa LaVia is comfortable with maintaining her position as state representative, along with planning her upcoming mayoral bid — a format Republican candidates Chris Lauzen and Jim Oberweis have finessed over the years.

“Why is it different for Linda Chapa La Via to run this way?” she questioned attendants of her fundraiser. “Republicans will answer, ‘because she’s a Democrat.’ I don’t want it all — I just want to move families forward,” she explained.

Chapa LaVia’s father was a UAW member, working for Catapillar. “He had a fifth grade education, but the unions gave him a shot,” she said. “I have a lot of respect for unions. I want to lift you up on my shoulders, wherever I need to take you,” she told union members.

 AFSCME Local 3298 member Anna Ishmael told attendants she looks forward to working with Rep. Linda Chapa La Via. Local 3298 represents the Professional, Technical and Clerical Employees in the city of Aurora. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

AFSCME Local 3298 member Anna Ishmael told attendants she looks forward to working with Rep. Linda Chapa La Via. Local 3298 represents the Professional, Technical and Clerical Employees in the city of Aurora. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Labor and scouting, a brotherhood of unity, leadership

UA General President William P. Hite
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Save the date for Jan. 20, 2015, when UA General President William P. Hite will be awarded the AFL-CIO George Meany Award in Chicago.

By By Robert F. Melko
Plumbing Council of Chicagoland and 2015
Labor & Scouting Event Chairman
Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014

CHICAGO – I am pleased to announce the Boy Scouts of America Chicago Council has partnered with the Plumbing Council of Chicagoland to honor UA General President William P. Hite as the recipient of the AFL-CIO George Meany Award on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Chicago. Information can be found at chicagobsa.org/union and questions can be directed to the Plumbing Council of Chicagoland at 312-263-6612 or by email at sj@plumbingcouncil.org.

There is a growing skills gap crisis facing the construction trades sector and the many other critical fields relating to our industry including engineering and manufacturing. The latest economic figures estimate nearly 1.6 million new skilled workers will be needed over the next decade in order to replace our retiring workforce.

Yet finding eager and qualified apprentices to enter into our construction trades presents our industry with quite a challenge. Recruitment numbers in the Chicago and surrounding suburban counties are at an all-time low. By my own estimate as the UA Local 130 Joint Apprenticeship Committee Co-Chair, our plumbing apprentice numbers are significantly down by more than two-thirds this year. Plus, our efforts to reach kids at the high school level are often thwarted by well-intentioned yet uninformed guidance counselors trying to boost their college acceptance rates even though 75 percent of these students never complete their degree, despite the astronomical costs of a higher education. Thinking “outside the pipe” is our only viable option in this matter.

The Boy Scouts of America has a long standing relationship with the American Labor Movement. These two entities share many common goals, including the pursuit of preparedness, economic justice and the value of hard work. This is especially valid when it comes to training the next generation with the critical science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills and apprenticeship education needed to boost our nation’s competitiveness. It’s also evident in the merit badges of our diverse labor trades and their ability to foster a genuine interest in construction industry careers among today’s youth and tomorrow’s construction leaders.

Unfortunately, too many of our current union leaders and business labor partners have lost touch with the Boy Scouts. Many of our merit badges and skilled labor lessons have simply been collecting dust. Our involvement in Boy Scouts career days and STEM exploration events are almost non-existent. And our mentoring of today’s Boy Scouts could use some work.

But all of that can change by partnering and exploring new avenues of learning. By working together, we can have a profound impact on our nation’s economic prosperity.

Through the joint efforts of the Plumbing Council of Chicagoland and the Boy Scouts of America Chicago Area Council, we are re-kindling a spark that will hopefully ignite a much needed flame for the construction trades and in turn close the skills gap shortage.

UA General President William P. Hite
Photo courtesy of the Plumbing Council of Chicagoland
Plumbing Contractors Association of Chicago Director Brian Wilk (Bishop Plumbing) leads a delegation of local Boy Scouts around the UA’s Instructor Day training facilities at Washtenaw College in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The AFL-CIO Executive Council established the George Meany Award in 1974 to recognize union members who have made a significant contribution to the youth of their communities by volunteering in the programs of the Boy Scouts of America. The award is named for the AFL-CIO’s first president, who demonstrated strong support to Scouting.

The George Meany award has not been bestowed upon a Chicago labor leader for many decades. But if this event reaches the level of success and notoriety I know it will, UA General President Hite — who is a former Boy Scout and Sea Scout and native of the Chicago area, will be the new start of a long list of labor leaders to receive this prestigious recognition. More importantly, it will re-connect our construction trade industries with the Boy Scouts of America in a profound way that will benefit both organizations.

Already, we are seeing how this skilled labor and scouting event will reap rewards. The local Boy Scouts Council in Michigan recently invited by the Plumbing Council of Chicago to attend the UA Instructor’s 61st Annual Training Program at Washtenaw College in Ann Arbor. Not only did the scouts present the colors at the opening ceremony, but they toured the campus facilities and spoke directly with contractors, instructors, union leaders, industry professionals and apprentices as they participated in hands-on training to explore plumbing and pipefitting as potential career options. Tellingly, one of the scouts even commented, “this was the best event I have ever been forced to attend.”

The launch of this inaugural event and re-discovered partnership with the Boy Scouts will allow us to maximize our already successful Boy Scout merit badge programs in Plumbing, Welding and American Labor. I am excited to announce the research of an HVAC merit badge is currently in the works.

I would like to invite everyone interested in learning more about the genuine partnership between the Boy Scouts of America and our construction trades to support our inaugural “Celebration of Labor and Scouting Unity” gala in Chicago for Hite. Tickets, commemorative book ads and sponsorship opportunities are ready for purchase.

Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant-general in the British Army, writer, and founder of the Scout Movement said, “The secret of getting successful work out of your trained men lies in one nutshell — in the clearness of the instructions they receive.” And to that, I would respond, “Let us clearly instruct today’s scouts into becoming tomorrow’s apprentices. They represent our future. All we have to do now is to show them the way.”

Companies rewarded for fair wages, good benefits

Sen. Dick Durbin visits steel factory
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin tours Chicago’s Wheatland Tube, a steel pipe manufacturing plant which provides workers with a livable wage with benefits, acting as the blueprint for a quality American job provider.

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

CHICAGO — U.S. Senator Dick Durbin introduced legislation June 23 that aims to provide a tax credit to companies that provide fair wages and good benefits to workers while closing a tax loophole that incentivizes corporations to send jobs overseas.

The loophole costs the U.S. Treasury approximately $50 billion each year at a time when outsourced jobs and stagnant wages force more American families to turn to safety net programs to make ends meet.

Durbin toured Wheatland Tube, a steel pipe manufacturing plant on Chicago’s south side which provides workers with a livable wage with benefits, acting as the blueprint for a quality American job provider.

“Instead of rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, we should be rewarding companies that invest in their workers by providing fair wages, health insurance and retirement benefits,” Durbin said.

“What sense does it make to hand $50 billion in taxpayer money to companies that export American jobs? In a time of tight budgets, we should reserve tax credits for the companies that do the most to help workers and our economy here at home, not corporations that ship jobs overseas,” he explained.

The Patriot Employer Tax Credit Act would grant a tax credit equivalent to 10 percent of the first $15,000 of wages earned by each employee- worth about $1,200 per qualifying worker depending on the company’s federal effective tax rate, to companies that meet the following criteria:

Invest in American jobs: Companies must maintain headquarters in the United States if the company has ever been headquartered in America, has not inverted to avoid U.S. taxes, must maintain or increase the number of workers in the United States compared to the number of workers overseas, and does not decrease the number of workers through the use of contractors.

Pay fair wages: Pay at least 90 percent of United States workers an hourly wage equal to 150 percent of poverty for a family of three- about $30,000 per year.

Provide quality health insurance: offer Affordable Care Act — compliant health insurance to employees.

Prepare workers for retirement: Provide 90 percent of non-highly compensated United States employees a defined benefit plan or a defined contribution plan with an employer contribution or match equal to at least five percent of worker compensation.

Support our troops and veterans: Pay the difference between regular salary and military compensation for all National Guard and reserve employees called for active duty and have a plan in place to recruit veterans.

Create a diverse workforce: Have a plan in place to recruit employees with disabilities.

Companies with fewer than 50 employees who face different business circumstances than larger corporations, can qualify for the tax credit by fulfilling a subset of these criteria.

To offset the cost of the Patriot Employer Tax Credit, the legislation would close a loophole that allows corporations to deduct interest expenses used to invest overseas, such as the interest costs of building a manufacturing plant overseas or shipping materials abroad, while allowing the company to defer paying taxes on income derived from those investments until it is repatriated.

Durbin said he’s hopeful the act will be successful.