President's Report — Winter 2016
Between now and Tuesday, March 15, we all have one obligation to each other: to vote in the 2016 Primary Election. Not only do we all need to vote, but we need to vote for candidates that will work to advance the Labor Movement as a whole, not work to destroy it.
On February 10, President Barack Obama addressed the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield. During his address, President Obama stated that politics has become extremely partisan in this country. Following the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February, the U.S. Constitution states the President shall appoint judges of the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. However, the Senate Republicans have already vowed to block any nomination President Obama makes because they claim the decision should be left up to the next President. It is irresponsible of them to prolong the process in an attempt to fulfill their own political agenda. Whether we are sending a representative to Washington, D.C. or to Springfield, Ill., our elected officials have an obligation to represent the best interests of us, the voters.
Here in Illinois’ 5th Legislative House District, Ken Dunkin is working against the best interests of working families in his district, the very men, women and children he was elected to represent. Last fall, Representative Dunkin sided with Governor Rauner to kill a measure supported by Democrats when he refused to show up for a critical vote that would set up a procedure for arbitration of state labor negotiations. He voted twice to strip retirement security from elderly workers. He voted against labor protections, like a bill to crack down on employers who don’t pay the wages they owe. He also voted against a bill that would allow firefighters and paramedics to receive assistance when they get cancer or heart disease as a result of their jobs. What does that say about Representative Dunkin’s perceived value of the hard working men and women of his district? He is not protecting the men and women in his district who put their lives on the line every day to protect us. He is not protecting the families of his district from wage theft, an unlawful practice by unscrupulous employers that costs workers in the City of Chicago roughly $1 million dollars a day. He is not fighting to maintain unemployment and workers compensation benefits for his district. The inability of working families to access support programs and services, like child care, adult education classes and healthcare, holds them back and in many cases, puts them at the brink of poverty.
Illinois Republicans used to find common ground with Democrats on bipartisan issues that are now being held hostage by Governor Rauner. The General Assembly has always been able to work with other governors to pass a budget that works for the people of Illinois. However, over the last year, Governor Rauner has driven a wedge between Democrats and Republicans and has made it impossible for Republicans to vote with Democrats on the policies that will help families in their districts. Illinois cannot withstand three more years of a governor who is willing to place the people of Illinois in harm’s way in order to pass his own ideological agenda.
We are in this together, and it is going to take a collective effort to elect leaders who will represent the workers of their district. A lost vote from the Labor Movement is a vote in favor of the destructive policies that threaten our very livelihood. Make the commitment to get out and vote this election season, and talk to your friends and family about it as well. The complete list of CFL-endorsed candidates for the 2016 Primary Election is on pages 8-9. For information on voting in your area, visit chicagolabor.org/vote.