President's Report

Fall 2016

In January 2017, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Rather than fixate on what we lost at the national level, we need to appreciate what we were able to accomplish here at home, and there is good news to share.

In January 2017, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Rather than fixate on what we lost at the national level, we need to appreciate what we were able to accomplish here at home, and there is good news to share.

Here in Cook County, Hillary Clinton outperformed President Obama’s vote totals in 2012, earning 123,000 more votes than him. But why is this significant? Nationally, many are trying to figure out how we did this because our demographics are similar to rest of the United States. It’s because our movement does things here that no one else does. In Chicago and Cook County, we bucked a serious national trend in electoral politics because we know how to talk to working men and women.

There are very few national platforms that will resonate with voters in all corners of this country. So rather than talk to our members about issues that are not important to them, we worked to get results that would resonate within our communities. We fought for $15 an hour for hourly employees, just like many cities across the country continue to do, and we won $13 an hour. But, what sets us apart is we are the only city to include an index. This means in a few years when workers in other cities are fighting to raise the minimum wage again, our minimum wage will automatically increase with inflation. Additionally, we fought for worker protections at both the city and county level, including wage theft ordinances. In Chicago, approximately $1 million is stolen every day from workers’ pay checks. To combat this, we passed a wage theft ordinance in Cook County that prevents companies guilty of wage theft from winning county contracts and tax incentives. We also fought for earned sick time for workers, and in July 2017, ordinances in the city and the county will go into effect.

Our members are not directly impacted by increasing the minimum wage or earned sick time, but as a movement, we don’t just fight for those that are organized. We fight for those our unions intend to organize. We do this because it is right and just for all workers.

As a movement, we work to make our communities stronger. We continually fight to secure funding for social services. We fight for a budget that respects the most vulnerable in our communities. We fight to make sure we are moving the ball forward on education, and we stand with AFSCME in their ongoing fight for a fair contract with the governor.

There are 60 million Americans that would join a union today if they were free from interference from their employer. Policies should make it easier for folks to join a union, not harder. Why? Because unions elevate workers into the middle class. No political party, Republican or Democrat, can lay claim to that. Over the last 20 years, the Labor Movement has worked relentlessly to raise people up and improve working conditions for everyone.

Right now, I encourage all of us to stay focused on the 2018 elections. We must work together to do our part to bring more people to the game, to build our grassroots infrastructure and keep talking to our members about the issues. This is where our attention should be.

Print