President's Report

Issue 4 2017

The end of every year is always a bittersweet time. It is a chance to reflect on what happened over the previous 12 months and to look ahead to what the new year brings.

The end of every year is always a bittersweet time. It is a chance to reflect on what happened over the previous 12 months and to look ahead to what the new year brings.

In 2017, we continued the fight for workers and made substantial gains in the process. We stood up to sexual harassment and assault in the hospitality industry with the passage of the “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance at Chicago City Council. (Read more on page 6.) Our affiliated unions raised money to support individual causes that are important to them, including veteran groups, Easter Seals and Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. Then we came together to help families in need across the area through the NALC’s annual food drive in May and United Way’s United for the Holidays programs in December. (Read more on page 8.) We collaborated with area worker centers in their efforts to organize day laborers on Chicago’s Southwest Side. (2017 Issue 1) We broke ground on the CTA’s new $100 million rail car facility on the Southeast Side of Chicago. This new facility will create hundreds of new construction and skilled factory jobs. (2017 Issue 2) Several labor organizations, including the CFL, joined with private investors to purchase the iconic Chicago Sun-Times, the newspaper for Chicago’s working class. (2017 Issue 3) We teamed up with CISCO, the Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council, and United Way Metro Chicago to introduce Access United, a program that helps candidates on Chicago’s South and West sides identify, apply for, and succeed in apprenticeship programs within the building trades. (2017 Issue 3) But despite all the good we do
in our communities, there are forces out there who seek to destroy unions.

In February 2018, the Supreme Court will take up the case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. On the surface, this case will determine if public sector unions can charge “fair share” fees, the amount each member of a bargaining unit must pay to cover the cost associated with representation, to every member within the unit, regardless of their membership status. What this case is really about is the super-rich systematically dismantling the gains unions have won for all working people. They want to take away working people’s freedom to jointogether in strong unions because without unions, corporations will not have to bargain with workers for decent wages, affordable health benefits, safe worksites, time off to care for a loved one and dignity in retirement. If the Supreme Court sides with corporate interests, it could cut off a path to the middle class for millions of Americans, especially minorities and communities of color.

Governor Bruce Rauner filed the original lawsuit against AFSCME Council 31 in an attempt try to weaken the union by banning “fair share” fees in state government. When the federal court struck down Rauner’s case because he did not have the legal standing to bring it, Rauner found Mark Janus, a state employee who would allow the legal challenge to proceed in his name.

Whatever the outcome of the Janus case, know that our movement is strong and is here to stay, because unions give a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. No one person by him or herself is as powerful as we all are together.

Since Governor Rauner took office in 2015, our movement has banned together to overcome his anti-worker and anti-union rhetoric and his blatant attacks on our livelihoods. We stood together and fought off his attempts to pass his so-called Turnaround Agenda both at the state legislature and within local municipalities. We will continue to combat him throughout 2018 and will work hard to elect JB Pritzker Governor of Illinois.