LaborLetter Strength In Solidarity Spring 2006 Vol. 27, No. 1 QUOTE: “ We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Budget Passes; includes increased funding for education, DOL, prison guards, and renewable fuel facilities; Governor's Capital Program stalled by Republican leaders The Illinois General Assembly adjourned Spring Session on May 5th after passing a $45.8 billion operating budget and worker-friendly bills. The 2007 budget includes increased funding for the Department of Labor, education, health care and hiring additional prison guards, but does not include funding to restore some 2,000 workers to the state payroll as requested by AFSCME. The budget does include $6,305,000 for the Department of Labor, a 9% increase from 2006. A portion of the money will be used to hire seven new employees to investigate prevailing wage and other wage violations. "This increased funding will go a long way towards better enforcement of the new and existing wage laws in Illinois," said Art Ludwig, director of the Department of Labor. "Each year since Gov. Blagojevich has been in office we have passed more effective, progressive laws to protect workers' rights and safety. But to make sure those laws are carried out and violations are investigated in a timely way, we have to have sufficient staff. Now we can add to our staff and be more responsive." Education and early childhood development program funding was increased. Spending on elementary and secondary education will climb $415 million, including a pilot program to reduce class size in kindergarten through 3rd grades and a grant program for families struggling to afford the high cost of college. Funding for pre-school programs will increase by $45 million this year, allowing 10,000 more children to get an early start on their education. There is a $48 million increase for higher education, including $7 million for community college grants. And after -school programs will receive a $12 million increase. The budget includes hiring 250 additional prison guards. The state police will get $3 million for new recruit training, $8.4 million to purchase new squad cars and $1.8 million for the Prairie State DNA Institute that will eliminate outsourcing of DNA testing. In 2007, Gov. Blagojevich's All Kids health insurance program will go into effect, giving every uninsured child in Illinois access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage. The Governor also created the Illinois Cares Rx program so that no senior would lose coverage after the federal government implemented the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit program that actually provides Illinois seniors with less coverage than they previously had. To address the severe nursing shortage, the budget includes $1.3 million in nursing education scholarships and another $1.5 million for grants to nursing schools to increase the number of graduating nurses. The budget also includes $20 million to be invested in alternative and renewable fuel facilities and $5 million for research into Legislative Session Ends renewable fuels at SIU and WIU. Building, maintaining and operating additional ethanol plants in the state will provide good-paying jobs and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil products. The Governor's Capital Budget for infrastructure and school construction was stalled by Republican legislators. The proposed Capital plan would have pumped $6 billion into Illinois' construction industry creating an estimated 230,000 goodpaying jobs and financing the construction of highways, interchanges, bridges, transit facilities and schools, as well as paying for school maintenance and new city buses. The Governor's program was based on the state matching $3 billion in federal transportation funding that was approved by Congress earlier this year. Illinois will lose the federal matching dollars if our share is not met. Republican lawmakers rejected the Governor's proposed plan to improve Illinois' infrastructure and create better public schools, not wanting to give credence to the program and the Governor before the November election. The Governor's Capital Program was endorsed by the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, a diverse group of Labor unions and contractors that lobbied state lawmakers for passage of the bill. It has been two years since a Capital program was approved in Illinois. Legislation Labor-friendly legislators from around the state stood together during the Spring Session to pass several laws that support workers. The Film Production Tax Incentive bill passed overwhelmingly giving Illinois’ video and film production industry a major advantage over other states in attracting major movie and commercial work to the state. (See article on page 2.) Another important law passed that will help the Illinois Department of Labor better enforce minimum wage laws. And several laws passed to help protect workers from work place harm, including better protection for utility workers and coal miners. (See article below on mine safety legislation.) However, after many hours of work, many meetings, and numerous heated debates the independent contractor bill failed to pass the Illinois House of Representatives. INSIDE Election Results Page 3 Labor & Politics Page 6 & 7 Letter Carriers' Food Drive Page 8 (Continued on page 2) The General Assembly will return November 14-16 and 28-30, 2006. Progressive mine safety and mine rescue legislation passed the General Assembly overwhelmingly this session, putting Illinois at the forefront in preventative and responsive mine safety precautions. Senate Bill 929, proposed by Governor Blagojevich after the tragic mining accidents in West Virginia, requires Illinois mines to install wireless communication systems capable of receiving emergency signals from the surface to any location in the mine and for self- contained selfrescuer oxygen devices to be placed throughout the mine for use during extended emergency rescues. "Thankfully, Illinois' mines have been fatality free for three years and these new, stricter safety measures will do even more to keep our miners safe on the job," said Governor Blagojevich. The new law requires lifelines along escape routes that are tagged with directional arrows to the surface. It would also require V E TO S E S S I O N MINE SAFETY Margaret Blackshere, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO speaks at the Haymarket May Day Rally in Chicago. (Story on page 4.) LEGISLATION PASSES (Continued on page 2) LaborLetter 2 Spring 2006 Legislative (Continued from page 1) The bill was designed to stop contractors from classifying employees as independent contractors when they are clearly in their employ. Classifying employees as independent contractors frees the employer from paying Unemployment Insurance, Workers’ Comp Insurance, Social Security, and state and federal taxes. The bill would have protected workers and honest contractors, as well as state and local taxing bodies. The Illinois AFL-CIO will publish a complete list of workerfriendly legislation passed during this session. Gov. Blagojevich visits Dunn Company in Decatur to talk about his Capital Budget with employees and community leaders. Dunn Company is a family-owned, union asphalt/paving company. Mine Safety (Continued from page 1) Over 50 percent of all electricity used in the United States comes from coal and Illinois has an abundant supply. "At our current production level, we have enough coal in miners to use taglines in the event of an emergency - the lines are used to connect miners together as they make their way through the Illinois to meet the energy needs of the entire nation for the next mine. And the law mandates the construction of a rescue chamber in 200 years," said Angleton. "There is no doubt that the Illinois coal industry is on the all underground mines to protect miners from hazards. It would be rebound," said Gary Butler, International Representative for the equipped with first aid materials, an oxygen generating device and UMWA and Illinois AFL-CIO Vice President. "Just look at the other critical provisions. The law would prohibit methane Prairie State Power facility being built near Marissa and the new extraction from sealed areas of active mines, as well as from Taylorville Energy Center. Both facilities are designed to run on abandoned mines that are attached to working mines. This Illinois coal. With these new operations it's critical that this state precaution helps prevent explosions. There are also several state have and enforce strict mine safety laws and that they are followed safety certification improvements included in the new law. by all who work around the mines and all who go down into the "This is another step to ensure that Illinois continues to be a mines every day. We want our miners to go home at night in one leader in mine safety," said Joe Angleton, director of the Illinois piece and for their families to know they are being well protected Office of Mines and Minerals and former district director of the United Mine Workers (UMWA). "I commend Governor Blagojevich on the job. Put yourself in their place and you'll understand how important preventative and rescue mine safety is." for his continued leadership on this issue and his commitment to The Governor is expected to sign the bill this summer. helping the local coal industry make a triumphant return in Illinois." Sponsors of the bill are Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Sparta) and Sen. Three new mines are expected to open in Illinois in 2006. Gary Forby (D-Benton) who worked closely with the state's Office Evidence that the coal industry is making a comeback in our state. of Mines and Minerals and the United Mine Workers to write the Advances in clean-coal technology have made it possible to burn legislation. Illinois coal and still meet the strictest air-quality standards. On May 4th, the United Mine Workers (UMWA) won a commitment from Peabody Energy, the largest coal mining company in the world, to add workers' rights guarantees based on International Labor Organization standards to its Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. The commitment came in response to a UMWA request. The company's commitments, which were announced by the UMWA in St. Louis, where Peabody has its corporate headquarters, include: • Workers have the right to freely choose whether or not to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively. Employment shall be freely chosen. There shall be no use of forced labor including bonded or voluntary prison labor. Peabody and its subsidiaries are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace and shall constantly strive to eliminate or minimize accidents in the workplace, wherever they do business. • Film Production Incentives Expanded More Jobs for Film Industry Workers in Illinois AFTRA, SAG and the Illinois Production Alliance (IPA) are cheering the passage of visual media incentive legislation that will position Illinois as one of the top production centers in the U.S. On May 4, in continued support of the visual media industry, the Illinois General Assembly overwhelmingly approved Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed 20 percent credit on total Illinois production spending. The new offering ranks Illinois among the best visual media incentives in the world. The IPA, the state's visual media coalition, worked with the governor and legislators to develop and gain support for this landmark legislation. AFTRA and SAG members, along with the IPA waged an email, fax and phone campaign to legislators that helped gather the needed support in the final days before passage. “Illinois is back as a top location for film, TV and commercial production,” said IPA President Eileen Willenborg, who is also Executive Director of AFTRA/SAG Chicago. “Along with our talented workforce and deep infrastructure, this incentive package empowers Illinois with a clear competitive edge compared to other states and even major global locations such as Canada. We're taking a moment to celebrate, then we're going back to work to bring jobs and revenues back home.” Retroactive to May 1, 2006, the new legislation nearly doubles the state's previous incentive, a wage-based credit. Illinois production spending is defined in the bill as all salary and expense costs associated with production activities taking place within the state. Illinois' new incentive would also continue encouraging hiring within economically disadvantaged areas by providing an additional 15 percent credit on the wages of individuals who reside in such areas. To qualify, minimum Illinois film and television production spending would have to be greater than $100,000 and minimum commercial production spending would have to be greater than $50,000. Expenses tied to activities taking place outside Illinois, or related to travel into or out of the state, such as airline tickets, would not be covered. The salary cap on wages eligible for the credit will be raised to $100,000 per employee per production. Driven by the IPA and the governor's support, Illinois' first visual media incentive, the wage-based credit approved in 2003, quickly resurrected the state's competitive standing. In 2004, productions, including major Hollywood movies like Batman Begins and Oceans Twelve, generated an estimated $77 million and led to almost 15,000 jobs. Last year, production revenue increased to an estimated $94 million, which led to approximately 15,000 jobs with various film and television projects, including the feature The Break-Up and the hit Fox television series Prison Break. “This incentive is designed to make Illinois more attractive for large productions such as major movies as well as smaller projects like independent films,” said Willenborg. “The IPA's board and membership, including union leaders, local business owners, actors, crew members, casting directors, independent filmmakers and educators, worked together diligently to make this happen.” “The IPA is going to assertively promote Illinois and our new incentive to Hollywood and Madison Avenue decision makers. In the coming months, we will continue to strengthen our state's industry with pursuit of an investor tax credit for homegrown films, an infrastructure tax credit to support local vendors and strategies to advance our state's presence in other visual media sectors like video gaming,” said Willenborg. FROM THE ACTIVATOR - MAY 10, 2006 • In January, Peabody Energy tried to stop the UMWA shareholder resolution on workers' rights, but the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled they could not exclude the proposal from their proxy statement. In Illinois, the UMWA, the Illinois AFL-CIO and representatives from Gov. Blagojevich's office including Chief of Staff for Labor Esther Lopez have been meeting with Peabody seeking neutrality for workers at the Prairie State Energy facility being developed near Marissa. The plant - to be the largest coal-to-natural gas plant in the U.S. - will be built with union labor, but the UMWA and the AFL-CIO want to insure that the 450 permanent employees at the mine can join a union if they choose. LaborLetter 3 Spring 2006 VOTE 2006 P R I M A R Y E L E C T I O N R E S U LT S A True Friend of Labor to Leave Congress Lane Evans Announces His Retirement Longtime advocate and great friend of union members Congressman Lane Evans announced in late March that he would not seek another term in the U.S. House. Evans, 54, cited his long battle with Parkinson's disease as the reason for not seeking a 13th term in Congress. "I couldn't begin to express the gratitude organized labor feels for the public service Lane Evans has given the people of Illinois," said Illinois AFL-CIO President Margaret Blackshere. "He was a leading voice for working families and their unions when there weren't a lot of voices to be heard in the 1980's. He never hesitated to take a stand for social justice and damn the political consequences. He is a patriot and statesman in the truest sense of those terms." Evans, who represents the 17th District, earned a 98 percent lifetime voting record with the Illinois AFL-CIO and was at the forefront of each battle to protect or advance the rights of the working class. In 2005 he garnered a 100% record - voting against CAFTA and cuts to OSHA and job training programs. And he opposed the federal bankruptcy law that makes it more difficult for individuals to file for personal bankruptcy protections. "We will miss him tremendously in Washington and out in the district. We wish him good health and all the best," Blackshere said. Elected Democratic precinct committee persons from the 17th District will vote on a candidate to replace Congressman Evans. Blagojevich Wins Easily; Duckworth Wins 6th Congressional Race Gov. Rod Blagojevich won the Democratic nomination for Governor with 70% of the vote over Edwin Eisendrath. Blagojevich, endorsed by the Illinois AFL-CIO in January, won overwhelmingly needing little campaign effort, as Tammy Duckworth talks with union he won 95 counties, losing members at her campaign office in seven by a total of 1,439 Lombard. Hundreds of union votes or less than one members walked precincts for Duckworth on several Saturdays percent of the Democratic prior to the Primary Election. Primary vote. Duckworth was endorsed by the In another optimistic Illinois AFL-CIO in the 6th development for Illinois, Congressional District. nearly 154,000 more people voted in the Democratic Primary for Governor in what amounted to practically a non-contest than did in a heated Republican contest featuring five candidates. State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka won the Republican nomination with 38 percent. "Gov. Blagojevich has been a leader on the issues concerning working families and what they deal with everyday - education, health care and wages," said Illinois AFL-CIO President Margaret Blackshere. "Organized labor and working families up and down the state will rally behind this governor. The choice will become even more clear once Topinka’s positions and voting record are illuminated." In other statewide primary races, Alexander Giannoulias defeated Labor-endorsed Paul Mangieri for the Democratic nomination for Treasurer and right-wing DuPage State's Attorney Joe Birkett won the Republican Lt. Governor's race. U.S. Congress All endorsed candidates, including the incumbents, won their primary races. In the battle for the open Sixth Congressional seat vacated by Henry Hyde, Tammy Duckworth edged Christine Cegelis by four percent in the Democratic race. Duckworth, Labor's endorsed candidate, faces State Sen. Peter Roskam in a nationally-monitored battle this November. In the 10th District (Mark Kirk), endorsed candidate Dan Seals knocked off Zane Smith by 40 percent. "It is crucial that union members vote in this off-presidential election," Blackshere said. "Fewer people will vote on the whole, so our votes will count that much more. We have to change the direction of the federal government and people like Tammy Duckworth and Dan Seals can help make that happen." In post primary news, longtime Democratic Congressman Lane Evans (D-Moline) announced he will not run again for the 17th District seat (see story, this page). State Legislature Nearly all incumbents won their primaries with the exception of Rep. Calvin Giles (D-Chicago) and Rep. Roger Jenisch (R-Glendale Heights). In open state senate seats, Labor-backed candidates Dan Kotowski (33rd) in North Cook and Dave Koehler (46th), centered in Peoria, each won easily to set up targeted November races. "We are well prepared to defend our friends and elect new allies to the General Assembly," Blackshere added. Judicial In the state's appellate court races, endorsed candidates Michael Murphy (1st) and Bruce Stewart (5th) won Democrat primaries. In the 1st Appellate endorsed candidate Joy Cunningham was declared the winner, however Vicki Wright defeated endorsed candidate Lance Peterson in the 3rd Appellate. Governor's race highlights November election Illinois will be at the forefront of the national political scene this fall with up to four congressional battles and a battle to keep state government in pro-worker hands starting at the top with the governor's race. "Governor Blagojevich has led major reforms here in Illinois," said Illinois AFL-CIO President Margaret Blackshere. "He has made enemies from those that profit from the status quo. As workers, we'll have to fight to keep the wheels of progress moving." Blagojevich, who has signed numerous pro-worker bills into law, leads the ballot in the November 7 General Election. He faces state treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, who earned a 21 percent labor voting record during her 10-year tenure in the General Assembly. "Our plan for victory is comprehensive," said Blackshere. "We will reach out to union households and let them know where the candidates stand on labor's issues. Union members and their families will make their own choices, but we'll help by doing the research." The Illinois AFL-CIO will unveil an election information website following the endorsement session in early June. The site is called unionvoter.com. All the statewide constitutional offices are up for election this year including: Secretary of State Jesse White (D) facing Dan Rutherford (R); Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) against Stu Umholz (R); Comptroller Dan Hynes (D) against Carole Pankau (R); and for the open treasurer's seat, Alexi Giannoulias (D) facing Christine Radogno (R). Also at stake are all the congressional House seats - highlighted by what will likely be close races in the Sixth District and 17th District. Tammy Duckworth (D) faces Peter Roskam (R) in the sixth, while the 17th is currently open following the withdrawal of Lane Evans from the race due to health reasons. "The Bush Administration and Congress have been sworn enemies of the working class in this country," Blackshere said. "If we can switch a couple of seats over and hold on in a couple of places, we'll do our part to boot the conservatives out of leadership and render Bush powerless to do any more damage." The state General Assembly has several districts where labor will be able to make a difference, as well. "We just can't fall asleep," Blackshere said. "There's no presidential race so our votes potentially can count double if we show up." Illinois AFL-CIO to Hold Endorsement Session 2006 General Election - Tuesday, Nov. 7 Early voting - Monday, Oct. 16 - Thursday, Nov. 2 The Illinois AFL-CIO's General Election endorsement session will be June 6th in Springfield. Delegates representing affiliated labor unions, Central Labor Councils, Building Trades Councils, state organizations and Political Education Committees (COPE) will cast votes for state-wide candidates, state legislative candidates, Congressional candidates and state judicial races. The Illinois AFL-CIO supports endorsed candidates through member mailings, work-site literature drops, precinct walks, telecommunications and a concentrated get out the vote effort. Fire Fighters First to Endorse Governor Gov. Blagojevich accepts the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (AFFI) endorsement in Springfield on April 11th. The AFFI was the first International Union to endorse the governor for reelection. Pictured (l to r) are: Gov. Blagojevich; Rick Merrill, AFFI president; and Richard Martin and Pat Devaney, AFFI legislative representatives. LaborLetter 4 Spring 2006 MAY DAY 2006 Workers' Memorial Day The fight to protect workers starts at the ballot box Linda Chavez-Thomspon, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO and Margaret Blackshere speak at Haymarket. Labor celebrated May Day (May 1st) with a rally at the Haymarket Square Memorial in downtown Chicago. Hundreds gathered to pay tribute to America's Labor heritage and the historic struggles of working men and women. May Day has been designated as International Workers' Day or Labor Day around the world. It is the official remembrance day of the Haymarket Riots in Chicago of the late 1800's and the birth of the 8-hour work day. Speakers at the ceremony included Linda Chavez-Thompson, AFL-CIO executive vice president; Margaret Blackshere, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO; and Dennis Gannon, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. Linda Chavez-Thompson, AFL-CIO executive vice president spoke first at the Chicago Immigrant Rights rally and later in the afternoon at the Haymarket May Day rally. "We're here today to remember the workers who were wrongly convicted in the Chicago Haymarket trial," said Chavez-Thompson. "That was 120 years ago. But the truth is their story isn't over. For the last 120 years, everywhere and every time men and women are denied a decent standard of living, denied their rights, denied their freedoms, denied their dignity…and everywhere that workers decide they've had enough and stand up, fight back and struggle….there you'll still find the Haymarket martyrs. …when our children can grow up with the safety, respect and opportunity that every child deserves…that's the day the Haymarket martyrs will win their final victory. That's the day justice will come to our land." 1) Michael T. Carrigan, secretary-treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO speaks at the Workers’ Memorial service in Decatur, where two union members were killed in 2005. 2) Union members walk to the Workers’ Memorial at Gordon Moore Park in Alton during the Candle Light Ceremony honoring the miners who were killed earlier this year in West Virginia. 3) Margaret Blackshere speaks with union members in Alton prior to the Candle Light Walk. 4) Union members lay flowers at the Workers’ Memorial in Peoria. Photos courtesy of: Chris Stevens, The Labor Paper, Mary Ann Tierney, United Way Southwest Illinois Division Immigrant Rights March and Rally An Estimated 400,000 March in Chicago for Immigrant Rights One of the largest marches ever held in Chicago also took place on May 1st. An estimated 400,000 immigrant rights supporters marched through the city to Grant Park in a show of unprecedented strength. A reported one million immigrants and supporters participated in marches nationwide designed to draw attention to the controversial ongoing debate in Washington over immigration laws. The largest rallies by far were in Chicago and Los Angeles. In December, a bill sponsored by Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) passed the U.S. House calling for tighter boarder controls, making illegal immigration a felony and stiffer penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants. The legislation sparked the nationwide rallies. The Chicago march began from the north side of the city at Milwaukee and Ashland Streets and from the south side at Wood and Blue Island. Marchers made their way to merge in Union Park at Ashland and Lake then on east through the city to Grant Park along Lake Shore Drive where speakers included Labor leaders Linda Chavez-Thompson, AFL-CIO; Tom Balanoff, president SEIU Illinois Council and Local 1; Ron Powell, president Local 881 UFCW; and Dennis Gannon, CFL. Supporters are calling for a broad legalization plan, improved labor protections for immigrant workers and a smoother system for legal immigrants to bring relatives to the U.S. Illinois U.S. Representatives Luis Gutierrez, Rahm Emanuel and Jan Schakowsky spoke to the crowd at Union Park as did Sen. Barack Obama. “It’s important to recognize that there is fear out there,” said Obama. “There are those who want to turn back the clock. We have to reach out to those folks and explain to them that our future will be better together than divided.” Marchers represented a wide range of ethnic backgrounds including Mexican-Americans, and immigrants from Poland, Korea, China, Africa and the Middle East. Organized Labor had a strong presence at the rally. On April 28th, union members all across the country paid tribute to those workers killed on the job and those who suffer from work-related injuries and disease. Labor leaders in Illinois called for a renewed effort to protect all workers through tougher state and federal legislation. In Illinois, great strides have been made over the past four years to protect working men and women. Our pro-Labor legislators and Governor pushed through several important worker safety bills in 2005 and 2006 including health care workplace violence prevention, increased penalties for assault to utility workers and state employees, restricting required overtime for nurses, mine safety improvements (see article on page 1), more protections for highway construction workers and Workers’ Compensation updates that favor workers. But at the federal level the Bush administration has blocked and weakened worker protections as well as workers’ rights. Since 2001, the administration has blocked or withdrawn dozens of important safety rules, including a number of measures that may have prevented the recent coal mine tragedies. Corporate interests have won the battle to impose voluntary compliance over enforcement of existing laws or enactment of new protective standards. And industry officials have been put in charge of government safety programs. In Congress, Republican leaders have ignored calls to strengthen the mine safety laws, and instead are pushing legislation that would gut OSHA. As Bill Houlihan, downstate director for Sen. Dick Durbin said at the Workers’ Memorial ceremony in Decatur, “The way to protect workers is at the ballot box.” “This is a critical election in November. We must elect representatives who care about workers’ right and safety above corporate profits and donations. I urge you to get out and work for candidates who have proven their commitment to working families.” Over 100 years ago Mother Jones said... “mourn for the dead, fight for the living.” The fight to protect workers goes on today in this state, in this country and around the world. LaborLetter 5 Spring 2006 ordinary chicagoans, EXTRAORDINARY COURAGE. 2006 Adult Good Samaritan Heroes The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago honored four union members and 10 other heroes at the Fourth Annual Heroes Breakfast on April 27th at the Hyatt Regency Chicago for acts of courage and unselfish reaction in a crisis. heroes breakfast FIRE FIGHTERS HONORED Hundreds of fire fighters from all over the state came to the Capitol on May 11th to remember those who lost their lives protecting others and to honor 28 fire fighters for extraordinary acts of courage on the job. "Every day, thousands of fire fighters selflessly put their lives on the line to protect families in their communities," said Gov. Blagojevich at the ceremony. "Today we honor 28 fire fighters for their acts of bravery. But we're also remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of duty. I would like to thank all the men and women who face these dangers almost every day." The late Patrick Cramer, a fire fighter with the Chicago Fire Department, and Capt. Dan Rebbe, from the Springfield Fire Department were honored with the Duty Death Gold Badge award. The award is presented to the families or fire fighters deceased in, or as a result of, the performance of duty. State Fire Marshal David Foreman presented the Medal of Honor awards - the highest award given to fire fighters by the state of Illinois - to six fire fighters who were selected for their acts of outstanding bravery above and beyond the call of duty. They include: Lieutenant Jeffery Kraft, Calumet Park; Captain Joseph Casale, Melrose Park; Fire Fighter Phillip Marx, Chicago; Captain Frank Cambria, Chicago; Fire Fighter/Paramedic Josh Hill, Hazel Crest; and Lieutenant/Paramedic Johnny Jones, Hazel Crest. Medal of Valor awards were presented to: Fire Fighter/Paramedic James Scharnhorst, Oak Forest; Engineer Thomas Stotts, Oak Forest; Lieutenant Leonard Bonnevier, Oak Forest; Fire Fighter/Paramedic Frank Ritter, Bolingbrook; Lieutenant Richard Kostelz, Bolingbrook; Captain Robert Rojas, Chicago; Fire Fighter/Paramedic Jeffrey Purtell, Bolingbrook; Lieutenant Richard Gustafson, Chicago; Paramedic in Charge Roberta Shanahan, Chicago; and Paramedic Jorge Lara, Chicago. Certificates of Recognition were awarded to: Fire Fighter/First Responder Bradley Miller, Barry; Volunteer Fire Fighter Michael Bellovich, New Canton; Engineer Kevin Lueder, Chicago Heights; Fire Fighter/Paramedic Michael Campnell, Oak Forest; Fire Fighter/Paramedic John Janozik, Oak Forest; Fire Fighter/Paramedic William Stearns Jr., Oak Forest; Fire Fighter/Paramedic Kevin O'Leary, Bridgeview; Fire Fighter Kevin Herrick, Bensenville; Lieutenant James Escue, Marion; Fire Fighter Steve Plumer, Marion; Engineer Christopher Sarcletti, Bolingbrook; and Fire Fighter/Paramedic Eric Biskup, Bensenville. Chuck Casselo Ironworkers Local 1 Mercedes Cruz ATU Local 308 Dan Polk Ironworkers Local 1 Ironworkers Local 1 members Chuck Casselo, Jr. and Dan Polk, and ATU Local 308 member Mercedes Cruz, will receive the Good Samaritan award for saving a fellow employee after the employee made contact with the live third rail on CTA El tracks. Just after morning rush hour on July 7, 2005, maintenance work was being performed at the Damen Station on the Brown Line when a flagwoman fell and hit her head on the live third rail. She remained in contact with the third rail until Mercedez Cruz alerted Chuck Casselo, Jr. and Dan Polk about the incident and all three immediately ran to the injured flagwoman. While a foreman called the CTA Control Center to have power removed from the track, the three worked quickly as they used a wooden flagstick to lift her from the still energized rail. Chicago Fire Department and ambulance crews arrived within minutes to take control of the scene. Mercedes, Chuck and Dan remained calm and responded swiftly and safely. They demonstrated true compassion and commitment to their coworker, and were integral in saving her life. 2006 Firefighter Hero Richard Gustafson of Chicago will receive the Firefighter Award for his rescue of two firefighters from a burning building. In the late afternoon of May 5, 2005, a fire started on the back porches of a 3-story building on the 3200 block of South Lithuania. The fire quickly spread to the third floor apartment, and firefighters from Engine 29 initiated an attack at the top of the front stairs, attempting to gain entry to the fire floor. Local 881 UFCW Awards Academic Scholarships Four students were awarded 2006 academic scholarships by Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union at an awards ceremony and luncheon in April. Applicants were chosen based on academic excellence, extracurricular activities, community service and demonstrated knowledge of a labor-related topic. Selected to receive scholarship awards were an overall winner and recipients from Pictured (l to r) Ron Powell, three regions of Illinois. They are: Daniel president, Local 881 UFCW; Yadron of Grayslake – the $4,000 Overall Daniel Yadron, Overall Excellence Scholarship winner; Excellence winner; Megan Bartoszewski of Hoffman Estates – a $1,000 (Northern Illinois) and Steve Powell, secretarywinner; Kaitlin Ward of White Hall – a $1,000 treasurer, Local 881 UFCW. (Central Illinois) winner; and Melissa Kreitner of Swansea – a $1,000 (Southern Illinois) winner. The award winners, who are Local 881 members or children of members, submitted scholarship applications along with academic transcripts, records of extracurricular school activities and community involvement and an essay on the topic, “What does your Union do for you and your family in terms of pay, benefits, job security and legislative action?” A panel of four judges from government, community and education organizations selected the winners. The judges were: Jane Kiser, assistant professor, Division of Labor Studies, Indiana University Northwest; Esther Lopez, deputy Chief of Staff for Labor and Professional Regulation, Office of Governor Blagojevich; William McNary, co-director, Citizen Action Illinois; ;and Ken Snyder, director, Grassroots Collaborative. Richard Gustafson Chicago, IL Lieutenant Richard Gustafson of Truck 8 entered the hot, smoke-filled building. He was assigned to help ventilate the building and perform forced entry and search of the building. He was just behind officers from Engine 29 when the fire overwhelmed two firefighters at the top of the stairs. The fire quickly advanced past and over Richard to the second floor landing. The entire stairwell became charged with smoke, fire and heat. Richard started down the stairs and came across the fallen firefighters. Richard, now the only conscious firefighter, managed to separate the victims by clearing away entangled equipment. He then handed over the first injured firefighter to his fellow responding company members, who carried one of the fallen to safety. Richard then dragged the second firefighter out by himself. The two rescued firefighters were unconscious when they were carried from the building. One was barely responsive and the other required immediate rescue breathing, which paramedics quickly performed. If there had been any delay in finding the injured firefighters, they would not be alive today. Congratulations to these brave men and women of Labor. LaborLetter 6 Spring 2006 Labor & 1) Jerry Rankins, business representative; Ron Kastner, president; and Larry Moeller, COPE director, IBEW Local 21 2) Michael Carrigan and Jason Keller (back to camera) Ill Musicians Local 10208 4) Dennis McCartney, Glenn Vana, Bob Miller, president, Chicago Allied Printing Trades Council, and Don Cipicchio, all members of Local 458Ms Execu Terranova, Sheet Metal Workers 7) Karen Williams, IFT legislative director; Deneen Pajeau and Nancy Heskin, Southwest Suburban Federation of Teachers, Local 943 (both m Ruben Diaz DeLeon, Illinois AFL-CIO; and Orlando Velez, Chicago Federation of Labor. 10) Dorothy Brown, Cook County Circuit Clerk talks with guests 11) Tom Villanova, Pre Murphy, Chicago Federation of Musicians 13) Augustine Johnson, Chicago Teachers Union staff; Veronica Aguirre, IFPE vice president; Ava Harston, IFT Field Service Directo LaborLetter 7 Spring 2006 Po l i t i c s llinois AFL-CIO talk with Art Ludwig, director of the Illinois Department of Labor. 3) Gary Matts, president and Terry Jares, vice president of the Chicago Federation of utive Board. 5) Michael Melone, John Falzone, and Tom Clair, all IBT, with Rep. John D'Amico (D-Chicago). 6) Jim Allen, president, Bricklayers Local 21 and Rocko members of IFT Executive Board) 8) Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) talks with guests. 9) Ismael Perez, Illinois AFL-CIO; Ramon Becerra, Chicago Federation of Labor; resident Chicago Building Trades Council and Esther Lopez, Deputy Chief of Staff for Labor & Professional Regulation, Office of the Governor 12) Ken Haebich and Leo or; and Karen Williams, IFT legislative director. LaborLetter 8 Spring 2006 S TATE N EWS Labor Reception for Secretary of State White The Illinois AFL-CIO held a reception for Secretary of State Jesse White on March 6th. Secretary White is a strong supporter of Labor and a card-carrying member of the Chicago Teachers Union. He had a 33-year career as a teacher and administrator with the Chicago public schools before running for public office. Prior to running for Secretary of State, White served as Cook County Recorder and in the Illinois General Assembly for 16 years. White is running for his third term as Secretary of State in this November's election. Foreman Appointed State Fire Marshall David Foreman, former president of the Association of Fire Fighters of Illinois, has been named State Fire Marshall by Gov Blagojevich. Foreman took over as the head of the state's fire safety office (OSFM) in March. The agency provides arson investigation, public fire prevention safety programs, collection and analysis of fire reports, and on-going training and education for Illinois firefighters. There are three OSFM offices in the state including Chicago, Springfield and Marion. Foreman served as president of the 10,000 member Fire Fighters' union for the past 18 years. He was a firefighter in Lockport and Joliet. He retired from the Joliet Fire Department as a Captain in 2002 after 30 years of service. Foreman was a member of the Illinois AFL-CIO Executive Board for 13 years. Chicago and Aurora students win Labor History Awards during annual Illinois History Expo Students from Chicago and Aurora won awards from the Illinois Labor History Society during the annual Illinois History Expo held May 3 in Springfield. "These awards are presented for the best performances concerning labor history in Illinois," said Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) Director Robert Coomer. The Agency sponsors the Expo in cooperation with the Chicago Metro History Education Center. The Junior winners were Christopher Weiss and Rebecca Weiss for their documentary, "I.W.W.: Standing up for 100 Years." The students attend the Arts and Science Academy in Chicago. They were awarded a $100 prize. The Senior winners, who also received $100, were Aracelli Gonzales, Aracely Gutierrez, Eliseo Martinez, Sarah Peara, and Felipe Rodriguez of East Aurora High School for their performance, "Refugio Martinez: Taking a Stand in the Packinghouse Industry." The Illinois Labor History Society exists to keep people aware of the vital role labor unions have played in Illinois history. More than 1,400 junior and senior high school students from across the state participated in the May 3 Expo. The students were winners selected during regional history fairs held earlier this year. The regional fairs and the Illinois History Expo are coordinated by the IHPA's Education Services Program, which also publishes the on-line student history magazine Illinois History, and Illinois History Teacher, which contains teaching materials. For more information on the program, visit www.Illinois-History.gov. Mother Jones Festival June 23-25 The second annual Mother Jones Festival in Mt. Olive will be held the weekend of Friday, June 23 – Sunday, June 25th. According to Tom Spears, Illinois AFL-CIO MAP coordinator and mayor of Mt. Olive, last year’s event was a huge success. “We hope to build on that success to make this year’s festival more fun and at the same time more educational,” said Spears. The festival is dedicated to the legendary union activist Mary Harris “Mother” Jones who is buried in Mt. Olive along side “her boys” at the Miners’ Cemetery. Daily events include arts and upscale crafters, antiques. carnival rides and plenty of food and beverages. Special events include: FRIDAY, JUNE 23 • • Live Music featuring The Bob Kuban Band (“Look Out For The Cheater”) Mother Jones Banquet Dinner - Elks Club, Carlinville featuring Labor speakers and music 5K Race, 1 Mile Fun Run and Walk (starts and finishes at the Mother Jones Monument) Mt. Olive Homecoming Parade Live music featuring The Hitmen Antique Tractor Show, Boat Show Mother Jones Gravesite Memorial Service Ethnic Day – featuring ethnic food in Niemann Park Car and Motorcycle Show Live music featuring Neighbor’s Nightmare For more information on the festival call 217-246-7441 or visit www.motherjonesfestival.us. SATURDAY, JUNE 24 Southern Illinois Women of Steel Help Raise Funds to Stop Violence Against Women The Southern Illinois Women's Council of United Steelworkers District 7 (a.k.a. Women of Steel) from the Granite City/Madison area recently helped raise over $11,000 for the Phoenix Crisis Center - a local shelter and safe house for victims of domestic violence and abuse. In honor of V Day-Until the Violence Stops, the union members participated in a benefit performance of Eve Ensler's play, The Vagina Monologues. It was the fourth year the group has participated in the V Day Worldwide Campaign to end violence against women. Norma Gaines, organizer, director and performer at this year's event, credits the many union sisters and friends who volunteer their time and dollars each year to make the event a success. Over the years, the cast and crew has consisted of union steelworkers, labor liaisons, electricians, police officers, mechanics, lawyers, teachers, students, and the president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. • • • • • • • • SUNDAY, JUNE 25 Solidarity Charters Overwhelming Success in Illinois The Solidarity Charter Program initiated by the National AFL-CIO to allow disaffiliated unions to participate in their State AFL-CIO and local Central Labor Councils has been very successful in Illinois. "We are very pleased that all but a few of the Change to Win affiliates have signed Solidarity Charters to participate in the Illinois AFL-CIO," said Margaret Blackshere. "We have built a strong, unified Labor movement in Illinois and we want to move forward for the betterment of our members. The Solidarity Charters allow us to work together on legislative issues and political campaigns and to have the financial resources to serve our members well." LaborLetter 9 Spring 2006 Labor Agreement Signed for Taylorville Energy Center FAIR TRADE NOT FREE TRADE Illinois Labor Leaders Attack Current Federal Trade Policies Protecting Jobs and Fair Wages Paramount in Upcoming Election Margaret Blackshere, president of the Illinois AFLCIO was in Rock Island on April 25th to join Quad Cities' Labor leaders in condemning federal trade policies and the catastrophic loss of manufacturing jobs in this state over the past five years. The Quad Cities are at the heart of the 17th Speakers at the Rock Island press event included Congressional District, a (l to r) Jacob Gorman, Local United Auto Workers district that has been well(UAW) CAP Chairman; Rory Washburn, Tri-City Building represented by Congressman Trades Council; Jerry Messer, president Quad-Cities Lane Evans for many years. Federation of Labor; Margaret Blackshere, president of But Evans has recently the Illinois AFL-CIO; Dave Bavard, member of the announced he will not seek Machinists Union and former employee of the Maytag reelection this fall. Labor has plant in Galesburg; and Chuck Anderson, UAW and Illinois AFL-CIO Executive Board member. vowed to support his replacement on the Democratic ticket over Republican candidate Andrea Zinga, who favors the Bush administration's Federal trade policies. "We have to stop the bleeding of American jobs or the middle class in this country will be lost," said Margaret Blackshere, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. "To do that we must hold our federal elected officials accountable to make changes to our current trade policies. Many communities in Illinois have become ghost towns due to our federal open-door trade policies. Illinois and the families of the 17th District have been especially hard hit. The upcoming elections are critical to affecting change in Congress. Andrea Zinga's position on trade is out of touch with the District. We must elect a pro-worker Congressman from this district who will continue the fight for workers that our friend Lane Evans has waged in Washington since he was first elected." Pictured (l to r) are Michael T. Carrigan, secretarytreasurer IL AFL-CIO; Brad Schaive, business manager Laborers Local 477; Mike McInnis, the ERORA Group; Sen. Deanna Demuzio; Jim Flemming, business manager Plumbers Local 137 and president of the Central Illinois Building Trades Council; and David Schwartz, the ERORA Group. A Project Labor Agreement for work on the soon to be constructed Taylorville Energy Center (TEC) was recently signed between the Christian County Generation, LLC and area Building Trades Unions. On Thursday, April 20th Labor leaders and project managers met at the Illinois AFL-CIO in Springfield to sign the documents. The planned Taylorville Energy Center is a $1.1 billion coal gasification plant being built in Christian County northeast of Taylorville. The Center will use a projected 1.8 million tons of Illinois coal annually and create an estimated 1,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs for the area. The new Center will include a coal-fueled Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) project and a Substitute Natural Gas (SNG) co-production facility that is designed to simultaneously produce electricity and SNG. The Taylorville Energy Center will be among the first IGCC plants built in the US. IGCC is a "cleaner coal" technology that will help meet pressing environmental challenges. Construction on the project is set to begin in 2007. The facility is expected to begin commercial operation in 2010. Area unions involved in the TEC Project Labor Agreement are the Asbestos Workers Local 1, Boilermakers Local 363, Bricklayers Local 8, Cement Masons Local 18, Cement Plasterers Local 8, Electrical Workers Local 146, Glaziers Local 1168, Iron Workers Local 46, Laborers Local 477, Operating Engineers Local 965, Painters Local 90, Plumbers Local 137, Roofers Local 112, Sheet Metal Workers Local 218, Teamsters Local 279 and the Mid-Central Illinois Carpenters Union. The ERORA Group, a privately-held company serving the electric power industry, is developing the TEC project. The group's three, hands-on owners have a combined 60 years of experience in developing, building and operating power facilities. The developers will receive state financial support including $2.5 million for front-end engineering and design work from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and another $2.5 million from the public-private Illinois Clean Coal Review Board. State Fed Battles Big Business Over Tort Reform In 2005 the Illinois General Assembly passed medical malpractice reforms that limit damages injured patients can receive because of doctor and hospital neglect and incompetence. The Illinois AFL-CIO argued against the health industries' claims that caps on malpractice awards would lower med-mal insurance rates for doctors. But over loud objections from workers lawmakers passed the reforms and Governor Blagojevich sign the law in August. It limits "pain and suffering" damages that hospitals must pay to victims to $1 million and caps payments to victims by doctors at $500,000. It was a victory for insurance companies and an incalculable defeat for working men and women who seek their day in court to ask a jury of their piers to judge the value of their physical injuries. Fast forward to early 2006 and as expected the same interest groups representing big business proposed further tort reforms. Several bills were introduced that would restrict access to courts and further limit workers' rights in court cases. With the help of several groups, the Illinois AFL-CIO fought back. Margaret Blackshere, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO went on radio in several major markets around the state to tell workers the truth about the consequences of the proposed legislation. "Big business dominates our political process and now they want to control our courts," said Blackshere in the radio ad. "Legislation has been proposed in Springfield that would make it harder for people to hold corporations accountable, even when they knowingly pollute our environment or sell defective, dangerous products. You may have heard the ads, paid for by oil, drug and insurance companies, calling this legislation 'law suit reform.' But it's really a free pass to disregard our health and safety." Fortunately, this round of tort reform bills went nowhere. They were stalled in their respective chambers of origin…a victory for workers injured on the job. And what has happened with medical malpractice insurance rates in Illinois? Have they gone down as predicted by business interest groups? According to ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company, the medical malpractice insurer that persuaded Illinois legislators to cap non-economic damage awards, claims paid in Illinois fell 5.3% last year. Claims have dropped 14.3% since 2003. Consequently, profits for ISMIE have more than doubled and several of their top executives received raises of 33%. Meanwhile, Illinois doctors have not seen a reduction in their medical malpractice premiums, even as ISMIE reaps its profits. Musicians Picket Chicago Show The Chicago Federation of Musicians held a demonstration and called for a boycott of the anti-union producers of a "Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean" at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago on March 28th. They handed out informational leaflets to the media - it was media night at the theatre and patrons attending the show. Their message - "Chicago is a strong union town. Working people deserve a fair wage and to be treated with dignity and respect." LaborLetter 10 Spring 2006 UTU Re-affiliates with AFL-CIO On February 27th, the United Transportation Union (UTU) rejoined the AFL-CIO at the national level, allowing UTU state boards to rejoin AFL-CIO state federations. On March 30th, the Illinois UTU Legislative Board re-affiliated with the Illinois AFLCIO. "We're excited to rejoin the Illinois AFL-CIO," said Joe Szabo, state director of the UTU Illinois Legislative Board. "Our political and legislative goals are parallel and we understand the importance of solidarity for working families. Over the past years, our informal relationship with the State Federation remained strong and friendly. Last year the State Federation was very helpful to us in making our case in the General Assembly for the Railroad Employees Medical Treatment Act. They understood how essential that legislation was for our members, and they put their shoulder to the same wheel we were trying to move. They also helped us work the State House to get funding for four more Amtrak frequencies in the state." "We look forward to working even more closely with the Illinois AFL-CIO now that we're again a formal part of it," added Szabo. "And that includes not only having their assistance with our agenda, but committing UTU's resources to helping our fellow unions achieve their own goals." UTU was founded in 1969 through the merger of four of the nation's oldest labor unions - the Order of Railway Conductors, founded in 1868; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, dating from 1873; the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, dating from 1883; and the Switchmen's Union of North American, founded in 1918. Then in 1985, the Railroad Yardmasters of America, which was established in 1918, voted to affiliate with the UTU. "This is a significant reunion," said Michael Carrigan, secretarytreasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO. "We couldn't be happier to be working again with Joe Szabo and the members of UTU on legislative priorities and political goals. Our labor organization is moving forward and with the help of unions like the UTU we will be more successful." In a letter to UTU state legislative boards and local unions, UTU International President Paul Thompson said, "I am convinced that our members will benefit from the participation of their Locals and Legislative Board within the framework of the AFL-CIO. I also believe that the opportunity for working men and women and their families to communicate, become familiar with other unions and be more actively involved in the labor movement at every level, is essential for the preservation of our American values." Joe Szabo has been asked to serve on the Illinois AFL-CIO Executive Board beginning with the June 6th board meeting in Springfield. NEA, AFL-CIO Approve Partnership In February, the nation's largest teachers' union - the National Education Association (NEA) - and the AFL-CIO announced a limited partnership that will allow local affiliates of the NEA to join state federations and Central Labor Councils and work together on issues important to working families. Nationally, the NEA represents 2.8 million teachers, school administrators, educational support staff and students preparing to become teachers. They have 13,200 affiliates. In Illinois the union reports a membership of 120,000. "We have reached out to Illinois Education Association (IEA) president Ken Swanson to discuss affiliation with the State Federation," said Margaret Blackshere. "And I know of many instances around the state where CLC presidents have done the same. This is an unprecedented opportunity for organized Labor to come together and we will make every attempt to solidify our relationship with the IEA. The more we band together to advance working family issues, the louder our voices and the stronger our message. We have proven we can affect change in state government through solidarity. This partnership with the IEA could add thousands of new voices to our cause." Although the NEA and the AFL-CIO will remain independent organizations, for the first time NEA locals can affiliate with AFL-CIO. Locals must apply through the NEA and be approved by the AFL-CIO. The agreement between the AFL-CIO and the NEA is supported by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and is in effect until 2009. If you would like more information about the NEA/AFL-CIO labor solidarity agreement, contact the Illinois AFL-CIO at 217.544.4014 or the AFL-CIO Unity Partnership Team Leader Mike Cavanaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.637.5370. AFL-CIO Creates Department Dedicated to State and Local Affiliate Needs In recent months there have been major changes within the nation's largest union umbrella organization. Several long-time International members have left the fold, several others have joined and many independent unions are now eligible to affiliate for the first time. To help State Federations and CLCs properly and legally complete the process of affiliating new unions the AFL-CIO has created the Office of State and Local Affiliates. Located within President Sweeney's office, the new department will be headed by Mike Cavanaugh, who previously served the Federation as Director of Field Mobilization and Deputy Director of Politics. Under new agreements, the National Education Association (NEA) will allow its affiliates to join the AFL-CIO at the state and local levels, the United Transportation Union (UTU) will rejoin the AFLCIO and encourage their locals to also reaffiliate, and many independent unions will now be able to sign up for membership. And, many disaffiliated unions are allowing their locals to join the AFL-CIO at the state and regional levels. Each of these affiliation agreements are different and have different expiration dates. In all instances State Federations and CLCs are responsible for getting the charters/agreements signed and approved. To help expedite the process, the new Office of State and Local Affiliates will work closely with state and regional officers to insure forms are properly filled out and that there is a prompt, efficient approval process. Specifically, the new Office will: • • • • Manage the Solidarity Charter process - to reaffiliate local unions of the Change to Win unions Manage the Solidarity Fund - dues paid by reaffiliated local unions of the Change to Win unions Implement the Solidarity '06 state and local affiliation campaign Coordinate the involvement of State Feds and CLCs in the NEA and Direct Local Affiliate (independent unions) affiliation efforts. The AFL-CIO at work for you! AFL-CIO Launches New Blog Check Out AFL-CIO NOW! The National AFL-CIO has launched a new comprehensive news blog offering up-to-date information from around the world about issues facing working families, unions and the AFL-CIO. Visit the new site … AFL-CIO Now: News That Works at www.aflcio.org/blog. AFL-CIO Now provides news on worker organizing and political efforts, health care, the economy, jobs, retirement security, and other issues and is updated several times daily. It is designed to elevate workers' issues and strengthen grassroots action, while providing a new resource to members of the media and influentials in policy and government. It is a news blog not a gossip blog. AFL-CIO Now will also feature guest bloggers who will offer insight on issues and events relevant to working families. The site's first guest commentator is Greg LeRoy, author of "The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate Tax Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation." To send important information to be posted on the Blog email email@example.com. In addition the new office will insure that all state and local affiliates comply with the AFL-CIO Constitution and the Rules Governing State Federations and Central Labor Councils, manage the State Federation and CLC Leadership Institute, coordinate the AFL-CIO Community Services program and maintain the systems that allow timely two-way communication with leaders of State Feds and CLCs. For questions about the new Office of State and Local Affiliates contact Mike Cavanaugh at 202637-5370 or firstname.lastname@example.org. AFL-CIO FACTS & STATS The AFL-CIO has launched a new data resource center on their web site. The Facts & Stats feature provides the most current data available on working family issues. Everything from bankruptcy, education, healthcare, housing, infrastructure, jobs, pensions, poverty, workplace safety, trade stats, unemployment and wages and income. You can view and download the data in chart form by state or for all states with U.S. totals. Go to www.aflcio.org/issues/factsstats/ AFL-CIO Unveils Database of CEO Pay Figures The AFL-CIO recently unveiled a database of the top 25 super-pensions for CEOs. The database will be featured on the 2006 Executive PayWatch website (www.paywatch.org). Additionally, six new case studies on CEO golden pension packages will be revealed, previewing what the public will see if the new SEC rules on executive pay package disclosure are adopted. The new Executive PayWatch website will show how CEOs guaranteed their own golden pensions while undermining the retirement security of America's working families. LaborLetter 11 Spring 2006 NATIONAL NEWS FASTEST GROWING GROUP FOR WORKING AMERICANS OPENS OFFICES AFL-CIO affiliate for workers without a union on the job will push to increase health care coverage and stop irresponsible tax cuts AFL-CIO President John Sweeney Joins New Jersey Nurses To Kick Off a Nationwide Fight to Save Nurses' Rights NJ Nurses Shine a Light on a Bush Labor Board Decision They Fear Could Cost Them Their Rights and Impair Their Ability to Practice Patient Advocacy On Wednesday, May 24, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney joined hundreds of New Jersey nurses in a rally to call national attention to a set of National Labor Relations Board decisions that could strip the right to join and form unions away from nurses and other workers. The rally in Liberty State Park kicked off a national campaign to defend workers' freedom to improve their lives through unions in the face of an anti-worker labor board. President Sweeney's visit marks a series of strike votes in which 7,000 nurses and health care workers in nine New Jersey hospitals represented by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) division of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) voted in overwhelming numbers to strike, if necessary. Continuing negotiations at all nine hospitals are focused on safe staffing ratios and working conditions, retirement security, and the union rights of "charge" nurses. Often dubbed the "Kentucky River" decisions, the three rulings will have national implications for nurses and other workers across the country. Expected within the next couple of months, the decisions will determine how to interpret the term "supervisor." A broad interpretation could allow employers in healthcare, building trades, ports, and industrial workplaces to strip workers of their union protection. Supervisors' rights are not protected under the National Labor Relations Act in the same way "employees" rights are protected. An unfavorable decision could allow employers to opportunistically reclassify workers as "supervisors" in order to avoid recognizing or bargaining with their unions. www.workingamerica.org May 24, 2006 - Saying reforming health care and stopping irresponsible tax cuts are its top priorities, Working America - a new AFL-CIO affiliate for working people who do not yet have a union on the job - announced the opening of offices in Rochester, MN and Allentown, PA. Working America, launched by the AFL-CIO in late 2003, is now the nation's fastest growing organization for working families. The Rochester office is the second to open in Minnesota in three months; the first was the Twin Cities office which opened in February. The Allentown office is the third to open in Pennsylvania in ten months; the first opened in Pittsburg in September and the second opened in Philadelphia in February. "America's working families are caught in a perfect storm of job loss, skyrocketing health care costs and disappearing retirement security and too many are drowning," said Chris Antonneau, Working America Canvass Director for Rochester. "Working America is a much-needed raft which gives them a voice in the issues that matter most to them." Working America enables workers who do not have the benefit of a union on the job to join forces with nine million union members in the AFLCIO to work for good jobs, health care, retirement security and more. In its first two years, over one million members have signed up nationwide. Working America already has: • Generated hundreds of hand written letters to defeat a tipped worker exemption to Oregon's minimum wage sought by business lobbyists; • Helped pass a hospital levy in Hospital District 1 that bolstered Seattle's emergency responders; • Delivered over 60,000 hand-written letters to Senators urging them to oppose privatizing Social Security in 2005. In 2006, Working America will reach out to nearly 250,000 people each month through intensive in-person recruitment campaigns in seven states and through a phone-canvassing program in 30 metropolitan and urban areas around the country. Growth projections put the membership of Working America at two million members by the close of 2006. Bush's Assault on Dept. of Energy Workers' Pensions The Bush Administration has launched an unprecedented back door assault on financially healthy pension plans at the Department of Energy (DOE), exposing its agenda to destroy the defined benefit pension system. Last week the DOE announced that it will no longer reimburse contractors for the costs of traditional, defined benefit pension and medical plans for new employees. In addition, DOE will encourage these federal contractors to switch from defined-benefit plans to 401(k) or other defined contribution plans for current employees. "With retirement security fast becoming a goal that is beyond the reach of most Americans, the federal government should sustain and promote secure, reliable pensions for all workers, and especially those who are employed in the nation's defense, developing, manufacturing, testing and clean-up of nuclear weapons," said John Sweeney, president, AFL-CIO. "It is disgraceful that we are jeopardizing the retirement security of workers to whom we entrust our national security," added Sweeney. "If the Bush Administration is willing to take aim at the pensions of nuclear weapons workers, whose pensions will be next?" Teachers, Construction Workers and Concerned Citizens March for Rebuilding New Orleans with Justice Group Calls for Commission on Workers' Rights to Hold State and Federal Government Accountable New Orleans, May 2, 2006 - Workers, community organizations and members of the Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO marched and rallied at the Hale Boggs Federal Building to highlight the rampant abuses of workers' rights in the post-Katrina rebuilding. Those at the rally called for the creation of a workers' rights commission to set standards for how workers are treated in the rebuilding of New Orleans. "The people who are the heart and soul of New Orleans lost not only our homes and way of life after Katrina and Rita -- we lost our security, our safety and our dignity," said Tiger Hamilton, President of the New Orleans AFL-CIO. "Companies are exploiting us, exposing us to hazards and walking away with their profits, without any repercussions." The rally featured the many voices of those rebuilding of New Orleans-- teachers, community members, immigrants and laborers told their personal stories of loss and exploitation. Rally participants also heard from community leader Charmaine Neville, of the musical dynasty threegenerations deep in New Orleans tradition. All speakers called for a workers' rights commission that would investigate abuses, issue findings and make recommendations for how workers should be treated. The commission would include prominent community members, legislators and members of the clergy. "We need to open public schools in New Orleans and support the teachers who are working here. It is a horrible injustice that thousands of children are not being educated and thousands of teachers can no longer afford to do the work that they love," said Larry Carter, Jr. who represents the interests of both the United Teachers of New Orleans and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. Carter highlighted the plight of teachers who have lost not only their jobs and insurance, but also their collective bargaining. Speakers who shared their stories emphasized that theirs are just some of hundreds of stories of workers toiling in hazardous conditions, immigrants being exploited by employers and construction workers forced to live in inhumane conditions. AFL-CIO Members in St. Louis, Kansas City Kick Off Campaign to Increase Missouri Minimum Wage Missouri Activists Part of National AFL-CIO America Needs a Raise Campaign AFL-CIO union members in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri stood side by side with minimum wage earners, clergy and community leaders on May 23rd and 24th to kick off Missouri's campaign to raise the minimum wage to $6.50 an hour and index it for inflation. Like millions of workers around the country, Missouri's minimum wage earners have been stuck at $5.15 since 1997 because of the refusal of the Republican-led Congress to vote on an increase, despite the rising cost of health care, housing and gas prices and inflation pressures that have brought the real value of the minimum wage to its lowest level since 1955. AFL-CIO activists recently helped bring in 210,000 signatures to support the increase, more than double the 94,000 required to put the issue on the state ballot this November. If efforts to increase the state minimum wage succeed, about 150,000 Missouri workers and their families will directly benefit, and thousands more will be bumped up the pay scale. The kick-off is part of the AFL-CIO and Working Americas larger America Needs a Raise campaign to raise the minimum wage. The campaign includes work in at least 17 states, including work on minimum wage ballot initiatives in four states. AFL-CIO and Change to Win Agree to Coordinate Election Year Efforts AFL-CIO president John Sweeney and Change to Win chair Anna Burger recently announced that they reached a tentative agreement for coordination of member mobilization activity for the 2006 general election. "The entire labor movement is united by the desire to make working people's issues the country's priorities this election year, and we are taking all the necessary steps to effectively coordinate our efforts toward this end," said Sweeney and Burger. The AFL-CIO and Change to Win will create a National Labor Coordinating Committee (NLCC) to be chaired by Gerald McEntee, AFL-CIO political committee chair and president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and vice-chaired by Edgar Romney, secretarytreasurer of Change to Win and executive vice president of UNITE HERE. Political directors and staff from the organizations will work in close collaboration on every aspect of the program, and the organizations will share the costs of joint activities. As part of the agreement, Change to Win will encourage its affiliates to participate in state and local central labor bodies, and AFL-CIO President Sweeney will recommend to the AFL-CIO Executive Council that the United Farm Workers be eligible to participate in state and local bodies. “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” – Mother Jones ILLINOIS STATE FEDERATION OF LABOR AND CONGRESS OF INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS 534 South Second St Springfield, IL 62701-1705 Phone-217/544-4014 • Fax-217/544-0225 55 West Wacker Dr., Ste 716 Chicago, IL 60601-1609 Phone-312/251-1414 • Fax-312/251-1420 www.ilafl-cio.org CALENDAR June 6 General Election COPE Endorsement Session Executive Council Meeting Crowne Plaza Hotel, Springfield Meredosia "Thanks for Your Support" Hog Roast & Picnic Boilermakers Local 484 City Park, Meredosia 12 Noon For information call 217-584-1916 Central Labor Council/Community Services Conference Rend Lake Resort, Whittington For more information call 217-544-4014 Mother Jones Festival - Mt. Olive (See article on page 8.) June 11 June 21-23 Margaret Blackshere, President Michael T. Carrigan, Secretary-Treasurer Beth Spencer, Editor June 23-25 August 11-22 Illinois State Fair, Springfield Labor Pavilion Open daily 10 am - 6 pm Sept. 4 Oct. 3-4 Labor Day - Go to www.ilafl-cio.org for a list of activities around the state. Illinois AFL-CIO Convention Wyndham O'Hare Hotel, Rosemont For more information call 217-544.4014 Letter Carriers' 14th Annual Food Drive The National Association of Letter Carriers held the nation's largest food drive on Saturday, May 13th. The NALC collected non-perishable food donations from households along postal routes in all 50 states in over 10,000 communities. Collected food donations are distributed to local food banks, shelters and pantries. The food drive involved nearly 1,500 local NALC affiliates representing 300,000 union members. Co-sponsors with the NALC were the U.S. Postal Service, Campbell Soup Co., Cox Target Media, local United Ways, the AFL-CIO and America's Harvest (Address Service Requested) Illinois State AFL-CIO 534 South Second, Springfield, IL 62701-1705 Non Profit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID AFL-CIO 1) Union members and community volunteers help Letter Carriers (Local 80) sort and load food in Springfield on May 13th. 2) Neal Tisdale (right), Illinois AFL-CIO Executive Board member and NALC National Business Agent, helps load food in Springfield.