Below are remarks from Flora Johnson, Chair of the Executive Board of SEIU Healthcare at a press conference today with faith leaders from Arise Chicago demanding Governor Bruce Rauner pass a responsible budget that protects Illinois families. Arise presented a letter from dozens of faith leaders from across Illinois who urged Gov. Rauner to fairly treat the tens of thousands of state workers currently without a contract.
Like our brothers and sisters at AFSCME, our 53,000 child care and home healthcare workers have been working without a contract since July 1st. At the bargaining table, the governor is seeking to strip our workforce, already the lowest paid in the state, of wages, training and their health insurance.
Our union is but part of a larger story of injustice and cruelty that is playing out all across Illinois.
The Scripture says that the cries of the Poor reach the heavens. But, as we have seen throughout this nightmare period, they do not reach Bruce Rauner.
Every day, another social service agency closes its doors or turns people away.
Every day, seniors and people with disabilities across the state are living in fear that they may be forced to go without the home healthcare that keeps them in their communities and with some dignity.
Every day, another prevention program or wraparound service is sacrificed in Governor Rauner’s cynical game.
And for what?
None of this is about saving taxpayer dollars. And it certainly isn’t about improving the welfare and condition of our vulnerable.
This is all about Governor Rauner’s single-minded desire to weaken or exterminate unions outright. He will not listen to reason. He will not listen to elections. He will not listen to fellow Republicans.
We are here to commemorate the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King. He understood the direct link between racial justice and economic justice and that is why he died supporting the union movement. It is no coincidence in my mind that the cuts and disruptions being enacted by Governor Rauner fall disproportionately on the heads of women and people of color.
This is wrong and we are called by our conscience to stop him.
Only the labor movement can check the greed of corporations, and only by working together will we of the labor movement be able to stop the reckless cruelty of Bruce Rauner.