This Labor Day, Illinois is facing historic hardship directly because of Bruce Rauner’s hostility to the rights of workers to unite and bargain collectively for better wages, safety and workplace protections. The budget crisis we still face, which has led to credit downgrades, ballooning debt, closed social services agencies and classrooms and suffering for hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans, was manufactured for one partisan political purpose alone: To rob labor of its power.
At no time in recent history has any governor of Illinois engaged in such a revenging and radical course and the results, which anyone can see plainly, have been devastating. Our union, which represents more than 50,000 state healthcare and child care workers, many who live at or near poverty, has gone without a contract since last year. Meanwhile, the system of care in Illinois has been thrown into utter turmoil and disarray, causing panic and confusion for countless working families, seniors and people with disabilities.
Our workers are not alone in their struggle: Rauner is seeking to dismantle or terminate project labor agreements, curtail workmen’s compensation benefits for those killed or injured on the job and wants to weaken the right to bargain collectively. His fellow Republicans, gleeful to benefit from his checkbook politics, are enabling this radical lurch to the bottom in a way that they must know in their hearts will only make matters worse for working people and for all Illinois.
Labor Day is a time to remember the great sacrifices, some written in blood, that men and women made for the most basic dignity. It’s our duty to preserve their legacy and now, in Illinois’ hour of trial, to stand up in solidarity to Bruce Rauner and his enablers.