Here’s what happened to teachers after Wisconsin gutted its unions

by Lydia DePillis   @CNNMoney

Britta Pigorsch was a sophomore in a high school outside of Madison, Wisconsin, when Act 10 passed the state legislature in 2011.

She already knew she wanted to be a teacher. But the legislation, which gutted collective bargaining rights for public sector unions and slashed their benefits, galvanized her further.

“It angered me,” said Pigorsch. “I thought: Well, I could either not go into education, or I could go into education and be a voice that stands up for it.”

Now 22 years old and soon to receive her teaching certificate from the University of Wisconsin, Pigorsch faces a vastly changed landscape.

Along with diminished leverage with school boards, teachers have seen lower pay, reduced pension and health insurance benefits and higher turnover as educators hop from one district to another in search of raises, a new report finds.

With the Supreme Court preparing to hear a case that could make paying dues to unions voluntary for public sector employees — like they already are in right-to-work states — Wisconsin’s experience could soon confront teachers across the country as well.

In the five years since Act 10 was passed, median salaries for teachers in the state have fallen by 2.6% and median benefits declined 18.6%, according to an analysis of state administrative databy the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund.

chart wisconsin teachers

In addition, 10.5% of public school teachers in Wisconsin left the profession after the 2010-2011 school year, up from 6.4% the year before. The exit rate remains elevated, at 8.8%.

As a consequence, the report found, Wisconsin’s educational workforce is less experienced: Teachers had an average of 13.9 years experience under their belt in the 2015-2016 academic year, down from 14.6 years in 2010-2011.

Teachers aren’t just moving out of the state or out of the field entirely. A higher percentage of teachers are also moving to other districts: From 2015 to 2016, the percentage who did so jumped from 1.3% to 3.4%, according to the report.

“In a climate right now where we see the only way an educator could get a pay raise is moving to another district, that’s a natural outcome,” said Christina Brey, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which represents grade school employees.

That’s particularly difficult for rural districts, which can’t afford to pay more to retain good teachers. The report found that teachers in rural areas werethe most likely to move districts, and the average level of experience among teachers in those areas had fallen the most: One out of four rural teachers had taught for fewer than five years in 2015-2016, up from 17.6% in the year before Act 10 passed.

“Rural schools oftentimes are seen as starting grounds, where newer teachers can put in a year or two before moving to a wealthier area where they can get a pay raise,” Brey said.

So how has all this affected kids?

Related: Billionaire pulls the plug on DNAInfo, Gothamist after vote to unionize

The report’s authors, David Madland and Alex Rowell, reviewed other research that suggested that as collective bargaining agreements expired, students performed slightly worse on standardized tests, particularly in already struggling schools.

But perfect measurement is difficult, since the tests have changed several times since Act 10 passed. The conservative, Madison-based John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, which supports Act 10, argues that other metrics — such as graduation rates and the number of advanced placement tests taken — are trending upward.

“I think if this cataclysmic destruction scenario was going to play out, you wouldn’t be seeing such positive education news,” says Chris Richardson, the organization’s communications director.

Nobody disputes, however, that Act 10 had a devastating impact on Wisconsin’s unions, which went from representing 14.1% of workers in the state in 2011 to 9% in 2016.

The case currently pending before the Supreme Court, Janus vs. AFSCME, could make paying dues to unions voluntary for public sector employees. (Currently, in non-right-to-work states that allow collective bargaining for public employees, all workers covered by a union contract must pay dues.)

That would cut into the unions’ budgets and reduce their power, which could lead to the same weakening of pay and benefits that Wisconsin’s teachers have experienced.

But unions in other states have seen this coming for a long time. The unions weathered a similar case that deadlocked last year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and they have since taken steps to build confidence among their membership so they will keep paying dues even if it’s no longer required.

Related: Why the world isn’t getting a pay raise

“As a result of the dress rehearsal that they got, they all in their own ways have taken steps to be as prepared as they can be,” says Michael Childers, director of the School for Workers at the University of Wisconsin. “It’s not like they haven’t seen this coming.”

In the years since Act 10 passed, Brey said her union has adapted by becoming more active on the local level, and offering more training and other services to make membership more appealing for teachers.

Meanwhile, Pigorsch is considering where to look for a job after she earns her certificate in January. Many of her peers, she said, have been warned off by older teachers who’ve become cynical about the changes to Wisconsin schools. She wants to stay and try to improve things in Wisconsin, but better pay and stronger representation are just across the St. Croix River in Minnesota.

“A part of me thinks I want to start my career feeling good about being a teacher, and being respected, and having the benefits that a union can give me,” Pigorsch said. “If the students from the state’s top teaching school don’t even want to teach in their own home state, I don’t think that’s a very good sign.”

A Message from General President Terry O’Sullivan


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Veterans Day and Remembrance Day we are all aware of dangers around the globe and the men and women in uniform across the United States and Canada who shield and protect us from them.

From the Middle East to the Pacific Rim of Asia and lands in between, we salute our service members and veterans. We honor their everyday sacrifices and the dedication that means months and years spent far from home. And we honor all those who have paid the ultimate price. Their courage must never be forgotten.

In the 114 years since our founding, tens of thousands of LIUNA members have answered the call to serve their countries. As our veterans have served us, we must also serve them – through Helmets to Hardhats, by recruiting them into good jobs, and by supporting programs and policies that honor and reward their service.

On behalf of myself, General Secretary-Treasurer Armand E. Sabitoni and the entire LIUNA General Executive Board, we thank each and every veteran not just on this holiday, but every day. Let’s vow never to forget all those who have served our countries and sacrificed their lives to protect us. We are in their debt.

With kind regards, I am

Fraternally yours,

General President

Rauner scores big win by small margin on ‘right-to-work’ veto

This is why we need to elect Union friendly politicians not only in the City of Chicago but also in Springfield and in Washington D.C., your future depends on it. 

By Tina Sfondeles – Chicago Sun-Times

SPRINGFIELD—In a big win for Gov. Bruce Rauner — and perhaps a sign that Republican legislators haven’t deserted him — the Illinois House failed by just one vote to override his veto of a bill that would prohibit local municipalities from enacting “right-to-work” zones to get around unions.

This week of the veto session was seen as a test of how badly the governor had alienated Republicans after signing into law a House bill that expands public funding of abortion — a move that even spawned the possibility he’ll get a primary challenger.

The test comes three months after Rauner saw some House Republicans buck him on a tax and budget package. But on Wednesday, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin worked his caucus hard — and only four Republicans broke ranks on the override measure, joining 66 Democrats.  The 70-42 vote fell one vote short.

Rauner’s victory lap for an issue he’s pushed since his election may be a short one, however.  A motion to reconsider the vote can still be filed, and bill sponsor state Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines, plans to file separate legislation ahead of the veto session next month to remove a controversial portion of the measure that offers a criminal penalty to local governments that enact right-to-work. Both of those options offer an opportunity to get additional votes on the measure.

An override requires 71 votes, and there are 67 House Democrats.

Right-to-work essentially allows people to work in union jobs without paying union dues. Rauner included it in his “Turnaround Agenda.” He’s argued that without it, local municipalities are denied flexibility, resulting in fewer jobs, slower economic growth and higher taxes.

In a statement, the governor called the failed override a “victory” for the people of Illinois.

“Instead, courageous House lawmakers stood together to dump the old playbook and move forward to make Illinois more competitive,” the governor said in a statement.

The Illinois Senate voted 42-13 to override the veto on Tuesday, with no debate.  After the Senate override, the governor’s office said the override “could create a damaging loss for the economic competitiveness of Illinois.” The governor’s office said the vote denies local communities the ability to decide for themselves how they’d like to structure regulations to compete with nearby states.

The statement responding to the Senate vote came out the same day Rauner released a campaign ad featuring the governors of Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri thanking Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan for sending jobs their way.

While Rauner has signaled his support for right-to-work for years, he’s also focused on a U.S. Supreme Court case — of which he was the initial plaintiff — that challenges whether government employee unions should be able to collect fees from nonmembers. Rauner’s former chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen, a former head of the Illinois Policy Institute, said she left his administration to head an “initiative” in support of the case.

The measure that failed on Wednesday would have prohibited local units of government from instituting “right-to-work” ordinances. The bill was pushed after the village of Lincolnshire in 2015 enacted a right-to-work ordinance, which unions challenged in court. A federal district court agreed with the unions that local right-to-work ordinances are pre-empted by the National Labor Relations Act, which allows states to pass right-to-work laws but doesn’t allow local units of government to do so.

During nearly an hour of debate, state Rep. Jeanne Ives,  R-Wheaton, said the override would send a bad signal to businesses: “It is the nail in the coffin for Illinois business.”

Moylan said the bill would help to send a message that the state shouldn’t become a right-to-work state.

But Republicans had some sticking points with the measure, including a provision that would enact a penalty for local municipalities who enact right-to-work zones. Moylan said that would be removed in a trailer bill.

“This is not a clean bill,” said Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee. “A yes vote is a yes to locking up village trustees and putting local mayors in jail. Let’s just remember that. … We should demand a clean bill, not this.”

Many Democrats pointed the finger at the governor for pushing the right-to-work issue and blaming him for a union busting ideology.

“The governor over and over and over again keeps beating his fist on this,” state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, said, adding workers in nearby right-to-work states “make less, have a higher injury rate at work and less health care for their families.”

Job Bid Announcement – Field Payroll Auditor – DSS

See our Jobs section of our app or the jobs section of our website to bid for this position.
This position is covered under the City’s collective bargaining agreement with the County, Municipal and Foreman Local 1001. (BARGAINING UNIT 54).  Only employees in City job titles in this bargaining unit are eligible to bid on this position. 
Number of Positions: 1
  • Receives and audits Payroll Registers for various payments to employees in the department.
  • Monitors employee time records daily for accuracy by running reports in CATA.
  • Field Payroll Auditors complete employee verifications, obtain payroll records for court proceedings and settlements, retrieve filed tax documents (W2s), reviews all incoming payroll related documents.
  • Completes as needed all pension paperwork, court ordered garnishments, direct deposit forms and promptly forwards as needed to other City departments or agencies.
  • Sorts payroll checks for distribution to citywide department field locations.
  • Investigates and promptly reports findings of all Employee requested payroll inquires of under or overpayments to supervisors.
  • Must have knowledge of relevant collective bargaining agreements, Personnel Rules, and commonly used CATA pay codes.
  • Must have good communication, writing and time management skills. Required to answer the general payroll phone number and provide assistance to employees or others who have payroll inquiries including those who visit the department.
  • Must be proficient with various software such as CATA, Oracle, MS Excel and MS Word.
NOTE:  The list of essential duties is not intended to be inclusive; there may be other duties that are essential to particular positions within the class.

Go Cubs Go!

Let’s show our Chicago support, our LiUNA Local 1001 support, for our Chicago Cubs. Just like our brothers and sisters of LiUNA there is no nothside or southside when it comes to supporting each other. It’s OUR Cubs, it’s OUR Union.  Go Cubs!


Why it’s only right that non- union workers pay dues in agency shop

Chicago Sun-Times – BY MARICK F. MASTERS 

Marick F. Masters is director of Labor@ Wayne at Wayne State University, which includes the Douglas A. Fraser Center for Workplace Issues. He is also a professor of business and adjunct professor of political science.

The U. S. Supreme Court will soon hear a case challenging the agency shop in the public sector.

The Supreme Court will soon hear a case challenging the requirement that non- union workers pay union dues in an agency shop.Opponents of the agency shop, which requires nonunion employees to pay union dues, argue that it infringes on an individual’s freedom to work, violates one’s freedom of speech, confers upon unions a privilege ( payment of dues) unavailable to other associations and grants undue power to labor organizations.

Each argument is specious.

First, the agency shop makes no more infringement on freedom to work than any other condition of employment required by an employer, such as confidentiality, non- compete and mandatory employment arbitration agreements. A major difference between the agency shop and these other conditions is that the former is bilaterally negotiated while the latter are decreed by management.

Second, the agency shop in no way abridges an employee’s right to object to a union’s positions on issues taken at the bargaining table or in politics. Any employee in a bargaining unit may protest any position taken. In addition, non- union employees may block the use of their dues for political activities.

Third, unions are granted the right to negotiate the agency shop under existing labor laws because they have a legal obligation to represent all the employees in the bargaining unit, even those who choose not to join the union. Non- union employees represented by labor organizations reap the gains of higher wages and better benefits negotiated into contracts. They also are entitled to union representation in the grievance process.

Simply put, unions, which are duly recognized bargaining representatives, enjoy the “privilege” of negotiating agency shops because of their legal obligation to represent all, regardless of membership status.

Finally, the monetary “windfall” ascribed to the agency shop, which presumably might consign to labor unwarranted power, needs to be put into perspective. Labor’s financial wherewithal pales in comparison to business.

The total income from dues and other employeebased fees generated by all national labor organizations in the United States amounted to $ 4.05 billion in 2016. This sum is merely a fraction of the net sales of any one of the largest firms in the U. S., such as Amazon, which totaled $ 136 billion in 2016.

Indeed, the financially disadvantaged place of labor in politics is revealed in the 15- to- 1 advantage businesses had in expenditures made in the 2016 federal elections: $ 3.4 billion compared with labor’s $ 205 million.

The animosity towards labor unions is palpable. Opponents of the agency shop seek not to spread freedom or democracy in the workplace but rather to emasculate unions. The agency shop is attacked because it promotes the institutional security of unions.

Viable unions are essential to giving voice to otherwise mute workers in the workplace and in politics. There is no other cohesive countervailing power to corporate dominance. Exclusive representation combined with the agency shop promotes equity in the workplace, prevents splintering of the workforce and advances responsible union representation.

Special discount on the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES for CFL-affiliated union members

To help encourage union members to sign up for a subscription, the Chicago Sun-Times is offering special pricing for affiliated-unions and their members to subscribe. Please promote this offer widely to your union brothers and sisters so that they will subscribe to the newspaper that reflects the values and character of the working men and women of Chicago. We also hope that you will pick up a subscription for yourself as well. The links to the home delivery and e-paper subscriptions are below.


 7-day HOME DELIVERY · $16.99/month

*includes e-paper subscription



LiUNA for JB & Juliana

Check out the new video in the video tab of our app to see the great turnout at the Chicagoland Laborers’ District Council event for JB and Juliana.

Thanks to all the members and their families for coming out to show their support for the next Governor and Lt. Governor of Illinois.


Job/Bid Announcement – Forestry Supervisor

Please see the Jobs section in our app or on our website for more information and the direct link to the City of Chicago website to apply.




This position is covered under the City’s collective bargaining agreement with the County, Municipal and Foreman Local 1001. (BARGAINING UNIT 54).  Only employees in City job titles in this bargaining unit are eligible to bid on this position. 



Number of Positions: 1

Under general supervision, supervises forestry crews engaged in the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees and plant materials for landscape beautification projects


·        Plans, assigns, and supervises the work activities of forestry crews engaged in the planting, trimming, removal, insect and disease management, and storm damage response of trees and shrubbery on City parkways

·         Develops and implements work plans and prepares time lines for the completion of projects

·         Conducts on-site inspections to ensure the quality and timeliness of work and to ensure that staff follow proper safety procedures

·         Supervises staff in the disposal of landscaping debris

·         Enforces provisions in the City of Chicago Municipal Code, Chapter 10-32 Trees, Plants and Shrubs, as directed by the Deputy Commissioner of Forestry

·         Supervises the completion of surveys to inspect and assess trees and other plant materials to determine the quality, rate of growth, and insect and disease damage

·         Inspects equipment for proper condition and operation and authorizes repairs or replacement as necessary


Wisconsin appeals court upholds ‘right-to-work’ law, dealing blow to unions

Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MADISON – The state Court of Appeals upheld Wisconsin’s “right-to-work” law Tuesday, dealing a second legal blow to unions two months after a similar federal lawsuit was thrown out.

GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers in 2015 approved the law, which prohibits labor contracts that require all workers in certain job classifications — including those who don’t want to belong to a union — to pay union fees.

Unions sued in state and federal court. Federal law requires unions to represent all workers in certain job classes, and the unions argued it was unconstitutional for the government to prevent them from collecting fees from all workers who they had to provide services for.

RELATED: For unions in Wisconsin, a fast and hard fall since Act 10

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found the law was constitutional in July and threw out the federal lawsuit.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin District 3 Court of Appeals unanimously issued a similar decision. The Wausau-based court found the law was constitutional, rejecting the unions’ argument that the government had deprived them of income from non-members.

“The unions have no constitutional entitlement to the fees of non-member employees,” Judge Mark Seidl wrote for the court.

He was joined by Judges Thomas Hruz and Lisa Stark.

Their decision overturned an April 2016 ruling by Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust that found the law unconstitutional. The appeals court had kept the law in place while it considered the case.

The case was brought by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and units of the International Associations of Machinists and United Steelworkers.

LIUNA GP Video on Infrastructure Investment

It’s time to stop sugar-coating the issue of America’s crumbling roads and bridges, water systems and energy infrastructure.  Both parties have major investment proposals.

Now is the time to act on investment that creates good jobs and builds our nation.

The video is available in the video tab of our app or by using the link below. Please take a minute to view it and hear how important President O’Sullivan’s message is about something that directly effects each and every one of us today.

Watch and share the General President’s video message on infrastructure investment here. 

Job/Bid Announcement – Safety Specialist Chicago Department of Aviation

Job/Bid Announcement     Job Number:289133




(Once the website opens, scroll down and click on the button titled “Bid Opportunities.”)




These positions are open to the general public and to all current city employees covered under the terms of the City’s collective bargaining agreement with the Local 1001 of the LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA (BU #54).


Under supervision, inspects safety and accident prevention practices activities in the work place of the Chicago Department of Aviation Construction Management group, and performs related duties as required. The position will inspects safety and accident prevention practices activities for construction activities of O’Hare 21 and capital improvement projects at O’Hare international and Midway International Airports.

The position assists the activities of the Chicago Department of Aviation Planning and Development Group to support the O’Hare 21 and capital improvement projects. The position inspects the activities of various construction firms that hold design-bid-build, JOC, and term contracts with the Chicago Department of Aviation. The projects vary in scope and complexity (small scale renovation work, airfield runway projects, large scale facility projects, etc.). The position leverages construction industry and aviation industry best practices.



  • Assists in developing and implementing departmental safety regulations, policies and procedures
  • Inspects work areas and/or construction sites to ensure working conditions are in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and municipal and state safety regulations and policies
  • Makes recommendations to correct observed and reported safety violations and to implement safe work practices including the use of protective gear (e.g., helmets, steel tipped shoes, safety glasses, gloves)
  • Ensures that safety precautions (e.g., sufficient lighting, warning signs, barricades) are posted near construction or hazardous sites
  • Ensures proper procedures are followed and rescue equipment is accessible to crews working in confined spaces and during excavations
  • Investigates accidents to determine their cause and to develop methods and procedures to prevent future occurrences
  • Evaluates automotive and personal injury accident reports for evidence of cause and prepares reports on findings
  • Conducts employee training sessions on safety policies and practices and arranges for product manufacturers to train employees on the proper use of safety equipment and gear
  • Maintains complete and accurate records of personal injury and property accidents
  • Reviews safety policies and practices and assists in updating departmental manuals and policies
  • Drives to field sites to observe practices
  • Other duties as assigned by management

Location: Aviation Administration Building, 10510 W. Zemke Road, Chicago

Division: Airport Planning and Development

Shift: Monday thru Friday

Hours: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

NOTE: This is a 24/7 on-call operations, will be subject to over-time based on operational needs.



 An Associate’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university, plus one year of work experience in accident prevention and safety inspection OR at least two years of work experience in accident prevention and safety inspection.

Licensure, Certification, or Other Qualifications:

  • OSHA and Construction related
  • A valid State of Illinois driver’s license is required. Requires obtaining an Airfield Basic Driving Certification (stripe) within six months of hire
  • Asset management experience is preferred but not required
  • Previous aviation industry or FAA experience is preferred but not required
  • Commissioning experience is preferred but not required
  • Building Automation Systems experience is preferred but not required
Education & Employment Verification: Please be advised that if you are selected to be hired you must provide, upon request, adequate information regarding your educational and employment history as it relates to the qualifications of the position for which you are applying.  If you received your degree internationally, all international transcripts/diploma must be accompanied by a Foreign Credential Evaluation.  If the City of Chicago cannot verify this information, any offer extended to you will be withdrawn and you will not be hired.

NOTE:  To be considered for this position you must provide information about your educational background and your work experience. You must include job titles, dates of employment, and specific job duties.  (If you are a current City employee, Acting Up cannot be considered.)  If you fail to provide this information at the time you submit your application, it will be incomplete and you will not be considered for this position.  There are three ways to provide the information: 1) you may attach a resume; 2) you may paste a resume; or 3) you can complete the online resume field.

NOTE:  You must provide your transcripts or diploma, professional license, or training certificates at time of processing, if applicable.  You must also provide your valid U.S. driver’s license at time of processing of processing.


This position requires applicants to complete an interview. The interviewed candidate(s) possessing the qualifications best suited to fulfill the responsibilities of the position will be selected.

NOTE: The candidate(s) selected for hire must pass an airport background check and a Security Threat Assessment (STA).

VETERANS PREFERENCE NOTE:  The City of Chicago offers Veterans Preference to both current, active military personnel AND military personnel who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States and have received an honorable or general discharge.  Eligible candidates must have at least six months of active duty documented.  In order to receive the veterans preference, candidates need to indicate whether or not they are a veteran by answering “yes” or “no” to the question on the online application that asks, “Are you currently serving on active duty for at least six months in the Armed Forces of the United States OR have you served in the Armed Forces of the United States on active duty for at least six months and received an honorable or general discharge?”  In addition, you must attach documentation to verify your military service.  For veterans, you must attach a copy of your DD214 to your online application which includes character of service status OR a letter from the United States Veterans Administration on official stationary stating dates of service and character of service.  For active military personnel, you must attach a letter from your Commanding Officer on official stationary verifying your active duty, length of service, and character of service in the Armed Forces of the United States AND a copy of your military ID to your online application.  Failure to answer the question and attach the required documentation will result in you not being considered for the Veterans Preference.

Evaluation:  Your initial evaluation will be based on information provided on the application form and documents submitted with the application. Applications must be submitted by the individual applicant.  No second party applications will be accepted.

Residency Requirement: All employees of the City of Chicago must be actual residents of the City as outlined in 2-152-050 of the City of Chicago Municipal Code. Proof of residency will be required.

If you would like to request a reasonable accommodation due to disability or pregnancy in order to participate in the application processplease contact the City of Chicago, Department of Human Resources, at 312-744-4976 (voice) or 312-744-5035. (TTY).  Please be prepared to provide information in support of your reasonable accommodation request.




The City of Chicago is an Equal Employment Opportunity and Military Friendly Employer.


Unposting Date: Sep 28, 2017, 11:59:00 PM

BU: 54
Salary: $54,972.00 |   Pay Basis:Yearly


Apply online here… 

A Message From General President Terry O’Sulllivan


September 11, 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

As we near the 16th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, we should take time to reflect and mourn those we lost in the malicious and cowardly attacks. The attack on our nation and the innocent lives cut short will never be forgotten.

We should also honor and commend the heroes, including LIUNA members, who participated in the 9/11 response and clean-up efforts and later the rebuilding of the World Trade Center and construction of the Flight 93 Memorial.

On behalf of myself, General Secretary-Treasurer Armand E. Sabitoni, and the entire LIUNA General Executive Board, I urge that we continue to honor the memory of those lost on 9/11 and share our deep gratitude with those who responded with such fearlessness and dedication to the devastating attacks.
With kind regards, I am

Fraternally yours,

General President

Rightwing alliance plots assault to ‘defund and defang’ America’s unions


  • Conservative campaign aims to strike ‘mortal blow’ on government unions
  •  ‘A once-in-a-lifetime chance to reverse the failed policies of the American left’
 Teachers in California protest against a Wisconsin law affecting public-sector collective bargaining. Union membership among public-sector workers is about 35%.
 Teachers in California protest against a Wisconsin law affecting public-sector collective bargaining. Union membership among public-sector workers is about 35%. Photograph: Robert Durell/AP

Rightwing activists across the US have launched a nationwide campaign to undermine progressive politicians by depriving them of a major source of support and funding – public sector unions.

A network of conservative thinktanks with outposts in all 50 states has embarked on a “breakthrough” campaign designed to strike a “mortal blow” against the American left. The aim is to “defund and defang” unions representing government employees as the first step towards ensuring the permanent collapse of progressive politics.

The campaign carries a powerful echo of the populist creed espoused by Donald Trump. The president was propelled into the White House last November after unexpected victories in several previously Democratic rust belt states including Michigan and Wisconsin, both of which have endured withering attacks on trade unions in recent years.

The new assault is being spearheaded by the State Policy Network (SPN), an alliance of 66 state-based thinktanks, or “ideas factories” as it calls them, with a combined annual budget of $80m. As suggested by its slogan – “State solutions. National impact” – the group outlines an aim to construct a rightwing hegemony throughout the US, working from the bottom up.

To do that, it first has to sweep aside the public sector unions and their historic ties to Democratic and progressive politicians. In a 10-page fundraising letter, part of a set of documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and published by the Guardian today for the first time, SPN sets out its mission in frank language that does not disguise its partisan ambitions.

The author of the letter, SPN’s president and CEO Tracie Sharp, describes the $8m“breakthrough” campaign as a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to reverse the failed policies of the American left … We are primed, right now, to deliver the mortal blow to permanently break its stranglehold on our society.”

Sharp pitches the battle against unions as the start of a war on progressive politics, with the ultimate goal of winning elections for rightwing candidates. “Big government unions are the biggest sources of funding and political muscle for the left – and a major obstacle to the ability of voters to reclaim control of American government. To win the battle for freedom, we must take the fight to the unions, state by state.”

The target of such union-bashing, she openly admits, is to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions”. The long-term objective is to “deal a major blow to the left’s ability to control government at the state and national levels. I’m talking about permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle” (emphasis in original).

SPN will be discussing its anti-union and anti-left agenda on Wednesday at its annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Its morning session will look at how “labor reform” can be pursued with renewed vigor under the Trump administration.

The discussion will feature some of the key architects of SPN’s political strategy, including Vincent Vernuccio who pioneered anti-union legislation in Michigan, and Tom McCabe of the Freedom Foundation, who has sent his foot soldiers on an aggressive offensive against collective bargaining in the US north-west.

Mary Bottari, deputy director of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) which tracks the rise of rightwing groups in America, said the fundraising letter and other SPN documents published by the Guardian cast light on the conservative game plan. “It’s very rare to catch conservative thinktanks talking so openly and blatantly about their long-term political aims. These documents reveal to us that SPN’s goals are entirely political – they have no concern for workers or union members, their only goal is winning elections to advance rightwing causes.”

Bottari added: “An $80m campaign to ‘defund and defang’ public sector unions is remarkable, both in its size and in its ambition.”

Public sector unions have come under growing fire from conservatives in recent years. While unions operating in private companies have been diminished since the 1980s – their membership plummeting from about 17% of the workforce in 1983 to just 6% today – their equivalents in the public sector such as teacher, local government, police and fire officer unions have remained relatively stable, at around 35%.

But in 2010, Scott Walker, the newly elected governor of Wisconsin, opened a new front in America’s partisan war when he passed Act 10, stripping public sector unions of the power to bargain collectively and forcing them to re-certify themselves every year with electoral backing from more than 50% of all workers, not just those voting. The move has spawned a rash of imitations across Republican-controlled states, with Iowa and Indiana passing similar laws, and a further 15 states introducing legislation – encouraged by SPN, which has framed a model bill to make it easier for Republican legislators to adopt the changes.

A total of 28 states have also passed “right to work” laws that allow workers in private companies to refuse to join unions despite enjoying the fruits of collective bargaining.

Though the long-term consequences of such union restrictions have yet to be fully understood, there are early indications that the impact could be profound even at presidential level. Since Act 10 came into effect in Wisconsin, public sector union membership has slumped by 40%, or about 136,000 people.

Trump won Wisconsin last November by just 23,000 votes.

A similar pattern can be seen in Michigan where unions have shrunk steadilysince a right-to-work law came into effect in 2013, with a loss of at least 30,000 members. Trump took Michigan, to the shock of Hillary Clinton and her supporters, by just 11,000 votes.

When asked whether anti-union laws in Michigan and Wisconsin had affected the outcome of the presidential race, Matt Patterson of the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform said: “No question in my mind. Hard to fight when your bazooka’s been replaced by a squirt gun.”

Carrie Conko, SPN’s vice president of communications, said that the network does not involve itself in political campaigns. “Labor reform is an issue where SPN has been clearly on the side of workers who are against forced unionization and the use of their hard-earned wages to support causes they don’t believe in. If workers choose to support their unions agenda that is fine – but, right now, in many states they don’t have a choice or a voice.”

Conko’s statement echoed the language used in an SPN “toolkit”, also published here for the first time, that advises Republican policymakers on how to campaign for anti-union legislation. “Be pro-worker, not anti-union,” the pamphlet says. “Frame union reform from the point of view of the members and how the reform helps them have a greater voice in their union. Don’t rant against unions. We’ve all been frustrated by the actions of public sector unions to block pro-freedom reforms, but publicly venting these feelings is counterproductive.”

SPN’s disclosure of its political and partisan objectives in the new documents could arouse the interest of investigators from the Internal Revenue Service. The group is constituted as a 501(c)(3) organisation, which renders it exempt as a charity from taxation.

Marc Owens, a partner with Loeb & Loeb who worked as an IRS lawyer specializing in charitable tax exemptions, said that the provision was designed for charitable purposes, not for lobbying against public sector unions or for activities to influence the outcome of elections. “A charity that does those things is not engaging in charitable activities and that puts its tax exempt status in jeopardy,” he said.

Conko told the Guardian that SPN takes “great care to be fully in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations”.

Frustration mounts over premiums for individual health plans

Without Unions and the benefits workers receive from being a member and having a strong Collective Bargaining Argeement, this could be YOU. Union Strong, Union Proud!



From all of us at LiUNA Local 1001 have a Happy and Safe Labor Day Holiday!

We know some of you have read the paper below over the past 17 years but we as the proud members of the Union movement must always remember is where we came from, how we got here, and continue to work together to insure the passion and strength of every Union, especially LiUNA, is carried on for generations to come. 

I, like so many before me, am a part of the skilled labor force of this great country of ours. In fact, going back to almost the turn of the last century, my relatives have been a part of the working men and women who helped build our infrastructure.

In my youth I never realized the tradition that I had embraced by choosing this road. I often wonder, like so many of us, should I have taken another path? Should I have gone on to become a lawyer or a doctor, like most parents wish for their children. Children who have seen the struggle and hardship that so many ordinary working families do.

I am proud to have been given the opportunity to walk in my ancestor’s footsteps. But I am the last of a breed, the end of the line. My other family members and siblings have chosen another road, the road of white collars and wingtip shoes. And for them, now maybe for the very first time, I feel a sense of sorrow in my heart, because I have something that they will never experience. The sweat, the pain, the cold hands and the aching feet, the thought of the work day being just a little while longer, and then the relief and immense pride felt when the job is done. A feeling that only those of us who have actually been there can feel. The sense of accomplishment that not even the CEO of the biggest corporation can ever experience.

In the early days being a worker on the railroads, the tunnels or the bridges was a way for our immigrant ancestors to attain a better life for themselves and their families. Their sense of hard work was only surpassed by their great sense of pride in what they had built. Many of our ancestors never made it out of those trenches or off those bridges or tracks, and for them I feel a deep sense of grief. Knowing now how hard they worked to build this country and to build a life for their families is somehow lost in the new age of technology.

It’s not brain surgery or biochemistry but what we do every day with our hands and our backs is something that only we can truly understand.

I must admit that for many years I was frustrated and bitter for making the choice that I made. Wanting what so many around me had gotten because of their interest in being the one who chooses the color, not paints the house.

I really didn’t understand how lucky I was!

To see a road built is fine but knowing that I helped build it is something that doesn’t fade quickly. The architect who draws the building is featured in magazines but the men and women who actually build it are never asked, never told, never seen, as the true artist. That building is much more theirs, than the man who put the drawings on paper.

Yes, most times it is an unrecognized effort by those who are looking for nothing more than an honest living and a means to support their families.

Yet can it be any different? Probably not, but I don’t think that really matters to many of us. You see, we know we were there, we know how much sweat and pain it took and we know when we look up at that building that those who went before us are looking on and cheering, “Good Job!”

I am sure they can see the fruits of my labor and theirs, and I often wonder if the feelings I have in my heart are those of all who came before me. Feelings swelled like a great big ball, the fiery emotions of friendships and toil, laughter and hardship, combined with spirited globs of heartaches, smiles, tears and cheers. One can only take faith that this has been their gift to me.

I sometimes wonder if our fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters are up there looking on and smiling about how far we have come and how much we have accomplished.

But most of all, I wonder if they are proud of me. Proud of the work I have done, of what I have built and what I have yet to build. Proud to see that the road they chose to travel has once again been traveled by one of their own.

The thought of their pride is what drives me even harder every day.

To all of those who came before me I say “Thank you”. And to all of you I say, “I am Proud to be a Laborer”.


©Millennium Laborer printed by permission

Labor Day is Our Day – A Message from General President Terry O’Sullivan


Labor Day is Our Day

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we begin the Labor Day weekend, it is important to remember that Labor Day is our holiday – a commemoration of the work we do each and every day, and the struggles of all working men and women to create economic equality in the United States and Canada. No one deserves this honor more than the strong, proud, and united members of LIUNA.

Labor Day was instituted to recognize the contributions of working men and women in both our countries. In the more than 100 years since the holiday was first celebrated, LIUNA members have continued to risk their livelihoods and even their lives in the fight for justice, honor, and strength for all workers.  And by doing so, we have helped to create the largest middle class in the history of mankind.

However, we must recommit ourselves to fight against the anti-union, anti- worker forces of evil that threaten both unions and the middle class. We must combat efforts to gut our pay and benefits, push back on so-called right-to-work laws and the repeal of prevailing wage laws. We must protect the right to negotiate in the public and private sector, and fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

We cannot allow this continuing war on working people to shrink the middle class and continue both our nation’s income inequality. That means we have to fight to protect and expand upon all that our union and the labor movement has accomplished.

On this holiday, let us commemorate all we and those that came before us have accomplished, and as always, may every LIUNA member FEEL THE POWER, BE THE POWER, and USE THE POWER.

On behalf of myself, General Secretary-Treasurer Armand E. Sabitoni, and the entire LIUNA General Executive Board,  I wish you and your family a safe, relaxing, and well-deserved Labor Day.

With kind regards, I am

Fraternally yours,

General President

Job/Bid Announcement – Field Vehicle Investigator – DSS


BID ONLY ANNOUNCEMENT – Check out our website or the jobs tab in our app for all the details and a link to apply online. 


These positions are open to all current city employees covered under the terms of the City’s collective bargaining agreement with the COUNTY, MUNICIPAL SUPERVISORS AND FOREMAN LOCAL 1001 (BARGAINING UNIT 54).   Only employees in City job titles in this bargaining unit are eligible to bid on this position. 






We Really do Pick Up Everything!

When people ask what do the City of Chicago Sanitation Laborers’ pick up, the answer is simple “We Pick Up Everything!” Just look at the video below, that should say it all.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, it’s a cardboard haloween decoration, but we really do pick up everything. Keep up the great work men and women of LiUNA Local 1001!

Iowa GOP opens new front against public worker unions

We are not in this alone, Public employee Unions are under attack everywhere. 

By Reid Wilson – The Hill

The Iowa legislature is finalizing rules that would amount to one of the most ambitious assaults on powerful public employee unions in recent memory, potentially stripping thousands of state workers from union rolls in the coming months.

After Republicans captured control of all levers of state government last year, the legislature passed a package of reforms aimed squarely at collective bargaining rights for public employee unions.

Several of the provisions mirror efforts passed in other Republican-led states, banning state offices from automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks and limiting the scope of contract negotiations.

But another provision threatens the very existence of the unions themselves: It will require union members to vote to re-certify their unions every time a new contract comes up for negotiation.

“Our goal was to create reforms that would allow government to be as efficient as the private sector would be,” said state Rep. Steve Holt (R), who sponsored the law. “The union needs to be accountable to its members.”

The new law sets a higher bar for unions, too. A union would need to win over the votes of a majority of its members — rather than simply a majority of those who cast ballots — to win recertification. The state’s Public Employee Relations Board is considering using fees paid by unions to finance those elections.

A state legislative panel voted earlier this month to finalize rules requiring a majority of members to re-certify a bargaining unit.

Labor leaders worry the Iowa legislation is just the first step in a new wave of laws meant to crack down on public sector unions.

Similar proposals have been introduced in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Michigan and Florida.

“This is the playbook, and it’s being rolled out all across the Midwest,” said Charlie Wishman, who heads the Iowa Federation of Labor. “As soon as [Republicans] have the opportunity, they move very quickly on these items.”

Labor backers say more frequent recertification votes will put at risk their ability to represent the 185,000 members they currently have across Iowa. Those leaders say the legislature considered input from conservative groups such as Americans for Prosperity, the free-market group founded by GOP mega-donors Charles and David Koch, without consulting the unions themselves.

“Every bargaining unit has to be rectified at least once every five years,” Wishman said. “The bar is set very high for recertification.”

The first recertification votes are scheduled to take place next month, covering about 1,200 workers, according to the state Public Employee Relations Board. By October, unions representing as many as 40,000 workers will face their own recertification votes.

Holt said public employee unions have seen their power grow immensely in recent decades. Before the reforms passed this year, state agencies had to negotiate everything from employee transfers to state-mandated staff cuts.

“That creates a scenario where the union doesn’t feel particularly accountable to its membership. Well, now they are,” Holt said.

The Iowa law is the latest in a series of challenges to the power of public employee unions that have passed Republican-led legislatures in Midwestern states, over the loud objections of Democrats and union leaders.

The reform measures spurred angry demonstrations and a failed attempt to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) in 2012. In recent years, states such as Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri have passed their own measures restricting the rights of public-sector employee unions.

Reforms were slower to come to Iowa, where Democrats held control of the state Senate for years. But last November, Republicans captured a handful of Democratic-held seats, including the one held by state Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D), to claim control of all levers of government.

DSS 4th Quarter Training Opportunities

Date: Saturday, October 21, 2017

Topic: Customer Service Requests (CSRs)/311 Complaints – How To Enter Them, Look Them Up, and

Close Them Out; Management Reports including Alley Times

Time: 09:00 hr – 11:00 hr

Location: City Hall Room 1107

Trainer/Contact Person: John Dunn

RSVP: Email John Dunn at no later than Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Date: Saturday, October 28, 2017

Topic: The Basic Concepts of KRONOS/Time and Attendance System for Editing

Time: 09:00 hr – 11:00 hr

Location: City Hall Room 1107

Trainer/Contact Person: Steve Morales

RSVP: Email Steve Morales at no later than Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Date: Saturday, November 11, 2017

Topic: The Basic Concepts of Outlook/Office 365

Time: 09:00 hr – 11:00 hr

Location: City Hall Room 1107

Trainer/Contact Person: Cesar Salgado

RSVP: Email Cesar Salgado at no later than Wednesday, Nov 8, 2017

Parking: Parking is available at the Streets and Sanitation Lower Randolph facility located at 351 East Lower Randolph or local garages.

All training sessions are voluntary and attendees will not be paid for attendance. All attendees must RSVP to the appropriate trainer by the close of business on the Wednesday before the training.

Classes are open to City of Chicago Department of Streets & Sanitation Employees only


States Hope to Make One of the Dirtiest, Deadliest Jobs a Little Safer

Garbage workers are killed on the job more often than police or firefighters.

Collecting trash is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. In fact, garbage workers are far more likely to die on the job than police officers or professional firefighters.

One of the biggest dangers they face is being hit by other drivers swerving to pass the trucks along their routes. That’s why lawmakers in 16 states have passed “Slow Down to Get Around” laws in recent years.

The details vary, but most of the laws increase penalties for drivers who hit trash workers. In many cases, the laws also require drivers to treat trash trucks the same way they would treat emergency vehicles: by changing lanes or traveling at 10 to 15 mph slower than the posted speed limit.

The legislative push comes at a time when fatality rates for trash workers are on the rise: They hit their highest point in a decade in 2015, the last year for which federal data is available. Not all of those on-the-job deaths were caused by traffic crashes, but some say that risk is rising because of distracted driving.

“The majority of the incidents are when a worker is behind a truck and a driver is distracted,” says David Biderman, executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) who has been tracking the issue for a decade. “Usually, it’s a cell phone, but it can also be reaching for a soda or yelling at the kids.”

Garbage trucks often operate in residential neighborhoods in the morning when people are rushing to get to work or school and the sun is still low in the sky, making it harder for drivers to see. Meanwhile, the trash collectors are behind their trucks, with their backs to traffic. They can’t see when a car is headed their way and not slowing down.

Michigan was the first state to pass a Slow Down to Get Around law in 2009. Its law lets prosecutors bring felony charges against drivers who kill or injure people working around garbage trucks and other roadside vehicles. The other states that have passed similar laws are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

It’s tough to assess how much of an effect Michigan’s law — or those that followed — has had on fatality rates because many other factors could also influence the results, says Biderman. The number of U.S. traffic deaths overall, for example, appears to have increased the last two years, as the economy improved and Americans began driving more.

Industry groups like SWANA, along with cities and trash-hauling companies, have also tried to make the public more aware of the dangers facing garbage and recycling workers. For nearly a decade, they’ve used social media, truck decals, rallies and public service announcements to promote the message. Fairfax County, Va., even brought a trash truck covered with a Slow Down to Get Around logo to the funeral of a trash worker in a nearby Maryland county who was struck on the job.

People are generally receptive to slowing down for trash workers, Biderman says, but passing new state laws can be a tougher sell. In a few states, he says, proposals stalled because lawmakers were concerned that once they added provisions for garbage workers, accommodations would have to be made for other types of workers, like tow truck operators or utility workers.

“They’re concerned about the slippery slope,” he says. “Frankly, I’m shocked that that would be a reason not to enact legislation, because we’re going to have to protect more people.”

Biderman urges lawmakers to consider the alternatives.

“Unfortunately, one of the great catalysts for this legislation is when a worker gets struck and killed by a driver,” he says. It’s hard for lawmakers to vote against a widow who just lost her husband, testifying in favor of a Slow Down to Get Around bill. “What I say when I talk to state legislators is: Let’s not wait for that horrible thing to happen.”



Gov’s amendatory veto on funding bill puts districts across the state in limbo

Gov. Bruce Rauner did on Tuesday what he’s been vowing to do formonths: nix parts of a new bipartisan school funding bill he didn’t like.

But Rauner’s changes didn’t just target the “Chicago bailout” he’s been railing against since the legislation passed in May. Experts say his long list of line- byline changes to Senate Bill 1 would affect a lot of districts in Illinois, reputed as the worst in the country for funding for poor students.

The Illinois General Assembly now has 15 days to take up the amendatory veto — with the clock beginning on Wednesday since the Illinois Senate procedurally read in the veto on Tuesday. Thatmeans a veto could happen the week of some traditional events at the Illinois State Fair, when many lawmakers will be in Springfield.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for Illinois’ public schools, most of which are counting on their first slice of their shared $ 6.7 billion in general state aid payments due on Aug. 10, to be able to open their doors. Except the Illinois State Board of Education can’t allocate or dispatch any of that money without the new funding mechanism. Democrats in June included a provision in a budget bill that held up school aid payments without the passage of an “evidence- based” school funding formula — in an effort to get the governor to support the very measure he vetoed on Tuesday.

It allwound up leaving plenty of unanswered questions.

Will CPS and other schools throughout the state open on time?

CPS leaders, including the mayor, have vowed to do “whatever’s necessary” to open Chicago Public Schools on time— but for CPS, that’s after Labor Day. Lots of Chicago’s charter schools start classes in August, but they’re set to open on time, according to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

Districts outside of Chicago, some of which have started as of Tuesday, have warned they may not be able to open — or won’t stay open long. They’re “crisis planning” now, said Ginger Ostro, head of Advance Illinois, which has championed a new funding formula. The Illinois State Board of Education says it needs the formula “in early August” to get those payments processed on time. The board can and will, meanwhile, dispatch another $ 5.2 billion in federal and other state money.

Howmuch money does CPS lose under the Rauner veto?

It’s hard to say, since Rauner’s veto takes big bites out of Chicago — by eliminating the block grant — and several smaller bites, too. Chicago officials said they couldn’t readily calculate a total but said CPS’ block grant was about $ 250 million this year. Rauner is willing for the state to start paying CPS’ normal pension costs — $ 221 million this year — if the payment can move from SB1 to the pension code. There remains a question of whether the state constitution would permit that.

The Rauner administration has published data on a state website showing that CPS will receive $ 145 million less under the veto than it would have received in the original bill. But those numbers, too, are a bit shaky. The administration sent the veto to the state board for an analysis — and the figures Rauner had been citing are no longer available without a username or password. The governor’s office said it would be updated when the board releases its analysis, but didn’t explain why the figures are no longer publicly available.

What about other school districts?

The Rauner administration figures show they gain as CPS’ block grant gets redistributed. But according to Advance Illinois, strong advocates of the evidencebased model used in SB1, districts outside of Chicago would not be immune from Rauner’s changes.

“The veto punishes all districts by putting a cap on regional costs, ignoring inflation, and removing protections for districts in the future in the event that local resources are used to pay for pensions,” according to Advance.

For example, changing a provision in 2020 from holding each district harmless overall to holding it harmless on a per- pupil rate would affect the hundreds of Illinois districts losing students, and that’s problematic, Ostro said, because the state’s funding already is too low.

“Under the SB 1 model no district loses money year over year — it’s about how new dollars are distributed,” she said. “That’s important when districts are already inadequately funded.”

What happens next?

Rauner’s amendatory veto puts the entire school funding formula in limbo. The path to movement on an amendatory veto is fairly shaky. Legislators can vote to approve the changes, which is unlikely with a Democratic majority. They can also neglect to do anything about the veto, which will kill the measure completely. If the Illinois Senate can round up Republican support for a supermajority to override the veto, it must also pass the same muster in the Illinois House — where Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has accused Rauner of “choosing crisis over compromise.”

Targeting Chicago as being treated differently when it comes to school funding is traditionally used as a talking point to continue negotiations, according to a top Republican. But the governor on Tuesday signaled other issues he supports which weren’t included in the veto, including a private school scholarship program that includes tax credits. The Republican source noted it’s unusual to issue an amendatory veto while still vouching for additional measures he supports.

Public Policies That Help Grow the Illinois Economy

Below is a summary from the recent study by

Robert Bruno, Ph.D.  Director

Project for Middle Class Renewal

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Frank Manzo IV, M.P.P.  Policy Director

Illinois Economic Policy Institute

…. policy changes that have been proposed in Illinois would have mixed economic and social impacts:

• Peer-reviewed studies demonstrate that “right-to-work” laws have no statistical effect on overall employment in a state economy, but research does find that “right-to-work” tends to reduce wages, limit unionization, and redistribute wealth from labor to capital.

• A repeal of the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act would have no discernible impact on construction costs but would reduce middle-class construction worker earnings, increase worker reliance on government assistance programs, negatively impact apprenticeship training, and hurt the market share of local contractors.

• Reducing unemployment insurance and limiting program eligibility tends to reduce unemployment spells but also lowers the post-unemployment wages of workers because they have less time to find the “right” job match.

• Research indicates that reducing workers’ compensation benefits would have no role in boosting employment in Illinois.

• Raising the minimum wage would have little to no effect on total employment, but would reduce inequality and make housing affordable for hundreds of thousands of workers in the state.

• Providing economic development incentives and business subsidies would have little effect on economic outcomes, and numerous studies conclude that they actually reduce employment in areas because they come at the expense of other productive public goods.

• There is no evidence that limiting local government from increasing property taxes positively impacts per capita income growth, but a property tax freeze can negatively impact local economic

development if it reduces the quality of public schools or causes cuts to protective services.

• Studies on term limits for state legislators find that they are correlated with higher government spending and slower long-run economic growth, regardless of which party controls the legislature.

Read the full study report here….

The beach is not the only thing they want.

Donald Cohen – In the Public Interest

When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lounged on a closed public beach it was symbolic of his governing style. If you have money and power, you can do whatever you want—or as Christie said about his beach vacation, “That’s just the way it goes.”

And with Donald Trump in the White House, it seems like the winner-takes-all attitude has corrupted every level of American government.

But what just happened on another stretch of New Jersey shoreline goes to show: if there’s any truth in the Trump era, it’s that local politics is where ordinary people can fight back and win.

On Tuesday, the Atlantic City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to ensure its residents get to vote on any action by the state to sell or lease the city’s water system.

Why might New Jersey sell or lease Atlantic City’s water? Well, because Christie has been laying the groundwork for such a deal for years. In 2014, he passed a statewide law making it easier for struggling municipalities to sell off water infrastructure.

Turns out, Atlantic City has been struggling—mainly due to a rash of casino closures, including Trump’s failed Taj Mahal. Last summer, after the state bailed the city out, Christie made it loud and clear there were stringsattached: “I want [the loan] secured by every asset they have, so that if they don’t pay it, I get to take the assets, sell them and pay you [the taxpayer] back.” In November, he delivered on that promise and took control of the city’s assets and most of its decision-making power.

Within months, it became clear that Christie’s state takeover was really a corporate takeover. The law firm Christie hired to run the show—at $400 an hour—privatized trash collection and recommended the state layoff 100 of the city’s unionized firefighters. A partner at the firm defended the layoffs: “If we don’t have everyone sacrificing, we’re going to be Detroit.” Meanwhile, the city’s casino operators continue to receive massive tax breaks.

No wonder residents are worried their water system might be sold off or leased to a private corporation. Under public control, Atlantic City has some of the cleanest and most affordable water statewide. Privatization poses many dangers, including higher rates. New Jersey residents who get their water through private utilities pay an average of $230 more per year than those with public utilities.

There’s also the issue of quality. The city of Missoula, Montana, recently took back ownership of its water system, arguing that under private ownership it was leaking half its water while investors received millions of dollars in dividends. And remember, it was state takeover that led to Flint, Michigan’s water crisis.

Residents might be worried but they aren’t running scared. Joined by statewide and national organizations, they packed council meetings for months and gathered signatures in the community to get the water ordinance up for vote. “This is the people’s ordinance,” said a member of the local NAACP, which helped get the word out.

This is what real democracy looks like. It’s hard work but it must be done, especially now that winner-takes-all is the new normal.

Water is a fundamental human right. The only way to make sure it’s accessible to everyone, no matter how much money they have or the color of their skin, is to keep it under public control and out of the hands of corporations.

Springtime for Union Busting?

The Supreme Court’s war on the labor movement may soon claim some high-profile casualties. 

By Ian Millhiser – The Nation

Late June has become a time of terror for anyone on the left. These early days of summer are traditionally the last of the Supreme Court’s term, and at a time when the Court is dominated by Republican appointees, Democrats, liberals, and leftists alike often spend the last week of June dreading what the Court is about to do to health care, workers, and the rights of women or racial minorities.

This June, however, was different. With the Court down a justice for most of the last year, its members avoided most politically charged cases that were likely to produce a 4-4 split. Compared to past terms, the last year at the Supreme Court was relatively boring. The term’s biggest decisions—an erosion of the separation of church and state and a lamentable decision to temporarily reinstate parts of Trump’s Muslim ban—both were decided after Republicans placed someone in the Court’s final seat.

Remember how good this boredom feels, because it won’t last. With Neil Gorsuch now occupying the seat that Republicans held open more than a year until Donald Trump could fill it, the next term will not be boring at all. And the Court’s Republican majority has a familiar target in its sights: the American worker

Last year, many of America’s unions had a near-death experience.

In January of 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that sought to starve public sector unions of the money they need to operate. The arguments before the justices seemed to herald an impending disaster for the unions, with Anthony Kennedy—the closest thing to a swing vote—appearing visibly angered by some of the pro-union arguments presented to the Court. After the arguments phase, there was little doubt that organized labor would lose in a 5-4 decision that threatened many unions’ ability to operate.

Then Antonin Scalia died.

Without Scalia to cast the fifth vote against labor, the justices split 4-4 in Friedrichs and the threat to unions seemed to have passed.

Now, however, Gorsuch occupies Scalia’s old seat. And Gorsuch is, if anything, well to Scalia’s right. The Supreme Court’s war on unions, in other words, will now resume. And there’s already a case in the works that will allow the Court’s Republican majority to pick up where it left off in early 2016.

Earlier this month, lawyers led by the anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation asked the Court to hear Janus v. AFSCME, a case that is nearly identical to Friedrichs. Both challenge what are sometimes called “agency fees” or “fair share fees.” And Janus, like Friedrichs, is an existential threat to many public sector unions.

By law, unions must bargain on behalf of every worker within a bargaining unit, regardless of whether each individual worker joins the union. That creates a free-rider problem, because each individual worker gets to keep the higher wages and increased benefits that normally accompany unionization without having to pay membership dues.

Collective bargaining, moreover, is an expensive process that can require a team of lawyers and financial experts. Hiring good negotiators costs money. If too many workers refuse to pay union dues, unions can find themselves without enough funds to operate.

To solve this free-rider problem, union contracts often contain a provision requiring non-union members to reimburse the unions for their fair share of the costs of collective bargaining. These are called “agency fees.” That means that just as everyone gets to share the benefits of unionization, everyone also pays their share of the costs.

Many state legislatures, in an effort to weaken unions, ban these agency fees—that’s what so-called “right-to-work” laws do. As the Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould and Will Kimball explain, such a law is “associated with $1,558 lower annual wages for a typical full-time, full-year worker.”

Janus asks the Supreme Court to impose a right-to-work regime on all public sector unions. And with Gorsuch now occupying a seat on the Court, it is overwhelmingly likely that the Court will side with the anti-union attorneys behind Janus.

Should these lawyers prevail, the effects will be threefold.

First, wages and salaries will decline. According to Gould and Kimball, wages in right-to-work states “are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-RTW states.” State and federal workers who currently aren’t bound by a right-to-work law can expect to see similar downward pressure on their own earnings.

Second, Republicans will gain ground on Democrats. Unions provide much of the Democratic Party’s political infrastructure, including thousands of volunteers. Though agency fees cannot lawfully be spent on political activity, Janus is likely to starve many unions for cash and could cause some unions to fail entirely. That places the party of Neil Gorsuch in a much stronger position each election year.

Finally, even when Democrats do perform well at the polls, the Democrats elected in a post-Janus world are likely to act much more like Republicans. Because organized labor plays such a crucial role in the Democratic coalition, Democratic politicians take anti-labor positions at their own peril. As labor’s role diminishes, those politicians will have less to fear from labor—and more to fear from the big donors unleashed by decisions like Citizens United.

By lashing out at unions, in other words, the Supreme Court can help ensure that its future members look more like Gorsuch and less like the blocked Barack Obama nominee, Merrick Garland.

A majority of the Court, moreover, is likely to rule against public sector unions in Janus, despite the fact that the plaintiff’s arguments in this case are weak.

In essence, the lawyers behind Janus argue that agency fees violate the First Amendment because they compel non-members of a union “to subsidize the speech of a third party…that they may not wish to support.” When unions bargain, they must engage in speech to do so. And a non-union member might disagree with that speech. So that, according to the lawyers behind Janus, is unconstitutional forced speech.

It is true that, as a general matter, the government cannot compel someone to speak. But different rules apply to government workers, and for good reason. If the state hires me to teach algebra, the First Amendment doesn’t let me keep my job if I decide instead to teach my students about Japanese art, or to teach them nothing at all. As Justice Kennedy explained in Garcetti v. Ceballos, “government employers, like private employers, need a significant degree of control over their employees’ words and actions; without it, there would be little chance for the efficient provision of public services.”

Moreover, if the Supreme Court holds that bargaining between an employer and its employees is a First Amendment–protected activity, that could have absurd results. Consider a hypothetical that Justice Scalia offered in an earlier case involving agency fees.

Suppose you have a policeman who is dissatisfied with his wages. So he makes an appointment with the police commissioner, and he goes in and grouses about his wages. He does this, you know, 10 or 11 times. And the commissioner finally is fed up and tells his secretary, I don’t want to see this man again. Has he violated the Constitution?

It would be difficult, to say the least, to run a workplace if managers cannot discipline a government employee who harasses their supervisors with frivolous requests. The First Amendment has never been understood to impede workplace management in this way.

Janus, in other words, asks the Supreme Court to embrace a novel and dubious reading of the First Amendment. And it does so in service of a cause that will harm workers and greatly benefit the GOP. And there is little doubt as to how the five Republicans on the Supreme Court will vote.