Martin Luther King Was Assassinated On This Day in 1968—While Fighting For Unions


(Wikipedia/ Creative Commons)

Today, April 4th, we remember the life and dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for on this day, in 1968, he was murdered by a white supremacist at the age of 39.

King literally died while fighting for a union, murdered in Memphis in 1968 while helping that city’s sanitation workers, a majority of whom were black, organize a local of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). King had repeatedly visited the city in his final months to aid the organizing effort. The city’s elected officials were both racist and anti-union—no coincidence.

Though hardly unknown, King’s deep commitment to unions remains largely left out of the traditional telling of his story. Indeed, many do not know he championed multiple union causes in addition to fighting to end white supremacy. In fact, King devoted a large part of his short life to advocating that workers—whether African American or not—join unions, for one of his foremost goals was eradicating poverty.

The year before being murdered, King found a mighty ally in the International Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU), which had been fighting for workers and against racism since its inception in the 1930s. The day of King’s death, the members of ILWU Local 10 in San Francisco shut down the port to honor his life and protest his death. To this day, the ILWU and many other unions continue striving to achieve King’s vision.

King fought racism and poverty, two sides of the same coin

King, of course, is best known for helping lead the fight against racial segregation and white supremacy. While deeply important, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 did not result in equal rights for all. Ending legal discrimination based on race proved the easy part. Much harder, alas, has been eradicating poverty, itself inextricably linked to racial equality.

As a Christian, King considered it immoral that, in a nation as wealthy as the United States, there should be any poor people. As an American, he challenged everyone to live up to the ideal of equality of opportunity, famously once quipping, “What good does it do to be able to eat at a lunch counter if you can’t buy a hamburger?”

To uplift the poor, King encouraged all workers to join unions, calling them America’s first and greatest anti-poverty program. Simply put, when workers are stronger, they bargain for higher salaries, safer workplaces, paid parental and eldercare leave, health insurance, pensions and other benefits. The evidence is undeniable: workers in unions get paid much more precisely because they have more power. For the same reason, employers hate unions and do everything in their power, legally and illegally, to keep them out of workplaces.

King believed that unions were among the best ways to help black people, and all people really, escape poverty. The correlation between higher union membership and a larger middle class is quite strong. In the 1950s, when union membership was at its highest, the U.S. middle class was at its largest. Another effect of driving up wages—that is, redistributing income downward—was the drastic reduction in economic inequality. Wonder why, over the past 40 years, the U.S. middle class has plummeted and inequality soared? The dramatic decline in union membership has a lot to do with it.

Memphis was hardly King’s first foray into unionism. In 1961, for instance, King spoke before the AFL-CIO where he described “a dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.” While nowhere near as famous as his 1963 “I have a dream” speech, we can see that the foundation of that historic talk already had been laid.

That’s why King repeatedly traveled to Memphis in 1968. Notably, the AFSCME campaign slogan, for Memphis’ overwhelmingly African-American sanitation workers, was “I Am A Man,” literally underlining the connections between dignity, poverty and unionism for black people.

King in San Francisco: meeting the nation’s leading civil rights union

When King wanted to champion unionism to uplift poor African Americans, he found his way to the ILWU, arguably the most progressive union in 1960s America. The San Francisco Bay Area branch, Local 10, was the largest and most radical in the ILWU, counting over 4,000 members in the mid 1960s, about half of who were African Americans. In 1967, for the first time, Local 10 elected a black man, Cleophas Williams, as president.

The ILWU, since its founding and victorious “Big Strike” in 1934, had committed itself to racial integration. San Francisco longshoreman and Australian immigrant Harry Bridges emerged at this moment to lead dockworkers along the entire West Coast. Why did Bridges and other San Francisco longshoremen—in 1934 nearly all white—reach out to African American workers and the larger black community? Pragmatism, for one, as employers frequently hired black workers as replacements. Blacks felt little remorse for doing so since nearly all unions in America were patently racist. Better to bring black workers into the fold, the San Francisco longshoremen thought, than “let” them become strikebreakers. But this logic had not convinced most unions before the 1930s to embrace African Americans (or immigrants or women).

Bridges and many in the ILWU also were ideologically committed to racial inclusion because of  their socialist values. Some were Communists, others were Wobblies. Bridges and other leftist longshoremen saw all workers—regardless of race—as members of a single class, the working class, who shared a common enemy: employers.

In San Francisco, radical white unionists actively lined up black dockworkers and promoted racial equality. Williams, an African American from rural Arkansas who found his way to the San Francisco docks during World War II, recently told me, “Those [whites] who were more active in expressing concern [for African Americans], I later found out, were considered to be left-wingers. They were the ones who would come over and speak to you.”

Williams also recalled Bridges’ famous claim that, if there were only two longshoremen left, he would prefer one to be black. Williams found it “very shocking to me because there was no political gain for him by making this statement,” when whites made up the vast majority of longshoremen and in a nation where white supremacy reigned supreme. He continued to historical sociologist Howard Kimeldorf, “I had read and been exposed to some of the left-wing forces, but I had never heard anyone [white] put his neck out on the chopping block by making a public statement of this kind.”

Black and white longshoremen, Local 10, and their International did not stop at integrating their own ranks, they also became deeply involved in countless, related struggles for social justice including: The ILWU condemned the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII; participated in the first major protest against domestic anti-communism in 1960 at San Francisco’s City Hall; helped organize a massive civil rights march in solidarity with the civil rights movement in Birmingham in 1963; built the first privately financed, integrated and affordable housing development in SF; criticized the U.S. war in Vietnam; actively supported to the Pan-Indian occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969; and supported, financially and through boycotts, the efforts of California farm workers, heavily Latino and Filipino, to organize the United Farm Workers (UFW). San Francisco longshore workers and their union helped lead Bay Area social movements in a pivotal time in U.S. History.

For these reasons and more, the ILWU can be described as a civil rights union, one of a handful of unions that had integrated their own ranks and fought for racial equality. The politics and history of the ILWU explains why King traveled to San Francisco in 1967.

Addressing a large gathering at Local 10’s hall, King declared, “I don’t feel like a stranger here in the midst of the ILWU. We have been strengthened and energized by the support you have given to our struggles. …We’ve learned from labor the meaning of power.”

More than 40 years later, Williams described King’s speech to me: “He talked about the economics of discrimination.” Williams pointed out that, “What [King] said is what Bridges had been saying all along,” namely all workers benefit by eradicating racism. That day, ILWU Local 10 made King an honorary member, joining Paul Robeson who, earlier, had earned this honor.

Want to fight racism? Join a union

King’s support for unionism expanded greatly in his final years. After the legal dismantling of Jim Crow, King—by then the most influential social movement leader of his generation—devoted increasing energy to promoting unions and opposing the war in Vietnam. Alas, he was cut down just as had launched the interracial Poor People’s Campaign.
Traditionally when someone dies on the waterfront, longshore workers stop work for the rest of the shift to honor the fallen. And, so, when word spread of King’s murder, Local 10 shut down the ports of the San Francisco Bay.

More recently, Local 10 rank-and-filers shut down the Port of Oakland on another April 4. That day, in 2011, dockworkers protested Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who had just rammed through a controversial bill stripping public sector workers of many of their rights. While the union’s elected leaders officially disavowed this action, ordinary longshore workers appreciated that so-called “right to work” laws were an attack on unions everywhere, so they put down their tools.

Forty-eight years after King’s death, unions are weaker than they have been since the Great Depression. But they remain a potent method to reduce black poverty. The huge economic benefits that unions afford their millions of members, uplifting them into the middle class, cannot be ignored.

Those concerned with racism, poverty and economic inequality should appreciate that unions are among the most effective means to attack these evils simultaneously. King understood this reality, which was why he crisscrossed the nation collaborating with unions, including ILWU Local 10, to fight white supremacy. Today, as we commemorate the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., the best way to honor his legacy is to join or organize a union.

Honoring Darnell Simmons

Please check out this video on youtube, it is a moving tribute to our fallen brother Darnell Simmons a 20 year LiUNA Local 1001 member. We would like to thank all of the brothers and sisters who participated in this tribute on Friday afternoon and Commissioners John Tully and Tommie Johnson for their help in making this happen.

Both this video and the one Honoring our other fallen brother Terrell Jones are in the video section of our app.

Arrangements for Darnell Simmons Sr.

Services for Darnell Simmons Sr.

Visitation Service 

Friday, March 23, 2018

4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Johnson Funeral Home

5838 West Division St. Chicago, IL 60651

Funeral Service

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Wake: 10:00 am   Funeral: 11:00 am

Holy Starlight MBC

3506 West Cermak Road, Chicago, IL 60623


Mount Greenwood West Memorial Gardens

8301 Kean Ave. Willow Springs, IL 60480


Following Internment

Holy Starlight MBC

3506 West Cermak Road, Chicago, IL 60623

Arrangements for Terrell Jones

The arrangements for our Terrell Jones is as follows:

Visitation will be Friday, 3-23-18, from 3-7pm at

Midwest Memorial Chappel

5040 S. Western, chgo, Il 60609.

The funeral will be on Saturday, 3-24-18

Antioch Church

6248 S. Stewart, chgo, Il 60621

Wake from 10am-11am. Funeral from 11am-12pm.

Repast will also be at the church following the burial.

Thank You

On behalf of everyone here at LiUNA Local 1001 we would like to join with the Chicago Laborers’ District Council in thanking all of you for your hard work and support in making this primary election such a huge success.

Thank You

It’s Time to Vote

OK, its almost quitting time so make sure you VOTE!

This election will shape our state and our nation for the future of labor. This election is too important to stand by, your vote counts more than ever.

The people we elect today will have a direct effect on our pay, benefits and working conditions for years to come.


Here is the complete list of LiUNA Endorsed Candidates. 

Here is a polling place locator for the City of Chicago. 

Honoring Terrell Jones

Yesterday without any fan fare brothers and sisters from the City of Chicago, Bureau of Forestry honored their fallen brother Terrell Jones by forming a procession of equipement to make a final pass at his home.

This is what family is all about, this is what Union is all about, please watch and share this video in honor of our brother Terrell.

We would also like to thank Commissioners Tully and Whiteside for making this happen.

The video may take a moment to load but believe me it’s worth every second.

Weekend violence in Chicago claims lives of 2 city workers in separate attacks

By Elvia Malagon, Elyssa Cherney – Chicago Tribune

Darnell Simmons, a longtime city worker, was walking out of a West Side store with his teenage son and another boy when gunfire erupted.

Simmons pushed his son out of the way and then fell to the ground, according to an account from the teen relayed through Simmons’ cousin, Dedrick Wilborn.

“He said he thought his daddy tripped,” Wilborn said Monday.

But Simmons, who police believe was not the intended target, had been hit by bullets in the chest and shoulder. He was later pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital.

The fatal shooting took place less than 24 hours after another city worker, Terrell Jones, was shot dead while riding in a Chevrolet Equinox with his cousin during an apparent road rage incident in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

The weekend shootings helped push the number of 2018 homicide victims to 100, according to data kept by the Tribune.

“These are the types of incidents that keep all of us up at night,” Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference Monday. “And I promise you, we’ll do everything that we can to bring these individuals responsible to justice.”

The city’s 100th homicide came just hours after Simmons was shot. A 36-year-old man was sitting in a car in the 5400 block of West Division Street when five people walked up and opened fire about 8:45 p.m. Sunday, police said.

The city recorded its 100th homicide of the calendar year in the final week of February in 2016 and 2017, according to data kept by the Tribune. At least 454 people have been shot in Chicago so far this year, a lower number than at this time in 2016 and 2017.

Simmons was shot at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the 300 block of North Central Avenue, about a mile away from where he lived, police said. He was on his way to take one of his two teenage sons to the airport, said Debra Wilborn, an aunt who helped raise Simmons. The teen, who lives in Texas, was visiting Simmons during his spring break.

The family thinks Simmons might have stopped at the store to buy a lottery ticket. Dedrick Wilborn got a frantic call from Simmons’ son and rushed to the scene. He tried to get to his cousin, but officers held him back from the ambulance.

“He wasn’t by himself, we loved him,” Dedrick Wilborn said.

Simmons worked for more than 20 years as a laborer for the Streets and Sanitation Department, according to Laborers Local 1001.

“Darnell worked, took care of his kids and played lottery,” Debra Wilborn said.

Jones, who was a member of the same union, was gunned down about 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the 4900 block of South Ashland Avenue.

A cousin, who also works for the city, was driving Jones home when they decided to take a shortcut down Ashland to avoid traffic on Interstate 290, said Ernest Leggs, Jones’ brother.

The men noticed a dark-colored SUV was following them. Two men got out of the SUV and opened fire, striking Jones multiple times, Chicago police said.

Jones was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His cousin, 27, was grazed on the right hand.

Chicago police characterized the shooting as a possible incident of road rage.

On Monday, the family announced a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Jones’ death, according to community activist Andrew Holmes.

“I just want people to know that this was senseless,” Leggs said. “And they need to turn themselves in or speak up. (The shooters) have ruined so many lives.”

Jones graduated from Harper High School, Leggs said, and, according to the union, he had worked for the city for about five years. He was married and had 3-year-old twins and a 9-year-old son.

Michelle Jones-Vincent, Jones’ mother, said her son often ran errands for relatives and was a family man whose children would run up to greet him when he got home. Leggs said his brother was looking forward to a raise at work and wanted to save up for a vacation to Disney World.

“I’m still in shock for him to be taken away,” Jones-Vincent said as she began crying. “This is not just no nobody.”

Two LiUNA Local 1001 Members Murdered Over the Weekend.

In two seperate shooting incidents over the weekend we tragically lost two of our union brothers.

In times like these there are no words that can explain or dull the pain that everyone is feeling from the loss of our brothers, Darnell Simmons and Terrell Jones.

As residents of the City of Chicago we have all experienced the senseless violence of our City first hand but when it hits this close to home there are no words to express our outrage and pain for the senseless murder of both of these good family men.

As Union brothers and sisters we have worked alongside them and know their dedication to their job, their union, and most of all their families.

As union brothers and sisters we morn the loss of Darnell and Terrell but we cannot imagine the pain their families are feeling at this moment.

We hope this to be of some comfort that they know as union members we are all family and when one of our own gets taken from us in such a horrific way that we all promise to never let our memories of them be tainted by these cowardly criminals.

We will send out further details as they become available and we ask each and every one of you, our brothers and sisters, to keep the families of Darnell and Terrell in your prayers.

Rest in peace brothers.

56 Tree Trimmer Positions are open for bid now!

After months of negotiations LiUNA Local is proud to announce the opening of 56 positions of Tree Trimmer to bid. We encourage ALL of our bargaining unit members to bid including all General Laborers who are currently working in Forestry. For more info check out the Jobs section of our app, our website or the City of Chicago website.



DEPARTMENT:  STREETS & SANITATION                               

Number of Positions: 56

The City of Chicago has partnered with the County, Municipal Employees’, Supervisors, and Foremen’s Union Local 1001 to establish a three (3) year in-house trainee program, equivalent to 6,240 hours of paid on-the-job training (OJT).

Class is a multi – rate title; rate of pay to individual positions is dependent on the number of hours completed.

Under immediate supervision, performs tree maintenance activities including tree trimming and tree removal, and performs tree related duties as required.

Unposting Date: Mar 30, 2018, 11:59:00 PM

You must watch this!

Even if you are not a Bernie Sanders fan, even if you think afscme is another union and has nothing to do with you, please take a few minutes to watch and listen to this video.

it may take a bit to load but it is worth the wait. 

International Women’s Day 2018

Happy International Women’s Day, to all of the hard working women of LiUNA Local 1001 and all of our sisters of LiUNA!

Founded more than a century ago after some 15,000 women marched in New York City to demand better working conditions and voting rights. The current iteration of the day is intended to celebrate women’s social, economic, and political achievements and to call for gender equality.


Early Voting Begins March 5, 2018

Early Voting Begins on March 5, 2018. This may be one of the most important elections you ever vote in “for yourself”. That’s right, if we do not come out to vote in this upcoming election there is no one to blame for what can happen to your Union, your career, or for that matter your future. Yes you have heard it all before but with the Janus Supreme Court decision just around the corner, a Union friendly Springfield may be the only thing that stands between us and Right to Work across all of Illinois. Please take the time to vote, the future of organized labor as we know it depends on it.

In-Person Early Voting & Registration

For the March 20 Primary Election, Chicago voters will be able to use Early Voting & Registration from Feb. 21 through March 19.

Ballots cast in Early Voting are final. After casting ballots in Early Voting, voters may not return to amend, change or undo a ballot for any reason. It is a felony to vote more than once — or to attempt to vote more than once — in the same election.

Government-issued photo ID is not required but is helpful if there is a question about the voter’s registration, address, signature or if there are two voters with the same or similar names at the same address.

Registration services are available at Early Voting sites. NOTE: Any voter who needs to register for the first time or file an address update or a name change must show two forms of ID, one of which shows the voter’s current address.

Locations & Hours

March 5 thru March 19 – Early Voting & Registration at all 51 locations listed below
Mon., March 5 – Sat., March 10: 9 am-5 pm
Sun., March 11: 10 am-4 pm
Mon., March 12 – Fri., March 16: 9 am-7 pm
Sat., March 17: 9 am-5 pm
Sun., March 18: 10 am-4 pm
Mon., March 19: 9 am-5 pm (On March 19, six “permanent sites” will remain open thru 7 pm.)

Loop Super Site/Election Board Annex  (NEW LOCATION) 16 W Adams (On March 19, this site will remain open thru 7 pm.)
Ward 1    Goldblatt’s Bldg     1615 W Chicago
Ward 2    Near North Library    310 W Division
Ward 3    Hall Branch Library    4801 S Michigan
Ward 4    King Community Ctr.    4314 S Cottage Grove (On March 19, this site will remain open thru 7 pm.)
Ward 5    Jackson Park    6401 S Stony Island
Ward 6    Dist. 3 Police Station    7040 S Cottage Grove
Ward 7    Jeffrey Manor Library    2401 E 100th St
Ward 8    Olive Harvey College    10001 S Woodlawn
Ward 9    Palmer Park    201 E 111th St
Ward 10    Vodak/Eastside Library    3710 E 106th St
Ward 11    Dist. 9 Police Station    3120 S Halsted
Ward 12    McKinley Park    2210 W Pershing
Ward 13    West Lawn Park    4233 W 65th St
Ward 14    Archer Heights Library    5055 S Archer
Ward 15    Gage Park    2411 W 55th St
Ward 16    Lindbloom Park    6054 S Damen
Ward 17    Thurgood Marshall Library    7506 S Racine
Ward 18    Wrightwood Ashburn Library    8530 S Kedzie
Ward 19    Mount Greenwood Park    3721 W 111th St (On March 19, this site will remain open thru 7 pm.)
Ward 20    Bessie Coleman Library    731 E 63rd St
Ward 21    Foster Park    1440 W 84th St
Ward 22    Toman Library    2708 S Pulaski
Ward 23    Clearing Branch Library    6423 W 63rd Pl
Ward 24    St. Agatha Parish    3147 W Douglas Blvd
Ward 25    Chinatown Library    2100 S Wentworth
Ward 26    Humboldt Pk Library    1605 N Troy
Ward 27    Union Park    1501 W Randolph
Ward 28    W. Side Learning Ctr    4624 W Madison  (On March 19, this site will remain open thru 7 pm.)
Ward 29    Amundsen Park    6200 W Bloomingdale
Ward 30    Kilbourn Park    3501 N Kilbourn
Ward 31    Portage Cragin Library    5108 W Belmont
Ward 32    Bucktown-Wicker Park Library    1701 N Milwaukee
Ward 33    McFetridge Sports Ctr    3843 N California
Ward 34    W Pullman Library    830 W 119th
Ward 35    NEIU El Centro    3390 N Avondale
Ward 36    West Belmont Library    3104 N Narragansett
Ward 37    West Chicago Av Library    4856 W Chicago
Ward 38    Hiawatha Park    8029 W Forest Preserve
Ward 39    North Park Vill. Admin.    5801 N Pulaski
Ward 40    Budlong Woods Library    5630 N Lincoln
Ward 41    Roden Library    6083 N Northwest Highway (On March 19, this site will remain open thru 7 pm.)
Ward 42    Museum/Brdcst Communications    360 N State
Ward 43    Lincoln Park Library    1150 W Fullerton
Ward 44    John Merlo Library    644 W Belmont
Ward 45    Dist. 16 Police Station    5151 N Milwaukee
Ward 46    Truman College    1145 W Wilson
Ward 47    Welles Park    2333 W Sunnyside (On March 19, this site will remain open thru 7 pm.)
Ward 48    Edgewater Library    6000 N Broadway
Ward 49    Pottawattomie Park    7340 N Rogers
Ward 50    Warren Park    6601 N Western

University Early Voting – To be open March 14-16, 10 am-5 pm
Chicago State Univ.    9501 S M L King Dr
UIC Student Center    750 S Halsted
Northeastern Ill. Univ.    5500 N St Louis

Laborers’ Battle Potholes

Members of LiUNA Local 1001 keep the City of Chicago moving. With weather changes comes potholes and the members of Local 1001 are tasked with making sure the streets of the City of Chicago are patched and safe for vehicles. And we are proud to say that every man and woman repairing those holes are members of LiUNA Local 1001. This year has been especially challenging but as Laborers’ always do, we get the job done. In a little over just 60 days of 2018 the crews have filled over 100,000 potholes. We want to thank all of them for their hard work in the worst of weather conditions and keep up the great work everyone!

Mayor Rahm Emanuel visiting with members filling potholes

Congratulations and Welcome!


We would like to congratulate and welcome today’s graduating class of General Laborers to LiUNA Local 1001. You are now part of the greatest organization in labor and we are happy that you will be part of the history of this great Union for years to come.

LiUNA Feel the Power!


Remember your rights!

All members have these same rights, including General Laborers. No matter what you have been told or what you heard, you have the right to have a Union Representative with you before answering any questions that may lead to discipline. No matter who is asking the question, no matter where or when you are being questioned.

Call the Union 312.226.1001


Thanks to Everyone who came out today!

What a great crowd, we would like to thank all of our members who came out on Saturday morning to help support the Working People’s Day of Action. And especially to recognize one of the guest speakers, our very own Tommy Chirillo. With over 150 Laborers in the Daley Plaza Tommy gave an arousing speach to the crowd. We were proud to stand with him as Laborers’ and what the Labor Movement stands for. With the support of the Chicago Laborers District Council, the multitude of Laborers’ Local’s including our brothers and sisters of Local 1092, GROC and the LiUNA Regional Office, we were by far the best represented Union in the entire plaza. The sea of LiUNA orange stood out and we are proud of everyone who came out to make it possible.

Full Video of Tommy’s Speach. Feel the Power!


Job Bid Announcement – District Supervisor Graffiti Removal Services

Go to our Jobs section on the Local 1001 app for more details and a link to apply.


Job Number:305054


These positions are open to all current city employees covered under the terms of the City’s collective bargaining agreement with LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA 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 work crews and coordinates and directs graffiti removal operations within an assigned district, and performs related duties as required


  • Assigns and directs various work crews of laborers, hoisting engineers and painters engaged in using mechanical sprayers and related tools to paint over graffiti or chemical power washing and/or operating soda blasting equipment for the removal of graffiti
  • Plans and schedules the use of work crews using specialized chemicals and materials for the removal of graffiti from specific surface types
  • Reviews computerized service request and makes daily work assignments to crews, prioritizing and scheduling graffiti removal services to maximize efficiency of operations
  • Authorizes the requisitioning of needed materials, supplies and equipment to ensure trucks are properly equipped for crews to complete job assignments
  • Oversees and directs the training of staff in the proper and safe use of graffiti removal tools and equipment and the proper cleaning and maintenance of equipment and vehicles
  • Drives a vehicle to inspect work completed or in progress, monitor individual crew productivity and ensure that proper work methods and safety procedures are followed
  • Inspects buildings and structures to assess extent of graffiti and whether available resources and equipmen can access and/or remove graffiti; confers with property managers and owners to explain city’s graffiti removal methods and to schedule graffiti removal services
  • Prepares various management reports on work operations including program initiatives, number of jobs completed, work crew productivity levels, and materials and supplies used
  • Coordinates work efforts with management to plan new initiatives and to effectively respond to emergency or high priority requests for graffiti removal services in the district
  • Schedules and conducts safety meeting with district staff as required; prepares and signs off on injury and accident reports
  • Monitors subordinates work performance and initiates and enforces disciplinary action as required
  • Uses bolt cutters to cut locks and gain access to areas to remove graffiti as required
  • Maintains vacation schedules, and monitors reports for absenteeism

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.

  Location:   Varies

  Hours:  6:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Monday – Friday



Five years of work experience in the areas of graffiti removal, sanitation or street operations; A valid State of Illinois driver’s license is required

Janus and fair share fees

Economic Policy Institute

The organizations financing the attack on unions’ ability to represent workers

Report • By Celine McNicholas, Zane Mokhiber, and Marni von Wilpert • February 21, 2018


Over the last decade, a number of cases attacking the rights of public-sector union members have been quietly working their way through the courts and, finally, up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The most recent of these challenges is Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear on February 26. If the court rules for Janus, it will likely have the most significant impact on workers’ freedom to organize and bargain collectively in 70 years.

Janus is the third case to come before the Supreme Court in five years involving public-sector unions’ ability to collect “fair share” (or “agency”) fees. As this report will show, Janus, and the two fair share cases that preceded it, did not grow from an organic, grassroots challenge to union representation. Rather, the fair share cases are being financed by a small group of foundations with ties to the largest and most powerful corporate lobbies. These organizations and the policymakers they support have succeeded in advancing a policy agenda that weakens the bargaining power of workers. In Janus, these interests have focused their attack on public-sector workers—the workforce with the highest union density.

We examine the core group of organizations financing this litigation. By tracing the origins of these legal challenges, and explaining how the challenges target unions, we show that challenging fair share fees in the courts appears to be part of a broader billionaire-financed agenda to weaken unions and shift power away from ordinary workers.

What are fair share fees and why are they critical for union existence?

Collective bargaining is the process by which workers join together to negotiate with employers for better pay and safer working conditions. Under federal law, no one can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. Workers who choose not to join their workplace’s union—but are covered by the union’s collective-bargaining agreement—do not pay union dues; instead they pay “fair share” fees to cover the basic costs that the union incurs representing them.1 Because unions are legally required to represent all employees in a bargaining unit, not just union members, fair share fees are crucial to the work of collective bargaining. Stripping unions of their ability to collect these fees would encourage workers to access the benefits of union representation without paying for these benefits.2 In this way, eliminating fair share fees defunds unions and goes a long way toward stripping workers of their ability to organize and bargain collectively.

How fair share fees work

Just like in any democratic institution, when a majority of employees in a bargaining unit choose to be represented by a union, the union then becomes the exclusive bargaining representative of all workers in the unit. The union has a responsibility to represent all workers in the unit, union members and employees who decide not to join the union alike, and the employer has a duty to bargain with the union over employees’ wages and working conditions. Unions may bargain to include union security agreements, which allow them to collect fair share fees (also known as “agency” fees) from employees who do not join the union but are part of the bargaining unit (employees in a bargaining unit but not union members are referred to as nonmembers). Nonmembers’ fair share fees cover the union’s expenses related to collective bargaining and contract administration, but not expenses for political or ideological advocacy. These fair share or agency fees ensure that every employee represented by the union simply pays her fair share of the cost of representation. The fees are calculated as a percentage of union dues. Fair share fees can only fund activities related to collective bargaining and contract administration and are expressly prohibited from funding the union’s political advocacy.

How fair share fees prevent “free riding”

A union is required to represent a nonmember worker who is mistreated by the employer as the nonmember pursues a costly grievance process, even if it costs the union tens of thousands of dollars. Fair share fees enable the union to charge nonmember workers for the right to access that service if they need it. Without the ability to collect fair share fees, the nonmember worker could access these expensive representation services without having paid a dime.

Workers who choose not to pay union dues also receive the higher wages and benefits that the union negotiates on behalf of its members. Eliminating fair share fees encourages “free riding”: workers paying union dues see coworkers who are paying nothing but getting the same benefits, and they decide to leave the union and stop paying union dues. Public-sector unions have worked for decades to protect the rights of the teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants that communities depend on. Taking away unions’ ability to collect fair share fees—while they are nonetheless required to provide services and representation to nonmembers—would threaten the very existence of unions by weakening their financial stability.

The possibility that workers could decide not to pay for the union benefits they receive if fair share fees are outlawed does not mean that they do not value these benefits. This proposition was explained in an amici curiae brief to assist the Supreme Court in understanding the free-rider problem at issue in Janus v. AFSCME, which was signed by 36 distinguished economists and professors of economics and law, including three Nobel laureates. The scholars explained that the free-rider problem is a well-established concept in economics. In particular, the brief shows it is widely accepted that if an individual chooses not to pay for a resource provided to him or her for free, it does not mean the individual does not value the resource, and that when individuals who benefit from a resource do not pay for it, the resource will be underprovided.3

For example, as the brief points out, a recent union recertification election in Iowa revealed that a majority of workers in the bargaining unit voted in favor of continuing to be represented by the union, even though most of them also opted out of paying fair share fees. A recent change in Iowa state law requires public-sector unions to hold a vote and be recertified before each new contract negotiation, and recertification requires not just a majority of those voting but a majority of all workers covered by the collective-bargaining agreement—union members and nonmembers alike. Since Iowa state law already prohibits fair share fees in public-sector unions, the nonmembers are not required to pay fair share fees, even though they are covered by and benefit from the union’s contract.4

In October 2017, the election results for AFSCME Iowa Council 61 revealed that 83 percent of all employees covered by the union’s collective-bargaining agreements voted in favor of recertifying the union.5 Only 15 percent of the workers failed to vote, and only 2 percent voted against the union. Yet a mere 29 percent of workers who are union members pay all of the costs of the union’s collective bargaining—despite the fact that the vast majority of employees agree they benefit from, and affirmatively voted for the union. The remaining 71 percent of the workers in the bargaining unit are free riders, in that they are covered by the union contract but are nonmembers and do not pay any fair share fees because Iowa’s law prohibiting fair share fees allows people to obtain the benefits without paying for them.6

A brief history of fair-share-fees cases before the Supreme Court

Constitutional challenges to fair share fees in the public sector involve the following argument: “Requiring the payment of fair share fees by nonmember objectors is a violation of the objectors’ First Amendment rights.” Yet the practice of collecting fair share fees has survived decades of legal challenges. More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that fair share fees could be collected from public-sector workers. It was the first Supreme Court case upholding fair share fees.7 The court stated in Abood that any minor infringement of nonmember objectors’ free speech interests posed by agency fees was justified by the state’s legitimate interest in preventing free riders from undermining a union’s ability to represent the bargaining unit. Still, anti-union organizations have continued to litigate various aspects of fair share fees including which expenses are related to collective bargaining and thus chargeable to nonmembers. These organizations have picked at the seams of Abood for decades in an attempt to weaken the ability of unions to collect fair share fees. However, these legal challenges have gained new momentum over the last decade as an increasingly corporate-friendly Supreme Court has signaled a willingness to overturn Abood.

Abood affirmed the constitutionality of fair share fees

In Abood, the Supreme Court held that collecting fair share fees from public-sector employees to cover the costs of collective bargaining does not violate the First Amendment rights of public-sector employees. As the court explained, “Public employees are not basically different from private employees; on the whole, they have the same sort of skills, the same needs, and seek the same advantages.” Further, the court noted, “A public employee who believes that a union representing him is urging a course that is unwise as a matter of public policy is not barred from expressing his viewpoint. Besides voting in accordance with his convictions, every public employee is largely free to express his views, in public or private orally or in writing.”8

In fact, that same term, the Supreme Court held in Madison School Dist. v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Comm’n that “the First and Fourteenth Amendments protect the right of a public school teacher to oppose, at a public school board meeting, a position advanced by the teachers’ union.” The court, therefore, “recognized that the principle of exclusivity cannot constitutionally be used to muzzle a public employee who, like any other citizen, might wish to express his view about governmental decisions concerning labor relations.”9

However, the court in Abood also noted, “Equally clear is the proposition that a government may not require an individual to relinquish rights guaranteed him by the First Amendment as a condition of public employment.” Therefore, to address the plaintiffs’ concerns that their union dues were being used to support the union’s political activities with which they disagreed, the court struck a careful balance—one that has been in place for over 40 years—requiring the union to separate fair share fees used for collective bargaining from the portion of union dues used “for the expression of political views, on behalf of political candidates, or toward the advancement of other ideological causes not germane to its duties as collective-bargaining representative.”10

Harris v. Quinn: First strike against fair share fees

In 2012, the first case to “pick at the seams” of Abood was Knox v. SEIU, a case challenging the procedures by which a union notifies nonmembers of the fair share fee calculations.11 While the plaintiffs in Knox did not directly challenge the constitutionality of fair share fees, Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion characterized the constitutional justification for public-sector agency fees as “something of an anomaly.” Many observers considered this an invitation to argue for overturning Abood.

The first case in which corporate-backed plaintiffs took up that invitation was Harris v. Quinn.12 The case involved home care workers in Illinois. These workers were employed by the individual clients for whom they provided in-home care, but were only eligible for employment if they met the state’s basic qualifications, and were paid through state Medicaid funds. As state employees for the purposes of collective bargaining, the home-care workers elected the Service Employees International Union, Healthcare Illinois and Indiana (SEIU-HII) as their exclusive bargaining representative. The union represented the workers in collective bargaining, resulting in a contract that nearly doubled their wages, provided them with health insurance, and included training and workplace safety provisions.13 The contract also included a security agreement that required workers, including those who chose not to become members of the union, to pay a fair share fee.

In 2010, home health care worker Pamela Harris, represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, sued then-Illinois Governor Pat Quinn arguing that the fair share fee arrangement violated her First Amendment rights. A federal district court found such fair share fee arrangements constitutional under “longstanding Supreme Court precedent.”14 The plaintiffs appealed to the Seventh Circuit, which affirmed the district court’s decision in part. The Seventh Circuit relied on the Supreme Court’s longstanding precedent in Abood in upholding the constitutionality of fair share fee arrangements in the public sector, and determined that the only question in the case was whether home care workers were state employees.15 The court held that, given the state’s control over home care workers, they were state employees and, therefore, could appropriately be required to pay a fair share fee to the union representing them in contract negotiation and administration.16

The Supreme Court heard the case in 2014. The Supreme Court in Harris found that the home care workers were not “full-fledged” public employees. The court reasoned that because patients/clients had supervisory authority over home health workers, the state did not sufficiently govern their employment to make them state employees. The court then considered if fair share fee arrangements covering a special class of partial–public employees “serves a compelling state interest that cannot be achieved through means significantly less restrictive of associational freedoms.”17 The majority concluded that it did not and found that fair share fees violated the nonmembers’ First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court did not overrule Abood, instead it decided that Abood’s precedent regarding public-sector fair share fees in collective bargaining did not apply because the home care workers were not truly public employees. However, Justice Samuel Alito, again writing for the majority as he had in Knox, indicated his willingness to overturn Abood if the right case came along in the future.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association: Second strike

In April of 2014, Rebecca Friedrichs along with nine other public school teachers, represented by the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), filed suit against the California Teachers Association in a case that directly challenged Abood: they argued that the public-sector union’s fair share fee arrangement violated their First Amendment rights.18 They also argued that, if agency fees are allowable, the First Amendment requires that members opt in to pay dues as opposed to providing that nonmembers may opt out of paying dues.

While it is well-established that fair share fees can only fund activities related to collective bargaining and contract administration and are expressly prohibited from funding the union’s political advocacy, the Friedrichs plaintiffs argued that public-sector collective bargaining itself involves political speech because the subjects of collective bargaining in this context (public school teacher pay, benefits, and working conditions) are matters of public concern. The plaintiffs failed to point to a specific provision of a collective-bargaining agreement that they found objectionable, but instead focused their argument on sweeping generalizations about public-sector collective-bargaining agreements. Basically, they argued that as public employees, the terms and conditions of their employment are inherently political decisions. As explained earlier, this argument is not new, it was already dealt with and disposed of 40 years ago in the Supreme Court’s decision in Abood.19

Knowing that their arguments about the First Amendment had already been asked and answered in Abood, CIR filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in favor of the union because the plaintiff’s claims were “foreclosed” by Abood. In other words, CIR asked the court to skip calling witnesses, taking testimony, and conducting discovery and review of documents and instead rule in favor of the union based solely on the precedent in Abood.

Why would CIR ask a lower court to rule against the plaintiffs? Because its strategy was to rush the case through the lower courts and produce little by way of a factual record. The lack of a trial record deprived the union of the opportunity to introduce evidence demonstrating the importance of fair share fees to the union’s ability to collectively bargain and enforce the contract. The union asked the court for the opportunity to develop a factual record in Friedrichs, well aware that the court in Harris essentially said that a union must prove that fair share fees are necessary, which involves evidence of the effect of the free-rider problem. CIR opposed that request. As the case was controlled by Abood, the trial court ruled on the pleadings alone, foreclosing the union from introducing information that would demonstrate the necessity of fair share fees. The plaintiffs then appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed the district court’s ruling. Friedrichs then petitioned the Supreme Court for review, which it granted on June 30, 2015.

Friedrichs quickly made it to the Supreme Court. The oral argument was held on January 11, 2016. Following the oral argument, many observers predicted that the court was likely to overturn Abood. However, Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on February 13, 2016, left the court without the five votes necessary to overturn Abood. So, on March 29, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in the case. The tie decision left the door open to continue the attack on fair share fees.

Janus v. AFSCME District Council 31: Third strike

On February 9, 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued an executive orderinstructing all state agencies to stop enforcing fair share union contract provisions and required that all such deductions be placed into an escrow account instead of being turned over to unions representing those workers.20 That same day, Governor Rauner filed suit in district court challenging the constitutionality of public-sector unions’ collection of fair share fees from nonmembers. The unions moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and standing. While those motions were pending, Mark Janus and two other state employees filed a motion to intervene in the case. On May 19, 2015, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman ruled that Governor Rauner did not have standing to file suit and granted Janus permission to intervene.

The plaintiffs in Janus are attempting to pick up where Friedrichs left off, and are making the same argument that was addressed over 40 years ago in Abood. As in other cases challenging the collection of fair share fees, the plaintiffs in Janus have acknowledged that they could not prevail in the district or appellate court, which are bound by the Supreme Court precedent in Abood. As a result, the case has been rushed through the courts. On June 6, 2017, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the case (a document filed by the losing party in a case asking the Supreme Court to review the decision of a lower court). The Supreme Court granted the petition on September, 28, 2017, and will hear oral arguments in the case on February 26, 2018.21

Who is behind the fair share cases?

Litigating a case all the way to the United States Supreme Court is expensive: years of attorneys’ fees, court costs, and trial expenses add up. How is it that a few public-sector employees who seek to challenge union representation are able to shoulder these costs? The plaintiffs in Harris, Friedrichs, and Janus have all been represented by wealthy legal foundations, providing pro bono representation in each of these cases.

Donor public financial disclosures

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires nonprofit organizations to file a federal tax form known as the 990. These forms contain detailed information on a nonprofit’s finances, including how much top employees are paid, how much money they received in contributions, their assets and liabilities, and other information that help shed light on the organization’s priorities.22 Nonprofit organizations generally also must document and include every donation they received, including the donor’s name and address, on Schedule B of the Form 990. However, while most of the completed Form 990 is publically available, Schedule B is exempt from this public disclosure requirement to protect the privacy of donors.23 A sample 990 can be found as Exhibit A1 in the appendix.

However, a separate schedule of the Form 990, Schedule I, requires a nonprofit organization to list any grants distributed to other organizations, and this is made publically available upon request. Therefore, it is possible, although very time consuming, to map the portion of a specific nonprofit’s revenue that came from contributions from other nonprofits by searching through all of the Schedule I’s that exist. The American Bridge 21st Century Foundation uses IRS filings to track the financial ties of conservative nonprofit organizations and makes this information available online in Conservative Transparency, a searchable database of this information. The organization examines and aggregates donations, providing information on the financial backers of the largest and most powerful corporate foundations.

We used information from the Conservative Transparency database as well as data made publically available by the IRS to create a database of financial transactions of organizations involved in the cases involving a challenge to fair share fee collection. After reviewing over a thousand transactions in the database, it remains difficult to develop a clear picture of the complete financial landscape of these cases. What is clear is that a core group of foundations with ties to the largest and most powerful lobbies representing corporate interests have provided consistent financial support for the fair share fee cases.

Organizations litigating fair share fees and their donor foundations

The box below describes the main legal foundations involved in the Supreme Court litigation challenging fair share fees. In some instances, these foundations have participated in more than one case.

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF)

Represented the plaintiffs in Harris v. Quinn, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2014

Plaintiffs backed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation argued that fair share fee arrangements violated the Constitution. The NRTWLDF is the 501(c)(3) arm of the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC), a 501(c)(4) organization. The National Right to Work Committee is financed by business and conservative interests that seek to undercut private-sector unions by lobbying states to pass laws that ban any requirements that workers pay fair share fees. NRTWLDF has received funding from many foundations including Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation, Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking, and the Walton Family Foundation.24

Center for Individual Rights (CIR)

Represented the plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016

The CIR-backed plaintiffs argued that a public-sector union’s ability to collect fair share fees should be unconstitutional. This case was decided 4-4 because of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death halfway through the 2016 Supreme Court term. In the past, CIR was engaged primarily in litigation to limit environmental and health and safety regulations. As the organization’s budget has grown, it has become involved in litigation aimed at limiting workers’ rights. CIR has received funding from Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation. Most notably, CIR has received financial support from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which are donor-advised funds backed by Charles and David Koch (the Koch brothers), and from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.25

Liberty Justice Center and NRTWLDF

Represented the plaintiffs in Janus v. AFSCME, which will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court February 26, 2018

In this case, the plaintiffs are making the same anti-union argument that was put on hold in Friedrichs: that public-sector unions should not be able to cover the cost of representing and negotiating on behalf of nonmembers who benefit from the union’s representation. The Liberty Justice Center (LJC) is the legal arm of an Illinois-based conservative think tank called the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI). A review of LJC and IPI’s 990s provides a limited view of their financial profile, but it is clear that they survive off of the same core group of corporate-backed organizations that contribute to many political and legal fights against unions. Donors Trust, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation, Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking, and the Charles Koch Institute have supported the Illinois Policy Institute and Liberty Justice Center.26

A closer look at the donor organizations supporting the anti-union litigants in fair-share-fee cases

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Center for Individual Rights, and Liberty Justice Center are separate nonprofit organizations, but they share many of the same donors. The box below profiles a few of these organizations’ major donors, based on data found in their 990 filings.

Donors Trust/Donors Capital Fund

Donors Trust, headquartered in Virginia, is a tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 and is connected to Donors Capital Fund. Donors Trust is a donor-advised fund, which means that contributors to the fund can recommend how the money is allocated, but do not have final say. In return, contributors receive a bigger tax write-off than they would donating money to a family foundation and they preserve their anonymity. While most of the contributors to Donors Trust are unknown, Charles G. Koch, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation based in Milwaukee have reported contributions. Donors Trust contributes tens of millions of dollars annually to conservative think tanks and advocacy groups. These include The Heritage Foundation, The Federalist Society, and the National Rifle Association’s Freedom Action Fund, all in Washington, D.C.27

Sarah Scaife Foundation

The Sarah Scaife Foundation is the largest of three foundations that make up the Pittsburgh-based Scaife family foundations. Under the direction of the late Richard Mellon Scaife, heir to the fortune of Andrew Mellon, the Scaife foundations in the late 1960s started to direct the majority of their assets toward conservative causes. Scaife helped fund early operations of The Heritage Foundation and the Stanford, Ca.-, and Washington, D.C.-based Hoover Institution. The Sarah Scaife Foundation continues to support the major conservative think tanks. Other grantees of the Sarah Scaife Foundation include FreedomWorks, the tea party group backed by the circle of like-minded mega donors that make up the Koch network, the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, a Pennsylvania-based think tank associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network.28

Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation was founded in 1942, and became a major organization with a national impact following the 1985 acquisition of the Allen-Bradley company by Rockwell International, a Fortune 500 manufacturing company. This inflow of cash, along with the hiring of Michael Joyce of the conservative John M. Olin Foundation, turned Bradley from a locally focused philanthropic organization in Milwaukee to the nationally focused foundation it is today, granting around $40 million annually. Since 2011, the majority of grants from the Bradley Foundation have gone to conservative groups, conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation, and religious freedom groups.29

Ed Uihlein Family Foundation

The Ed Uihlein Family Foundation is run by businessman Richard Uihlein, the son of Ed (Edgar) Uihlien. Richard Uihlein is an influential player in Illinois and Wisconsin state politics. He donated $2.6 million to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s 2014 campaign, and another $2.5 million to the Unintimidated super PAC that backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign. The foundation also has given significant sums of money to the Illinois Policy Institute, whose legal arm, the Liberty Justice Center, is the main representative of the plaintiffs in Janus. The Uihlein family is also well connected to the Bradley family and the Bradley Foundation. David Uihlein Jr. served as vice chairman of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and his father served on the board of the Allen-Bradley company. 30

Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking

The foundation was founded by William A. Dunn in 1994 to advocate for and fund libertarian causes. William A. Dunn is the founder of Dunn Capital Management in Florida, which has over $1 billion in assets under management, and seems to be the main source of the foundation’s assets. The Dunns have given millions to the Institute for Justice, the Pacific Legal Foundation, and the Landmark Legal Foundation. Since 2000, the foundation has also given well over $60 million to conservative groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and the Reason Foundation.31

Table A1 in the appendix provides a somewhat more comprehensive breakdown of which entities are funding the organizations that are trying to outlaw mandatory fair share fees in the courts.

The link between anti–fair share and the broader attack on workers

Many of the organizations financing the legal challenges to workers’ rights have also been funding legislative battles focused on limiting workers’ rights.32 How do these groups benefit by limiting workers’ rights? Anti-worker policies shift a greater share of economic gains to corporate players and away from ordinary workers. This is evident in the relationship between declining union membership and rising inequality. As union membership has fallen over the last few decades, the share of income going to the top 10 percent has steadily increased. When union membership was at its peak (33.4 percent in 1945) the share of income going to the top 10 percent was only 32.6 percent. In 2015, union membership was 11.1 percent, while the share of income going to the top 10 percent was 47.8 percent—the largest share going to the top 10 percent since 1917 (the earliest year data are available).33 The erosion of collective bargaining is a core part of our nation’s problems of wage stagnation and rising inequality. Workers who are not in a union have much less power to negotiate with their employers for higher pay (or more hours, or better working conditions). Further, the erosion of union coverage hurts workers who aren’t in a union; research shows that when the share of workers who are union members falls, wages of nonunion workers are lower. For example, wages of nonunion male workers in 2013 would have been 5 percent higher (that’s an additional $2,704 in earnings for year-round workers) had union density remained at its 1979 levels.34

The decline in union membership rates does not reflect a declining desire to organize in the workplace and collectively bargain. In fact, surveys show that nearly half of nonunion, nonmanagerial workers would vote for union representation if they could.35 Furthermore, a majority of Americans support the right of workers to join a union.36

Their support for unions notwithstanding, fewer and fewer workers successfully form a union. And, when the majority of workers elect union representation, employers often refuse to bargain with workers or delay the bargaining process. In fact, a majority of newly organized bargaining units had no collective-bargaining agreement one year after the election and more than one-third still had no contract two years after workers elected to bargain. A driving factor behind these trends is an increasingly energized and well-funded campaign against workers’ rights. This campaign has occurred across all levels of government—federal, state, and local.37


The legal attack on public-sector unions “fair share” or “agency” fees poses the greatest immediate threat to workers’ meaningful participation in our democracy. If unions are prohibited from collecting fees from workers they are required to represent, they will be forced to operate with fewer and fewer resources. This will lead to reduced power—at the bargaining table and in the political process.

In a political system dominated by moneyed interests, workers are left with little power if they do not have an effective mechanism to pool their resources. It is profoundly undemocratic to elevate the objections of a minority over the democratically determined choices of the majority of workers. This principle is what is at stake in Janus. The decision in this case will determine the future of effective unions, democratic decision-making in the workplace, and the preservation of good, middle-class jobs in public employment.

A little reminder, we can use your help!

JB Pritzker’s campaign is having a weekend  of action, February 17th and 18th.  They need volunteers at all their campaign offices.  Getting Pritzker elected is key to holding on to our rights and benefits as Laborers. 

Please do all you can to get out and help the campaign on at least one of these dates.  You can choose any date, any location, and any shift, even an hour of your time can make a difference. 

In a time when Unions are under attack and especially Public Sector Unions like Local 1001, we need all the friends we can get in office.

Below is the schedule and locations:

 Saturday February 17/ Sunday February 18:

Shift 1 starts at 10:00AM

Shift 2 starts at 1:00PM

Shift 3 starts at 3:00PM


Chicago office locations:

11641 S. Halsted

1051 W. Belmont

4418 W. Diversey

5401 S. Wentworth

5130 N. Broadway

4728 W. Madison

7245 W. Dempster

Please call our office at 312.226.1001 and let us know if you, and or anyone you know can help.


LIUNA Makes Case for Collective Bargaining

The United States Supreme Court decision will directly effect every member of Local 1001. This case is not just about AFSCME or some other Union, it is about YOU. Please for your sake and the future of Public Employees everywhere take a minute to read what this could mean for all of us.

Janus is a Supreme Court case, which depending on how it’s decided could impact the collective bargaining rights of public employees. The case is backed by anti-union, anti-worker special interests whose aim is to destroy unions and make it impossible for working people to join together.

LIUNA, who proudly represents tens of thousands of dedicated, hard-working public employees, recently filed an amicus brief in support of collective bargaining. Oral arguments for Janus v. AFSCME are scheduled for February 28. Read LIUNA’s brief.

Will we be next?

This is the same guy who appointed the United States Supreme Court Justice who will decide the future of Public Employees, belonging to a Union, YOUR UNION, by the end of June 2018. It’s REAL, it HERE, and it’s time to get INVOLVED! 

Carrier worker: I was betrayed by Donald Trump

Renee Elliott, 44, addressed a news conference Jan. 10, a day before being laid off from her job at a Carrier factory in Indianapolis. She says President Trump broke his promise to American workers. (NOVA SAFO/Getty-AFP)

During the 2016 election, I went out in the rain to vote for Donald Trump. I believed him when he pledged to stop outsourcing and put working people first. I was heartened when he promised, on election night, to defend the “forgotten men and women of our country.”
Most of all, I believed him when he said he’d save my job at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis.
Last month, despite Trump’s promise, Carrier laid off another 215 employees and shifted their work to Mexico. I lost my job. As a result, I’m losing my health insurance, my retirement benefits and quite possibly my home.
Now, more than anything, I want Donald Trump to remember me. I feel betrayed, angry and forgotten — and I’m not alone. Nearly 100,000 American workers across the country lost their jobs to outsourcing during Trump’s first year in office. That number includes more than 10,000 who worked for federal contractors — a record.
Even though working people like me helped put Trump in the White House, the truth is that he’s done nothing to keep his promises to save American jobs.
Instead of punishing companies like Carrier that ship good jobs overseas, he’s rewarding them with federal tax dollars. Under the Trump administration, Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies Corp., received more than $1 billion in lucrative government contracts.
In fact, 56 of the 100 top federal contractors — companies like UTC, GE and GM — continue to offshore jobs. In return, they’ve been handed almost $21 billion from the Trump administration, according to a report from Good Jobs Nation.
It doesn’t have to be this way. President Trump could sign an executive order that prevents companies that send jobs overseas from being eligible for federal contracts. It’s that simple.
He can prove to me and the other workers at Carrier that he means what he says. He can show America’s working people that he cares about us and our families.
When Trump was elected, I was hopeful about the future. My son just returned safely from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Our family welcomed a new grandson to the world. I recovered from a spate of health problems. And I believed that my good union job was safe and secure.
But now, I’m scared about my future and that of my family.
I want Trump to remember me and all those voters he betrayed. I want him to know that he’s not making America great again for workers like me. And I want him to know that, next Election Day, I’m holding him accountable.

Renee Elliott, of Indianapolis, worked at Carrier from May 2013 to January 2018.

DSS Transfer Requests are now open…

Local 1001 has partnered with the City of Chicago to discontinue the tedious practice of DSS employees having to go to City Hall to have a transfer request accepted.

Beginning today, February 1, 2018, DSS will begin accepting ALL transfer requests via electronic submission. Transfers will be accepted via electronic submission only! 

The month long transfer period for DSS transfer requests is now open and will remain open through February 28, 2018. 

YOU MUST RESUBMIT any transfer request prior to February 1, 2018. 


The DSS transfer submission link should be readily available at your work site. The form can be accessed by computer and or any smart phone, and is also available on the Local 1001 app.

Click here to be taken to the DSS Transfer Submission Form.