Chicago Building Trades Labor Mass

Please join us in honoring the

deceased men and women of the building trades.

The Chicago & Cook County

Building & Construction Trades Council will host the

75th Annual All Faiths Memorial Service

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church

8404 Cass Avenue

Darien, IL

10:00 A.M.

Everyone is Welcome!

Public pension shocker: Shutting a pension plan actually costs taxpayers money – LA Times

Michael Hiltzik – LOS ANGELES TIMES

Amid the nationwide panic over the rising costs of public employee pensions, one proposed solution is nearly universal: States and municipalities should shutter their traditional defined benefit plans and place all new employees in a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan instead.

That’s the idea in a proposed California ballot initiative we reported on last week. The measure, which would end defined benefit plans for new employees as of Jan. 1, 2019, was praised by the Wall Street Journal as one that would “end defined-benefit pensions and save taxpayers billions of dollars.”

As it turns out, the Journal — and the drafters of the initiative — have the math exactly wrong. The experience of states that did exactly that shows that taking these steps sharply increases pension costs to taxpayers while providing employees with markedly poorer retirement benefits.
The evidence comes from a study by the National Institute on Retirement Security, whose board and advisors comprise officials of public pension agencies and leading academic experts on pension economics. The study examined the experience of West Virginia, Michigan and Alaska, each of which responded to rapidly rising unfunded liabilities in their defined benefit public pension funds by closing those plans and placing new employees in defined contribution plans. read more……

Chicago homeowners likely to pay for garbage pickup soon

Written by Fran Spielman – Chicago Sun-Times

Suburbanites have grown accustomed to paying a garbage-collection fee in addition to their property tax bill. It looks like Chicagoans will soon face a similar pain in the wallet.

One week after his budget team held closed-door meetings with aldermen, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is all but saying that a garbage-collection fee is coming to Chicago.

Struggling to solve a $30 billion pension crisis that has dropped the city’s bond rating to junk status, Emanuel needs $754 million in new revenue to balance his 2016 budget and shore up police and fire pensions, even under the best-case scenario. read more…..

Protect your paycheck and benefits, top the 40% health care tax

actionalert top.jpg

Dear Member,

You may not have heard of the 40% benefits tax, also known as the “Cadillac” tax, but it’s a penalty built into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that could affect your paycheck and health care benefits in 2018 if not sooner.  It’s urgent that Congress repeal this tax because it could destroy the health and welfare funds of millions of workers, including you and your LIUNA brothers and sisters.

Tell Congress there is nothing affordable about the 40% benefits tax on health care!

The tax was intended to discourage overly generous and unnecessary plans. But there are unintended consequences for all workers, with union members taking the brunt of it.

As insurance premiums continue to rise, many quality mid-range plans will be subject to the tax – unless benefits and the quality of care are slashed or the plans shut down entirely. Because LIUNA members and other union workers have struggled and sacrificed for years to build quality healthcare plans, ours plans could face cuts sooner rather than later.

Two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives– one championed by Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut and one by Republican Rep. Frank Guinta of New Hampshire – would repeal the tax. Let’s keep up the momentum by urging the Senate to repeal this harmful tax

The 40 percent benefits tax doesn’t reform healthcare, it punishes responsible employers and workers who for generations have paid for quality health care coverage. Employers are already considering ways to slash benefits to avoid the tax.

Members of Congress are back in their districts until the end of August and they need to hear from you on this critical issue. Send a message to your Senators and urge them to introduce legislation to repeal the taxSenator Heller (R- NV) is planning on introducing legislation early in September.  We need Democrats to show leadership and join him in introducing this important piece of legislation. 

The stakes are high for LIUNA families and millions of fellow workers. This tax threatens to unravel our nation’s employer-sponsored health system that covers 150 million Americans

With kind regards, I am

Fraternally yours,

General President 

Poll: Americans’ view of labor unions improving

Nearly six in 10 Americans have a favorable view of labor unions, according to the results of a new Gallup survey released Monday.

Approval of unions jumped to 58 percent this year, an increase of five percentage points from 2014, though still well below the 75 percent organized labor enjoyed in the early 1950s but greater than the 48 percent who approved in 2009 in the grips of the recession.

Property tax hike, garbage fee, congestion tax all on the table


Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) has suggested that Chicago follow the lead of nearly every suburb and start charging a monthly fee for garbage collection.

More recently, rookie Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) called it a “matter of fairness,” now that city pickups are ending for more than 1,800 multiunit residential buildings, but continuing for 600,000 households, including single-family homes and all residential units with up to four units.

Four years ago, Inspector General Joe Ferguson estimated that a volume-based, “pay-as-you-throw” garbage collection fee could generate as much as $125 million a year and that Chicago could raise an additional $18 million a year by imposing a blue cart recycling fee.

Emanuel ignored both ideas, apparently concerned it would be viewed as a backdoor property tax increase. But now that aldermen are warming to the idea, so is the mayor, sources said.

There has also been talk of raising revenue by allowing city crews to compete with private scavenger services for the business of collecting trash at multi-unit buildings.  read more…..

Rauner returns to anti-union basics:


If only public employees didn’t have the right to bargain with their local government employers over pay, benefits or anything else of importance, life would be fantastic again in Illinois.

Property taxes would plummet. Employers would again embrace Illinois as a great place to do business. Jobs would be plentiful.

That’s Gov. Bruce Rauner’s view of the world, which he doubled down on Monday by moving to the top of his agenda legislation that would strip teachers and other local government workers of their collective-bargaining rights.

Let me amend that. Although I think that’s a fair summary of what Rauner said, I believe his real world view is that taking away collective bargaining for local government employees would be just a first step toward his economic nirvana.  read more……

State of the union: NLRB reminds NU football players of their place


When Northwestern’s football players voted to unionize last year, it made national headlines. Imagine: athletes as workers, worthy of protection and financial benefits.

But now that the National Labor Relations Board has decided not to assert its jurisdiction in the players’ request for recognition as a union, it feels like naivety. We really thought a group of college kids could win against monoliths like the Big Ten, the NCAA and now even the NLRB, which is supposed to be in the business of fixing unfair labor practices?  read more…..

Congratulations to the new DSS General Laborer class

Congratulations to the new General Laborer class on your successful completion today, August 14, 2015, of the DSS training course at the Chicagoland Laborers’ Training Center.

On behalf of all of your brothers and sisters of LiUNA Laborers’ Local 1001 we welcome you to the family.

We are glad to have you aboard and hope you will succeed in your career as a member of our great Union.


NLRB ruling expected soon on NU players

If deemed school employees, they could form union

The National Labor Relations Board’s ruling over whether football players at Northwestern University are employees of the school is expected later this month.

The five-member board could affirm, modify or reverse a 2014 ruling by Peter Ohr, the regional director of the NLRB in Chicago, granting football players with scholarships employee status under federal law, which allowed them to form a union. read more…..

CPS reliance on $500M state bailout gives Rauner his opening

By Mark Brown  Chicago Sun-Times

If I were amember of a public employee union in Illinois, particularly a teacher, I’d be getting pretty nervous right about now. On Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner described himself as “cautiously optimistic” about a proposed Chicago Public Schools budget that relies on a $ 500 million bailout from the state to get through the school year.

During a news conference in Chicago, Rauner actually came across as even more enthusiastic than his “cautiously optimistic” assessment would indicate.

And by going the legislative route, Democrats could open the door to the same limits on collective bargaining rights of public employees that Rauner believes should be available to all local governments and school districts across the state.


How will Chicago’s retirees get paid if the pension funds dry up?

By John Schmidt – Chicago Tribune

Cook County Circuit Judge Rita Novak’s decision last month to throw out the law reforming two city of Chicago pension plans does not answer a central question: How will retired city workers get paid when the pension funds run out of money?

I say “when,” not “if.” Novak acknowledged the undisputed fact that under the law, without the reforms she threw out, the two pension funds will run out of money in 10 and 14 years, respectively. read more…..

Tell the DOL you support overtime protections

President Obama took a step to safeguard more working people’s time and money by directing the Department of Labor (DOL) to update the rules governing who’s eligible for overtime.

Before the rule is finalized, the DOL is looking for comments from people like us to hear how we feel about the new rule. We’ve already generated thousands of comments, and we need more before the comment period ends on Sept. 4.

The laws protecting workers’ time and money have been steadily eroding since before I was even born. Forty years of steadily rising costs and the poor decision making of previous administrations have left lots of today’s working folk struggling to make ends meet. But this is our chance to help turn all that around for millions of Americans.

Make sure the DOL hears from you and demand it strengthens overtime regulations for America’s working people now.

Click here now to tell the DOL you support strengthening overtime protections.  

Is it legal to be fired for online posts?

Labor board fights for employee right to discuss work conditions

Audelia Santiago’s photos of co-workers on her Facebook page prompted some snarky comments.

No big deal, right?

Tinley Park Hotel and Convention Center, where she worked as a banquet server, thought otherwise. Last year the convention center sacked her for violating employee handbook rules, including one against “disloyalty.”

Now Santiago could get her job back. In June, an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the convention center violated federal labor law by imposing “overly broad” employee handbook rules on Santiago and her coworkers. Those rules, the judge said, could “chill” workers from talking about their working conditions, which are protected under federal labor law.

The convention center, which can appeal the ruling, declined to comment through its attorney.

The case illustrates a growing trend of the NLRB forcing employers to revise employee handbooks for the digital age as people talk about their workplaces on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Workers’ rights are the same at the water cooler as they are on the Web,” said Jessica Kahanek, an NLRB spokeswoman.

Bryan O’Keefe, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who represents employers in labor disputes, said about a quarter of his caseload involves social media, work rules or disputes over activity protected under labor law. “This is a hot area,” he said.

The volume of cases, O’Keefe added, is frustrating for employers, which are having trouble keeping pace with employee handbook changes mandated by the NLRB.

Even employers that change their rules worry about getting dragged into costly legal battles, said Nancy Hammer, senior government affairs policy counsel at the Society for Human Resource Management. What’s more, she said, the law will evolve along with new types of social media. “This isn’t going away,” Hammer said.   read more….

Oreo plant cuts workers; activists’ boycott no treat

By Barbara Brotman – Chicago Tribune

So when veteran Chicago activist Marilyn Katz heard the recent announcement by Mondelez International that it was going to lay off half the 1,200 employees at its plant on the Southwest Side because it was investing instead in a new plant in Mexico….

But she was outraged, she said the other day, that Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld had made a decision that would eliminate 600 well-paying union jobs. And especially outraged, she said, because Rosenfeld’s compensation last year was $21 million.

“It just struck me as incredibly egregious,” she said.  read more…..

Illinois new normal: No budget, but none still flowing

The battle in Springfield, however, is only partly about budget numbers. Rauner wants lawmakers to take up his broader pro-business, anti-union policy agenda, and vetoed much of the budget to try to get some leverage. That is driving the stalemate.

“The budget piece of this is the easy part of the problem. That’s a math problem,” said Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont last month. “We need engagement on the reforms.” read more…..



Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner added his old friend, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to the list of Democrats that he says won’t compromise during the state’s budget stalemate.
“At this point Mayor Emanuel has made a number of requests of our administration and of the state government to assist the city of Chicago, and there’s not a single request that he’s made so far that we haven’t said that we are willing to pursue,” the governor said Thursday in Chicago.
But, Rauner said, “At this point the city of Chicago and the mayor have been unwilling to help us in our reform agenda to reform the state. And this has got to be a two way partnership. This has got to be mutual, effective reform. It can’t be one-way. And we can’t make requests upon the state of Illinois and state taxpayers to help Chicago if Chicago is unwilling to help the state help its taxpayers, help its school children, help its recipients of services.”
Emanuel is desperately trying to get $500 million in state cash to plug a teacher pension gap but said he is unwilling, in exchange, to endorse Rauner’s bid to limit the influence of public unions.   read more…..

LIUNA on the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Washington, DC (August 6, 2015): Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) General President Terry O’Sullivan today made the following statement regarding the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) today celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and remembers and honors all those who marched, fought, and even laid down their lives to secure and safeguard the voting rights of all Americans. Although African-Americans had had the right to vote since 1870, many states had devised poll taxes, voter tests, and other laws to keep African-Americans away from the polls. They had also used fear, intimidation, economic reprisals, violence, and even murder to drive home the message that voting was “for whites only.”

Fifty years ago today, a bipartisan Congress and a Southern Democrat President stood together to say “No More!” Pushed to act by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders; appalled by scenes of violent repression; and inspired by the courage of ordinary citizens, they passed a law that would transform our democracy. The Voting Rights Act not only led to the registration of millions of new voters, it paved the way for the election of African-Americans, Latinos, and other minorities to local, state, and federal offices, including that of President of the United States.

Yet even as we celebrate, we must continue to fight against those who would roll back the gains of the Voting Rights Act. The greatest tribute we can pay to those who fought for the Voting Rights Act is to oppose restrictive voter ID laws, increased obstacles to voter participation, and efforts to suppress voter turnout.

LIUNA was founded by those who knew the sting of bigotry and exclusion: African-Americans; Catholics; and immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and many other countries. Today, 112 years after our founding, and 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting, safeguarding, and defending the voting rights of all Americans.

Illinois Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, receives honorary LiUNA card


Pictured left to right: Local 1001 Business Manager James Ellis, Speaker Michael Madigan, Local 1001 Secretary Treasurer Victor Roa, Local 1001 Assistant Business Manager Bob Chianelli

August 6, 2015

Illinois Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, was honored by the Chicago Laborers’ District Council for his many years of service in being the champion of the working men and women of LiUNA. General President Terry O’Sullivan issued a very rare honorary Gold Card to Speaker Madigan on behalf of LiUNA and the Laborers’ across this great State of Illinois we thank you Brother Madigan.

Bruce Rauner is Using a Manufactured Crisis to Bust Unions, Privatize Services and Destroy Pensions

By Jennifer Ritter and Jacob Swenson-Lengyel
If you like Scott Walker, you’ll love Bruce Rauner. In February, Rauner issued an executive order blocking public employee unions from collecting “fair share” fees, or payments from non-union members who nonetheless benefit from collective bargaining done on their behalf. The order is intended to decimate public employee unions, not just in Illinois, but across the nation. As unions rightfully fight the executive order, Rauner hopes the case will make it to the Supreme Court, where following last years Harris v. Quinn ruling, many experts believe conservative justices may be poised to strike down fair share fees nation wide. read more……

City’s inspector general questions value of Emanuel’s wellness program

By Fran Spielman – Chicago Sun-Times
The city’s workforce declined by 19 percent — to 33,354 full-time equivalent employees in the decade ending in December 2013. Despite that drop, health care costs rose by 43 percent during the same period.
Emanuel noted that roughly six percent of the city’s workforce drives 60 percent of health care costs around the chronic, but controllable illnesses, such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, diabetes and smoking.
Chicago taxpayers spend $500 million a year to provide health care for city employees, nearly 10 percent of the city’s annual budget.
Ferguson’s advisory is particularly timely given the fact that Emanuel directed his budget director to meet with the inspector general last week to get his ideas on ways to raise revenue and cut costs.
Chicago desperately needs every dollar it can get to erase a $754 million shortfall and solve a combined $30 billion pension crisis at the city and public schools that has dropped both the city’s and the Chicago Public School system’s bond rating to junk status.  read more….

Local 1001 Members are there when you need them


August 3, 2015

City crews working to clear roads, remove downed trees, wires

City departments are in the midst of coordinating a city-wide response, which began last night after the end of the severe weather. Currently, 39 pieces of heavy equipment, 14 semi-trucks and more than 150 crew members from DSS have been deployed to respond to the 853 tree emergencies throughout the city.

DSS will also be putting out ten garbage trucks later today to pick up any remaining tree debris, and will be working into the evening and throughout the week to clear debris. Eighteen crews from the Department of Transportation (CDOT) have been deployed to address downed light poles and street lights.

“I would like to thank the Mayor Emanuel, Commissioner Williams and all city workers who worked through the night to clear streets and power lines,” said Alderman Joseph A. Moore. read more…..

City’s budget is short $754M -Pension, revenue demands may lead to higher property taxes

By Hal Dardick – Chicago Tribune

Mayor Rahm Emanuel must come up with at least $754 million in new revenue and budget cuts to balance the city’s books, according to preliminary 2016 budget estimates the administration released Friday.

The $426 million budget gap projected for next year breaks down into three parts: $233 million for day-to-day city operations, a $93 million increase in payments to all four city pension funds and $100 million to pay down debt instead of push it off into the future at higher cost. read more…..

Hazy Chicago Forecast – Rahm projects $426M shortfall in 2016 budget

By Fran Spielman – Chicago Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday released a financial analysis that projects a $426 million budget shortfall in 2016, but only if three rosy and risky assumptions turn out to be correct.

The shortfall does not include a $328 million payment to police and fire pension funds that Emanuel conveniently left out of his pre-election budget. Add that in and the revenue gap grows to $754 million even with the risks the mayor is taking.

“With respect to the city, we’re combing through every vacancy. We zeroed out everybody’s non-personnel budget again. I want to see where that ends. And then, we’re gonna work through all the ideas the aldermen are bringing forward and all the ideas the public is bringing forward before we know where we’re going to land.” read more….

Delay of pension decision rejected

Judge Rita Novak’s ruling means that unless the state Supreme Court quickly steps in, two city pension funds would have to restore higher benefits to retired city workers and take out less money from current workers’ paychecks. The city might also have to make up for reduced benefits since Jan. 1 and return the money already collected to workers who have been paying more into the retirement accounts. read more