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

City could end trash pickup for larger buildings

By Hal Dardick – Chicago Tribune

The city is poised to stop picking up garbage at more than 1,800 larger apartment buildings under a measure advanced by aldermen Tuesday.

The change would put an end to city garbage hauling for apartment buildings with more than four units that were getting the service under a 15-year exemption. Building owners would have 90 days to find a private trash hauler if the full council approves the plan Wednesday as expected.

It’s unclear how much savings, if any, the city will actually see unless it decides to reduce its Streets and Sanitation payroll. For now, O’Shea and Williams said, workers hauling garbage at larger buildings would be assigned other work, such as trimming trees and cleaning vacant lots and viaducts. Immediate savings would result only from reduced disposal, equipment and fuel costs. read more…..

Walker stumps in Illinois— wild about Rauner, mild about rivals

By Jordan Holman – Chicago Sun-Times

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker brought his Republican presidential bid to Chicago on Monday, declining to attack GOP rivals Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee — while heaping praise on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget policies.

“I hope he stays firm and gets the people, the state of Illinois, on his side,” Walker said of Rauner and his budgetcutting strategy.
Rauner cited Walker as one of his role models when running for governor last year. Both Republicans are known for taking on unions.
Walker said he calls Rauner every few weeks to offer his support in the budget battle, which has been dragging on in Springfield all summer with no end in sight. read more

Why Scott Walker is so dangerous

The Washington Post – By Dana Milbank

“First off,” Scott Walker proclaimed, “we took on the unions, and we won. We won!”
Walker then went on to celebrate his triumphs over the demonstrators who objected to his dismantling of Wisconsin’s public-sector unions, portraying the pro-union forces as violent thugs. “Those big government interests — they believe they can win by intimidating elected officials,” he said. “There were amazing things they did to try to intimidate us. read more…..

Great Meeting at our new location

Great General Membership Meeting tonight at our new location, Whitney Young High School.

Even on such a beautiful summer evening the turnout was very encouraging and with the way the library is set up made for a very casual and relaxed atmosphere.
We hope to see more of you there next month on August 20.

Court: N.J. towns can furlough workers without union talks.

By Ryah Huthins – Politico

Economic reasons are indisputably a legitimate basis for a layoff of any type.
New Jersey’s highest court ruled Tuesday that officials in three municipalities were within their rights to furlough workers at the height of the recession—even without consulting labor unions—because “economic reasons are indisputably a legitimate basis for a layoff of any type.”
The 4-1 decision by the state Supreme Court is a precedent-setting victory for public employers in New Jersey and was immediately condemned by labor leaders.

“There is no room for mandatory negotiation in the determination to reduce a workforce,” Jaynee LaVecchia, a centrist and the longest-serving justice on the court, wrote for the majority. “That is so because such decisions go to the heart of governmental policy determinations about what services are to be provided and how they will be provided to the public. Public managers must be the ones accountable to the people for such substantive policy decisions.”

In a fiery screed against his colleagues, Justice Barry Albin said the ruling erodes existing protections for union-represented workers and should not be taken lightly.

“The majority opinion sweeps away nearly fifty years of this Court’s public-sector labor jurisprudence, giving municipal employers the unilateral power to reduce the wages and hours of public employees promised in collective negotiations agreements,” Albin wrote in his descent. “Before today, the cardinal principle guiding public-sector labor negotiations had been that the wages and hours of public workers are subject to negotiation—not to a public employer’s fiat.” read more

Rauner pension plan would end union negotiations, freeze pay

By Sara Burnett, Associated Press

The legislation would prohibit state employee unions from collective bargaining on issues such as wages, vacation and overtime, and would freeze salaries for five years beginning this month. It would then offer workers the option of getting raises, more vacation or more overtime — but only if they agree to switch to a less-generous pension plan.
Rauner wants to give local governments the ability to file Chapter 9 bankruptcy — an idea he’s pitched as a possible solution to Chicago Public Schools’ financial mess.
Emanuel has said it’s “the wrong thing to do.” Madigan also indicated he opposes the idea. read more

Streets and Sanitation 3rd Quarter Training Opportunity Dates

Streets and Sanitation 3rd Quarter Training Opportunity Dates

Date: Saturday, July 11, 2015

Topic: Customer Service Requests (CSRs)/311 Complaints – How To Enter Them, Look Them Up, and Close Them Out; Management Reports including Alley Times

Time:09:00 hr – 11:00 hr

Location: City Hall Room 1107

Trainer/Contact Person: John Dunn RSVP: Email John Dunn at no later than Thursday, July 9, 2015

Date: Saturday, July 18, 2015

Topic: The Basic Concepts of Chicago Mobile Asset Tracking (CMAT) and Auditing of Worksheets    (GPS vs Worksheet), Microsoft Word 365 and Microsoft Excel 365

Time:  09:00 hr – 11:00 hr

Location: City Hall Room 1107

Trainer/Contact Person: Chris Reiser RSVP: Email Chris Reiser at no later than Thursday, July 16, 2015

Date: Saturday, August 1, 2015

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

Time:  09:00 hr – 11:00 hr

Location: City Hall Room 1107

Trainer/Contact Person: Steve Morales RSVP: Email Steve Morales at no later than Thursday, July 30, 2015

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

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

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

Rauner opens up 2nd front vs. unions


As Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner remains locked in a stalemate with Democratic lawmakers over his pro-business, anti-union agenda, he’s opened up a second front, battling the largest state employee union over a new contract.

Also at issue are the governor’s proposals to change the way overtime pay is calculated and to allow the state to circumvent union workers by contracting out to private vendors.

But perhaps the most charged proposal is the one that would halt the state’s long-standing tradition of withholding directly from paychecks union member dues and fees on nonmembers that fund union activities. Currently, that money is deducted along with taxes and health care premiums, and then routed back to the unions. Rauner wants to end that practice, essentially cutting off the regular, predictable flow of money to his union adversaries.

Bob Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said the administration’s demands are “so draconian that they would practically strip away all of the standards and the level of benefits and working conditions and pay that workers are currently experiencing.”

If unions were to agree to Rauner’s terms, they’d “create conditions that wouldn’t even justify having a union in place,” Bruno said. read more….