I believe what’s going on right now will define who we are as a nation. Are we going to be a country where your place in society will be determined by the size of your bank account and not by the content of your character as Martin Luther King Jr. said? I believe in the America that says that if we all work together, and we all contribute then we all benefit. I believe in the America where there is room for all of us.
I am convinced that Local 73 is called to stand up, fight back, and make sure that we say, “No More!” Fighting for change has never been easy. It requires sacrifice. It requires commitment. It requires hard work. When people stand up and fight they can win.
How do we rebuild the power of Local 73 in our work sites and in our state? We need a new governor. Governor Rauner is wrong for Illinois. He’s wrong because he doesn’t care about the issues of working people and families of Illinois. We need to build a workplace army. We have too many of our members not participating in our union. If the members don’t participate in their union then it ceases to be their union. The union is not Ashland Ave. The union is not the staff. The union is the members. If the members own and participate in their union, then it is a strong union. If the members don’t participate, there is no union.
To build a stronger union we will:
- Send Rauner packing.
- Sign up every member to stick with our union before Janus hits.
- Build a strong leadership army in the work sites.
When we accomplish this, then this Local will be ready to return to self-governance. This Local has been in Trusteeship for 18 months. At the start of the Trusteeship four goals were outlined to the membership:
- End the in-fighting at the Local.
- Fix the Local finances.
- Provide the best representation possible for the members.
- By accomplishing the first three goals, then we would be able to move forward with the final goal of returning the Local to self-governance.
We have ended the in-fighting within the Local even though once in a while some people rise up and they have their own ambitions that come into play and they make a play for power. When that happens, we make crystal clear that this is not the moment for ambition, this is the moment to rebuild the union. If they don’t want to go along with the program, we take action and remove them. We have to focus, like a laser beam, on rebuilding the union.
When we took over this Local, it was basically bankrupt. Today, thanks to a lot of hard work the Local is now in the black. We are paying our bills on time. There’s still a lot more work that needs to get done for this Local to be in the best possible position. We have to focus on job number one, that of rebuilding the Local and making sure we can withstand what is coming with Janus. We can’t lose sight of that because if we do, it won’t matter if the Local returns to self-governance because we won’t have much of a union.
My Co-Trustee, Dian Palmer, and I will be going out across Illinois and Northwest Indiana to do workplace meetings. We want to reach the maximum number of members to talk about what’s going on in the union, to answer any questions, and to solicit their participation. We are going to be forming a committee called Committee on the Future made up of members that will look at the Constitution, Bylaws, finance, and all the different aspects of the organization. We want this committee to be as diverse as possible from as many different divisions, locations, and work sites. The committee will make recommendations about how we’re going to structure the union for the future. Once we do that, we’ll make a recommendation to the president of SEIU, Mary Kay Henry, about going back to self-governance.