Yesterday, the Sun-Times published an editorial calling for the City to “drive a harder bargain with its 27,000 unionized workers”. Last week, the City’s Inspector General issued a report calling on the City to, among other things:
1. Remove the “traditional work” provision of the contract that protects our jurisdiction;
a. The IG thinks the City should choose if Laborers get to perform our own work.
2. Stop paying the “prevailing wage”, which is the standard construction wage in the area, and decrease annual cost of living increases;
a. The IG thinks the prevailing wage pays Laborers too much money, and our salary increases are too high.
3. Increase the amount employees pay towards our health insurance.
a. The IG thinks we don’t pay enough for the health insurance benefit we get.
Make no mistake, the editorial and the IG report are direct attacks on your standard of living. They ignore the value you add to the City, its residents, and your own neighborhoods, where you live and pay taxes every day. Read the report for yourself, it’s riddled with inaccuracies and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how labor relations operates. It displays a reckless disregard for the contributions we make to the City and its taxpayers, and the cooperative stance we’ve taken to address the City’s financial issues. It overlooks, among other things, the furlough agreement we entered into to assist the City during the Great Recession. It overlooks the Apprenticeship Agreement we entered into to provide the City with a better trained workforce. Further, it overlooks steps the City was able to take without our consent, namely the removal of retiree healthcare subsidies and the establishment of a second tier of pension benefits.
The City is using the media and its own Inspector General to advocate for its positions at the bargaining table. It’s nothing new. We simply must stand together to protect our livelihoods. Together, we have the power to protect our wages and our benefits. Together, we have the power to protect our working conditions and our jobs. Together, we have the power to strike if the City refuses to recognize our value. Our union, united, will never be divided.