Labor Issues Training By Sean Stott

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Rauner’s Ransom

The Illinois House has voted on Governor Rauner’s anti-worker, anti-middle class agenda 11 times now; and 11 times the House has overwhelmingly rejected it. No Democrat has ever supported the Rauner amendment. House Republicans have typically either voted “present” (a non- committal vote) or refused to vote.

Rauner is holding the final pieces of the state budget hostage until legislators give in to his demands to hurt the middle class by:

  • ????Cutting construction worker pay through elimination of Prevailing Wage Act coverage on local government construction projects;
  • Allowing local governments to prohibit their employees from bargaining over pay, health insurance, privatization of their jobs and other, basic items; and
  • Preventing injured workers, especially older workers and those with pre-existing conditions, from collecting workers compensation benefits

Prevailing Wage

What it Does

The Prevailing Wage Act applies to construction projects that are funded with tax dollars. The law requires the most common wage in an area to be paid to the workers who build the project. Wages differ by type of worker and typically from county to county. Support for elimination of Prevailing Wage is support for pay cut for Illinois construction workers.

Everyone Benefits from Prevailing Wage

Taxpayers, local businesses and local workers benefit from the Prevailing Wage Act:

  • ????Taxpayers get a project that is done right by skilled workers instead of fly-by-night contractors who cut corners;
  • ????It prohibits local contractors from being undercut by low wage, out- of-state contractors because the Act forces contractors to bid on work based on how efficient and well-trained their workforce is rather than how far they can drive down wages;
  • ????Illinois workers (both union and non-union) benefit from better wages and benefits and more job opportunities; and
  • ????Local businesses benefit from the additional money earned by local families who spend it in the community rather than sending it out-of state.

Why Rauner is Wrong

Gov. Rauner and opponents of the Prevailing Wage Act make outrageous claims that the law drives up construction costs. But their “studies” don’t take into account the efficiency that an experienced, well-trained workforce gets the same job done right the first time and in a fraction of the time.

Collective Bargaining Rights

What Rauner Wants to Do

State law has given workers employed by state and local government the ability to form a union and negotiate contract for more than 30 years. Gov. Rauner wants to allow local governments to eliminate their employee’s ability to collectively bargain. This is another of Rauner’s attacks on middle class families

Why Rauner is Wrong

  • ???? Local government employees should have the same rights as state workers and workers in the private sector;
  • ???? Public employees primarily join unions to get protection from being fired for political reasons, not simply to increase their pay;
  • ???? Decent wages and benefits for public employees make it more attractive to work in critical, but difficult and oftentimes dangerous jobs.

Workers Compensation

What it Does

Injured workers gave up the right to sue their employers in court for damages and pain and suffering for injuries that occur on the job in exchange for payment of accident-related medical bills and a partial replacement of lost wages while unable to work.

What Rauner Wants to Do

Gov. Rauner has proposed preventing thousands of injured workers from getting workers comp by instituting a so-called “causation” standard.

Why Rauner is Wrong

  • ????Causation supporters claim they are not cutting benefits, but they are really prohibiting legitimately injured workers from even qualifying for benefits;
  • ????This will mean that workers with any pre-existing condition made worse on the job will rarely, if ever, get workers comp;
  • ????Rauner’s proposal will hit older workers especially hard because employers will easily defend claims by saying, ‘you’re getting old’ even though the worker’s job sped up or caused the worker’s body to wear down;
  • ????Workers will still get hurt on the job, but preventing them from collecting workers comp will transfer the cost of the injury from the employer to the taxpayers through increased Medicaid and welfare benefits.

Sean Stott is Director of Governmental Affairs for Laborers International Union – Midwest Region and 1st Vice Chairman for the Sangamon County Democratic Party.