By CARL GREEN
Belleville – “We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan told union leaders at the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council’s annual awards dinner.
The General Election Nov. 4 “is about money versus votes," Carrigan said. "This is about corporate elite billionaires versus the middle class. And you are fighting for the middle class here.”
The election is especially crucial in Illinois because Democratic Governor Pat Quinn is slightly behind in the polls to billionaire Republican Bruce Rauner, an avowed enemy of the labor movement.
Carrigan said Rauner would not only seek legislation to weaken labor, he would be in a position to place anti-labor figures as heads of state departments, even the Department of Labor, as well as state boards and commissions.
“He will systematically dismantle all that labor has worked on for 70 to 100 years,” Carrigan said. “We have to do anything and everything we can. We are working as hard as we possibly can, but we need voter turnout. It’s that simple. Get out the vote, we win.”
‘NO REASON NOT TO VOTE’
The AFL-CIO has already geared up for the election, establishing phone banks and organizing neighborhood walks and registration programs.
Carrigan pointed out that new state laws in Illinois allow more ways to vote early than ever before and labor needs to help its members take advantage of them.
“It’s not necessarily Nov. 4,” he said. “You can vote long before Nov. 4 through early voting. There is absolutely no reason not to vote.”
EVERY VOTE COUNTS
U.S. Rep. William Enyart (D-Belleville), who is running for re-election in the 12th Congressional District, also spoke at the dinner, emphasized the importance of voter turnout.
“We cannot let a single vote sit on the sidelines,” Enyart said. “We can’t afford to have anybody stay at home because it’s raining or it’s snowing or they have a headache. We’ve got to get our brothers and our sisters to the polls.”
Enyart faces a right-wing Republican state representative from Murphysboro in southern Illinois.