By CARL GREEN
Chicago – Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner delivered a major speech on Sept. 13 intended to reset and restart his failing re-election campaign.
On his way there, he crossed a picket line.
Rauner spoke to about 70 hand-picked supporters in a room high up in the Hilton Chicago on South Michigan Avenue – one of 26 downtown hotels being struck by 2,000 workers seeking to replace an expired contract and secure year-round health coverage for full-time workers who often are laid off and lose coverage during the winter.
The workers are supported by the Chicago Federation of Labor, and other groups have been moving their events to other locations out of respect for the workers.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: As of Sept. 25, workers at nine hotels, the Allegro, Palomar, Sheraton, W City Center, W Lakeshore, Westin Michigan Avenue, Westin River North, JW Marriott and Hotel Blake signed new contracts. The walkout continued at 17 others, including the Hilton Chicago.)
Rauner called the speech his “vision for the future of Illinois” but actually spoke with regret about his hard-charging attempts to force anti-worker changes in Illinois government, claiming he suffered from having “too much courage” in attacking workers and their families.
The coalition Illinois Working Together gave this commentary on the spectacle: “Bruce Rauner giving his ‘vision for the future of Illinois’ speech at a hotel where workers are currently on strike is the most ‘Bruce Rauner’ thing possible.”
Democratic activist Nick Desideri had this comment: “Rauner’s tenure has been a complete failure, but it’s OK, everyone – he’s ‘grown’ and ‘changed’ from the experience. Imagine being this clueless!”
Democratic nominee for governor J.B. Pritzker offered a list of five questions that Rauner should answer if he really wants to take some responsibility:
• BUDGET – “Was your two-year budget crisis worth it?”
• JOBS – “You underperformed your predecessor, so does that make you the same ‘miserable failure on jobs’ you called him?”
• EDUCATION – “After enrollment in state colleges and universities plummeted by 72,000 students on your watch, do you regret proposing cuts to higher ed and slashing funding for MAP grants?”
• HEALTH CARE – “Why haven’t you protected Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions from losing their healthcare coverage to Trump’s attacks?”
• VETERANS – “After 14 veterans and spouses died on your watch, do you still think your administration did ‘an excellent job’ in Quincy?”
Rauner did not furnish answers.
“Bruce Rauner is a failed governor who has spent four years wreaking havoc on communities across the state, and nothing Rauner says will undo his damage done,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said. “A speech can’t erase four years of failure, a ‘reset’ can’t save a flailing campaign, and the same failed governor can’t convince anyone that another term will be any different than the last.”
UNITE HERE members strike Chicago hotels
over stalled contract talks, refusal to provide
Thousands of hotel workers across downtown Chicago are on strike over expired contracts and the hotels’ refusal to provide year-round health care.
“Hotels may slow down in the wintertime, but I still need my diabetes medication when I’m laid off,” said Q. Rivers, a house attendant at the Palmer House Hilton. “Nobody should lose their health benefits just because it’s cold out. Full-time jobs should have year-round benefits. They work us like dogs when it’s busy and then kick us to the curb in the winter.”
Workers remain on strike at these Chicago hotels:
• Ambassador Chicago
• Cambria Magnificent Mile
• Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago-Metro
• Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile
• Drake Hotel
• Hampton Inn / Homewood Suites Magnificent Mile
• Hilton Chicago
• Holiday Inn Mart Plaza
• Hyatt Regency Chicago
• Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
• Inn of Chicago
• Kinzie Hotel
• Millennium Knickerbocker
• Palmer House
• Ritz-Carlton Chicago
• Warwick Allerton
• Wyndham Grand