Quinn supports labor; his Republican opponent does not
By CARL GREEN
Collinsville – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) supports labor. Bruce Rauner, his Republican opponent in the Nov. 4 general election, does not. Period.
That was the message Metro East union members and leaders conveyed Friday, Aug. 1, when Quinn dropped by the Painters and Allied Trades District Council 58 headquarters here to share his message and an update on his campaign.
‘A FRIEND TO LABOR’
“He’s been a friend to labor,” said Gregg Smith, secretary-treasurer and business manager for District Council 58. “Rauner is as anti-labor as can be.”
Tom Pelot, secretary-treasurer and business agent for Teamsters Local 525, said of Quinn:
“He’s the man for the job. He understands labor and what it takes to run the state – without good jobs, it’s hard to have any money to spend.”
About 100 supporters attended the fundraising event.
“I’d say we did all right,” Scott Saunders, president of Painter’s Local 90 and vice president of the Springfield and Central Illinois Trades and Labor Council said of the event, adding, “but we’re never going to match Bruce Rauner.”
Rauner, a multi-millionaire venture capitalist, spent $6 million of his own money to win his party’s nomination.
Quinn spoke one-on-one with most of those attending and gave a short off-the-cuff speech that drew several ovations, recounting how New York Times political analyst Nate Silver gave him only an 8 percent chance of defeating Republican Bill Brady in the last election. Quinn won by 30,000 votes.
“I’m often underestimated in my public life,” Quinn said. “We are going to win this election.”
The Governor also looked toward the national political scene, criticizing Republicans and conservative leaders for being out of touch with working Americans and the concerns of working families.
“The Republicans are off in Washington trying to sue the president,” Quinn said. “Give me a break!
“This election is our chance at the ballot box to send a message to the do-nothings that we’re sick and tired of their doing nothing.
“Let’s get more jobs, raise the minimum wage, have decent health care for everybody. Let’s invest in education, so our kids can get a world-class education that gives them a job for the future.”
RAUNER IS ANTI-LABOR
Much of the talk at the event concerned Rauner’s anti-labor positions, which he frequently has floated, then tried to walk back when faced with opposition, including reducing the minimum wage, ending collective bargaining for public employees and slashing the state’s budget.
“We’re dealing with an anti-labor person who demonizes public employees and workers in general,” Quinn said.
“He said teachers are paid way too much in Illinois – 23 percent overpaid. He doesn’t believe they have the right to organize and bargain, and I don’t agree with that.
“He’s for right-to-work for less, and I’m not. I believe in project labor agreements and he doesn’t.”
Quinn is relying on personal campaigning – door-to-door, face-to-face, one-on-one to counter Rauner’s well-funded anti-worker attacks.
“The most important way to win an election is with people,” he said.
INVESTING IN ILLINOIS
Quinn noted several examples of the government making investments to help the Illinois economy, its residents and its veterans:
• A new science building at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where some students were forced to attend classes on Sundays until the new building was finished.
• A new classroom building Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC), where many veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq are attending classes.
“SWIC has many, many, many veterans coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq, and we’ve got to give them a good education so they can get a good job. That’s what America is all about,” Quinn said. “And that’s what we’re all about. “But we’re running against a crowd that wants to cut money for our veterans. They want to cut money for our schools. They want to cut money for our health care.”
Another example in investing in the state’s economy is the new bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis.
“We did that bridge because we invested public money in doing something important,” Quinn said. “Frankly, that bridge will live long after we’re gone. But folks, our grandchildren traveling across it will know that in 2014, we did something big for the whole common good.”
Quinn said he is also looking forward to the results of the upcoming non-binding referendum on increasing the state’s minimum wage.
“The principle in our country is we are all in this together. And there are some people who do the hardest jobs imaginable and they get paid $8.25 an hour,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to raise a family on $8.25 an hour.”
“This is the battle of a lifetime,” Quinn said. “We’ve got to fight hard to do what we think is right, which is investing in Illinois.”