By CARL GREEN
Caseyville, IL – Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and his running mate, Julianna Stratton, issued a ringing endorsement of the Labor Movement in a quickly organized rally recently that nonetheless brought a large and boisterous crowd to the Steamfitters Local 439 hall.
Pritzker and Stratton appeared with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs and a line-up of local legislative candidates Aug. 14 after a long day of travel and appearances on Pritzker’s campaign bus.
Their target was clear – Governor Bruce Rauner.
“Of the challenges that people are going through every day, many were brought on by Bruce Rauner – the 90 percent cut in child care assistance, or the massive cuts in home care for seniors,” Pritzker said. “All of you have seen people or know people who are suffering from the damage that Bruce Rauner’s done.
“We’re going to attack him on the kitchen table issues that really matter to people all across the state, and it begins by standing up for our labor unions. You are the bread and butter, the backbone of the middle class, and I firmly believe that when we win, we’re going to put Springfield back on the side of working families.”
STRATTON DOES IT ALL
Durbin introduced Stratton, a state representative who in 2016 defeated a turncoat Democrat who was helping Republicans sustain Rauner’s vetos.
“This is an amazing young woman,” Durbin said. “She’s an attorney, she’s an entrepreneur, she’s the mother of three, and when she’s not on the J.B. bus she’s running marathons. She does it all, my friends, and she’s going to be a great lieutenant governor.”
Stratton described the influence of her mother, a teacher who is a longtime member of both the Chicago Teachers Union and AFSCME.
“We have to stand up for our labor unions,” Stratton said. “You all have fought so hard to make sure that working families are able to make the wages they deserve, able to take care of their families and protect their health care and in so many other ways.
“J.B. and I have been traveling this state, going as many places as we can, because it’s important that we look you in the eye and tell you this – that J.B. and I will be both friends and partners to Organized Labor when we get to Springfield with your help. I can tell you that J.B. is someone who listens better than almost anyone I know.”
$11 BILLION IN NEEDLESS DEBT
Pritzker noted that even Republicans finally had to join Democrats in voting against Rauner’s obstructionism.
“What did Rauner do?” he asked. “Two years without a budget… $11 billion of additional state debt because he was unwilling to stay in the room and hammer out a budget for two whole years.
“In the third year, he vetoed the budget that Republicans and Democrats had worked on together. Finally, the Republicans had had enough, and they helped override that veto.”
Pritzker joked about Rauner’s much-maligned Carhart jacket, worn in TV commercials to try to make himself seem more like a working man, calling it “dry-cleaned.”
“But from under that jacket, when he got elected, he pulled out the hidden agenda that said, ‘Destroy labor unions, reduce wages and lower workplace safety. You ask yourself, ‘Why would somebody think that’s a good idea for a state?’
“He thinks that’s how you create jobs,” Pritzker said, “that if we lower everybody’s wages in the state of Illinois, businesses will flock to Illinois.
“I think you want a governor who wakes up every day thinking about, ‘How do you raise wages in Illinois? How do you make peoples lives better every day?’ ”
Pritzker saluted Missouri voters for the overwhelming vote against Prop A (“right-to-work”) and noted how Rauner’s so-called “turnaround plan” was really just a way to sneak “right-to-work” into Illinois.
“In Missouri, they voted out ‘right-to-work,’” Pritzker said. “We have the opportunity to vote out ‘right-to-work’ in Illinois on Nov. 6, and that’s to get rid of Bruce Rauner.”
AN OFFER REFUTED
Senator Durbin recalled offering to help Rauner work with Labor, only to be rebuffed.
“I sat down with this governor at the beginning of this term and said, ‘If you ever have a problem with a Labor union, call me. I’m proud to be part of Labor heritage, I know a lot of Labor leaders, and sometimes they get pretty stubborn. So call me – let me help you.’ But he said, ‘Durbin, you don’t get it. It’s not about working with them. They’ve got to go away!’ That’s what this governor said to me as he began his term.”
Frerichs said: “We have an opportunity to rectify things this November. We have an opportunity to kick out a ‘right-to-work’ governor and to outlaw those words from ever being said in Illinois again, if we can elect J.B. Pritzker and Juliana Stratton.”
Pritzker and Stratton wrapped-up their six-day bus tour Aug. 16 with a rally at the Illinois State Fair. The tour covered 1,394 miles, passed through 21 counties and included 20 campaign stops.