University employees and students in Chicago and at colleges throughout Illinois are stepping up union campaigns and ready to strike for their collective bargaining rights.
State officials around the country are using state and local budget woes as a smokescreen for campaigns against public unions.
CHICAGO - By noon Oct. 29, union members were close to having called 500,000 people in Illinois about the Nov. 2 elections, here at what the Operating Engineers say is the nation's biggest, most state-of-the-art phone bank.
MELROSE PARK, Ill. - "We need to elect leaders that are friendly to labor and understand that what we need is more jobs, because without jobs, this country can't operate," said Ralph Porter, longtime Navistar worker.
"I'm carrying my purse, because they are trying to steal from us. I'm not wearing my earrings because we are in a fight!" declared Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.
Tory Moore, from Kankakee, Ill., worked as a temp warehouse worker for six years before he was fired in December 2009, after standing up for his rights.
Over 4,000 teachers, parents and students surrounded City Hall and stopped traffic here May 25 demanding no teacher layoffs or funding cuts for the city's public schools.
CHICAGO - "Like those guys," said former Starbucks worker Joe Tessane, pointing to the Haymarket monument behind him, "I'm not giving up."
"We're here to ask your support in our strike against the Congress Hotel - our families have been suffering for seven long years."
One hundred teachers at four Chicago charter schools filed for union recognition March 19, joining 123 others who won their first contract last year.