CHICAGO — The Illinois Legislature wasted no time heeding the national voters’ mandate, overwhelmingly passing a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage from $6.50 an hour to $7.50 effective next July. The bill, which Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he looks forward to signing, will make the Illinois minimum wage one of the nation’s highest.
WASHINGTON — “Union power’s on the rise, now’s the time to organize!” More than 1,000 union members took up that chant as they marched to Capitol Hill, Dec. 8, still riding high from labor’s huge victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — In response to Eve Enseler’s feminist “Vagina Monologues,” a series of theatrical vignettes on the theme of contemporary women’s gender and social oppression, South Asian Sisters, a California-based group, developed “Yoni Ki Baat” (“Talks of the Vagina”).
Folks were still eating turkey sandwiches when the AFL-CIO issued its call for a Dec. 8-9 labor summit and march in Washington, D.C., to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, a top legislative priority for labor. Among the summit’s goals is training 250,000 “trusted messengers,” worksite-based labor activists, to force veto-proof enactment of EFCA.
Do you think they heard us this time? Although the Bush administration and its congressional allies have done a very good job of ignoring working families for six years, I think they must have heard us Nov. 7.
NEW YORK CITY — In 2001, New York State Supreme Court Justice Leland DeGrasse ruled that New York State was in violation of its own Constitution which guarantees every child the right to a “sound, basic education.” Since then, education activists, teachers and parents have been fighting — in the courts and in the court of public opinion — to remedy the gross inequities in public school funding.
Labor’s challenge in this election was to provide the organizing to transform the workers’ frustration and anger into political power, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said at a post-election press conference Nov. 8. It was not only labor’s message but its messengers who achieved that goal.
Organized labor and its allies launched a massive, nationwide get-out-the-vote drive in the final days of the midterm election as polls showed many tight races certain to be decided by voter turnout
Some 100 union coal miners jammed the Mine Safety and Health Administration district office in Morgantown, W.Va., Oct. 24. They demanded stepped up enforcement of safety laws, oxygen packs and other equipment, and more mine inspectors. They also protested President Bush’s appointment of a coal operator to head the federal mine safety agency.
Today a mighty groundswell of senior fightback is underway. Its effect will be felt in the November elections. Retiree leader George Kourpias recently went so far as to say, “Retirees will determine who wins the 2006 elections.” Kourpias, president of ARA (Alliance for Retired Americans) added, “To us, Nov. 7 is not just Election Day, it’s Judgment Day.”