CHICAGO (CBS) — A few thousand union workers, and those who want to be union workers, demonstrated at a rally in the Loop on Labor Day Monday morning.
“Together we will win! Fifteen dollars!”
A minimum wage of $15 an hour was one focus of the rally, which comes ten days after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the $15 an hour minimum.
“I see Bruce Rauner as almost pathologically obsessed with union busting. That is the heart of his agenda — is to break unions,” Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said. “They brought us the middle class, unions did, and that’s what’s going to rebuild the middle class.”
Rauner has said a wage increase could lead to less hiring. The minimum wage in the city of Chicago is $11 an hour and is supposed to go to $13 an hour in 2019.
One of the speakers at the rally, Pastor William Barber, who is an NAACP leader, said, “The first slaves were brought here in 1619. 2019 will be 400 years. It’s taken 400 years to get from zero to $7.25 (an hour). “We can’t wait and we will not wait another 400 years to get to $15.”
Trying to get more Chicago-area hospital workers in unions was another focus of the rally. Organizers say the vast majority are not union members.
Gail Hamilton, a home care worker, says some of her coworkers struggle not only to make ends meat, but also with benefits.
“We often go to work sick as a home care worker because we don’t have the ability to take a paid day off,” she said. “That’s harmful to our clients.”
In response to Monday’s demonstration, the American Hospital Association issued a statement that reads, in part, “A hospital’s workforce is its most vital asset… Hospitals and health systems value the important work and contributions of the five million med and women who care for patients every day.”
Right now, the minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 an hour.