10,000 Union Members March on Illinois State Capitol

IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber, center, leads dozens of Machinists in a march to the Illinois state capitol in Springfield as part of a protest of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-working family “Turnaround Agenda.”

Dozens of Machinists from across the state of Illinois, led by IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber, joined thousands in Springfield, IL to protest Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-working family agenda.

More than 10,000 union members, angry about Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s so-called “Turnaround Agenda,” protested in front of the state capitol in Springfield, IL.

See photos from the #RaunerIsWrong march .

The march and rally, organized by the Illinois AFL-CIO and Illinois Working Together, was attended by more than 10,000 union members angry about the governor’s so-called “Turnaround Agenda” — a list of priorities he says must be approved by state lawmakers before he will sign a state budget.

The priorities call for right-to-work “zones,” drastic cuts to workers compensation, public education, social services, Medicaid and state worker pensions, and a host of Big Business incentives that put corporations before workers.

Democratic lawmakers have rightfully refused to comply. With the governor not willing to work with Democrats to reach an agreement, Illinois has been without a state budget since July.

“Gov. Rauner has been holding this state hostage by refusing to pass a budget for almost a year. It’s unprecedented,” said Gruber. “He has essentially told the residents of this state, he won’t pass a budget until lawmakers agree to give him the heads of unions, state workers, the elderly, the young and the poor on a silver platter. His ultimate goal is to give more money to the wealthy, while curbing the rights and benefits of workers and cutting off education and essential programs in this state. We’re here to tell him ‘no.'”

With the state approaching a full year without a budget, working families in Illinois are already feeling the effects. Public colleges and universities statewide have announced layoffs, social service agencies are shutting down, construction projects have stalled and businesses are owed billions for goods and services provided to the state. The state’s controller estimates the backlog could top $10 billion by the time the current fiscal year ends in July. That money will have to be made up in next year’s budget, which is technically due July 1.

“We’re here today to send an urgent message to Gov. Rauner,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan. “All of this devastation is

Dozens of Machinists from across the state of Illinois, led by IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber, joined thousands in Springfield, IL to protest Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-working family agenda.

due to one man, a mega-millionaire who thinks his huge wealth means he can impose his will on the entire state.”

“The ‘Turnaround Agenda’ would diminish wages, destroy worker protections and completely wipe out what is left of the middle class here in Illinois,” said Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez. “Gov. Rauner, we are calling on you to end the devastating crisis you created. It’s time to create an Illinois that works for all — for our students, seniors, state employees, tradesmen and women, and all workers struggling to provide for their families.”

TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition to tell our state legislators to protect working families from Gov. Rauner’s attacks

See photos from the #RaunerIsWrong march .

Nine Machinists Earn UMass Labor Studies Master's Degrees

Nine IAM members and staff earned master’s degrees in union and labor administration from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. Pictured from left: Local 2339A member Cherie Morgan, Special Representative Mark Hollibush, Special Representative Bridget Fitzgerald, Grand Lodge Representative Richard Suarez, Grand Lodge Auditor Ed Delaporte, Local 751F member Hazel Powers and Local 2339A member Heather Ragle.

Nine IAM members and staff were awarded master’s degrees in union and labor administration from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. On May 6, 2016, they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas from the university’s chancellor.

It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and many late nights. The group entered the highly regarded Union and Labor Administration program at the UMass Amherst Labor Center together in the summer of 2013 and progressed semester by semester through the program.

The UMass Amherst Labor Studies program is one of the premier graduate degree programs for students to understand the political economy, workers’ organizations and how to build power. The program provides skills activists need—hands-on skills in organizing, strategic corporate research and bargaining—as well as the theory and context to think critically about issues confronting working people and the labor movement today.

The 2016 graduating class includes Grand Lodge Auditor Ed Delaporte, Special Representative Bridget Fitzgerald, Special Representative Mark Hollibush, Local 2339A member Cherie Morgan, Local 1763 member Matt Pyne, Local 751F member Hazel Powers, Local 2339A member Heather Ragle, Grand Lodge Representative Richard Suarez and FL 1998 Member Gil Yap.

“I am incredibly proud of all of these IAM graduates; they successfully completed an academic program that is known for its rigor and high standards,” said IAM International President Bob Martinez. “I am confident that the knowledge these members and staff gained in the course of their studies will be used to meet the challenges we confront as an organization in the future.”

“I want to say congratulations to the graduates,” said IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Dora Cervantes. “They juggled family, work and school assignments while pursuing a degree that will allow them to better and more effectively serve the membership of the IAM. They are to be commended for their perseverance and hard work.”

“My participation in the University of Massachusetts graduate program was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life,” said Fitzgerald. “I look forward to utilizing the knowledge I’ve gained to fight for a brighter future for working families.”

“This accomplishment would not have been realized without the support of many, I will forever be in great debt to my family and my union family for their unrelenting encouragement,” said Suarez.

“I discovered another meaning to the term ‘solidarity’ while moving through this program,” said Powers. “The participating Machinists improved on the ‘no man left behind’ mentality by adopting a ‘no woman or man left behind’ culture during the entire process.”

“I am extremely grateful to our Executive Council for understanding that education helps enable us to do a better job to improve our members working conditions and lives,” said Delaporte.

“Not only am I extremely proud of these graduates, I am proud to lead an organization that supports and values education,” said Martinez. “The IAM has led and continues to lead the way when it comes to education.”

IAM members can pursue and earn an associates, bachelors or master’s degree through the IAM/SUNY-Empire State College Partnership Program at the Winpisinger Center. Click here for more information, or contact Rhonda Rogers at the Winpisinger Center at 301-373-3300 or email rrogers@iamaw.org.