Thousands Rally for Working People's Day of Action

February 24, 2018 - CLDC

February 24, 2018 Working People's Day of Action

More than 5,000 Illinoisans Unite for Their Freedom, Demand End to Gov. Rauner and Corporate Special Interests Rigging System and to continue the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of the Memphis sanitation strike.

CHICAGO - More than 5,000 working men and women from across Illinois rallied and marched in Chicago today to fight for their freedom to form strong unions and to demand an end to the rigged economic system perpetrated by Gov. Bruce Rauner and corporate special interests.

The Chicago rally was part of the nationwide Working People’s Day of Action, marking an unprecedented resurgence in grassroots efforts to realize the unfinished work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the sanitation workers who went on strike in Memphis 50 years ago. James Riley, a Memphis sanitation worker in 1968 who marched with Dr. King, was honored at the Chicago rally today for his activism on behalf of working people.

“Our freedom is under attack. Governor Bruce Rauner and his wealthy CEO friends have been leading an all-out assault on working men and women for years,” said Illinois Working Together Co-Chair and Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan. “Today we stand here to say to Governor Rauner that we will not stand idly by. Whether you’re in a union or not, working people are here to fight back. We are here to unrig the system."

"When teachers, nurses, first responders and other public service workers like the ones we heard from today are free to come together in strong unions, working people win," said Chicago Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer Bob Reiter. "We will never stop fighting for our families, our communities, and all working people. And we will never stop fighting to unrig the system that sends so much to so few at the very top."

Speakers at the rally included working men and women from across Illinois who are already suffering the consequences of the Rauner's failed leadership, including educators, fire fighters, public service workers, laborers, and nurses.

"I work hard and I deserve a livable wage. I deserve health care benefits and so does my son. I deserve a seat the table. And without a strong union, people like Bruce Rauner could take that away from me, and it would be hard to fight back alone," said Liz Villareal, an academic advisor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. "But I’m not alone. I have my union family, mi familia. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and we won’t back down."

“This great city of Chicago was built on union backs. And now that governor [Bruce Rauner] wants to strip us of all that we have? Of our livelihood? Not gonna happen,” says Tommy Chirillo, a Chicago Streets and Sanitation worker and member of Laborers' Local 1001. “Not on our watch! And our weapon is our vote!"

"Because I have a strong union and a seat at the table when policies are made, I have a direct voice in serving my community. I use my voice through my union to speak for kids and families that no one would otherwise hear from," said DCFS Child Protection Investigator Stephen Mittons of Chicago. "Working people are going to keep coming together. We’re sticking together. We’re using our voices and speaking up—for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities—and we will never quit!"

"Freedom means providing basic public services, even when politicians like Bruce Rauner fight like hell to strip us of our right to negotiate not only a living wage, but also our right to a safe work environment and sufficient resources that provide for the public’s safety," said Galesburg firefighter Jeff Maher. "While Bruce Rauner and his radical right agenda continues to erode your families’ safety and security, my brothers and sisters will continue to save lives and property."

The rally was organized by Illinois Working Together, the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Chicago Federation of Labor, AFSCME Council 31, the Illinois Education Association, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and was endorsed by the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, UFCW Local 881, the Illinois Nurses Association, LiUNA Chicago Laborers District Council, Chicago Jobs with Justice, the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Women Employed, ARISE Chicago, Citizen Action / Illinois, Our Revolution - Illinois, Indivisible Illinois, and Fight for $15.

CBS Chicago covered they rally, read the story here.