WBEZ | unions http://www.wbez.org/tags/unions Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois justices overturn state's landmark 2013 pension law http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-justices-overturn-states-landmark-2013-pension-law-112005 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Illinois-Supreme-Court-1_WBEZ_Tim-Akimoff.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that state lawmakers lack the constitutional authority to solve the state&rsquo;s pension problems by reformatting -- and reducing -- retirement benefits of state workers in a law that was passed in 2013. The unanimous ruling means state legislators will have to return to the drawing board, under a new governor.</p><p>Illinois state lawmakers hoped to save the state more than $100 billion over the next several decades by raising the retirement age of workers and tying the cost-of-living increases retirees receive to inflation, rather than a set percentage, among other changes. But the court said the state constitution trumps their plan.</p><p>Friday&rsquo;s ruling rejects the controversial, and much-debated, pension law that was approved and signed by then-Gov. Pat Quinn. The measure was passed as a way to eat away at the state&rsquo;s $100 billion pension debt, which is considered to be so large that it puts the funding of basic functions of state government in jeopardy.</p><p>Attorneys for the State of Illinois, in defending the law, argued that the pension crisis gives the state police powers to enact the law. But, the Supreme Court said, in its decision, that the General Assembly cannot exercise a higher power than the state constitution itself.</p><p>&ldquo;Crisis is not an excuse to abandon the rule of law. It is a summons to defend it,&rdquo; Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote in the decision.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/politics-behind-pension-vote-109301">The politics behind the pension vote</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>In delivering the decision, justices handed labor unions a legal victory in their challenge of the pension law. Five separate challenges to the law were consolidated in the circuit court to expedite proceedings. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the lower court&rsquo;s decision.</p><p>Dan Montgomery heads the Illinois Federation of Teachers, a union representing suburban and downstate teachers. He said his members felt great joy and relief when they learned of the court&rsquo;s decision--but that they&rsquo;d always been confident that the Justices would rule in their favor.</p><p>&ldquo;Can you imagine a state where when it&rsquo;s not convenient anymore, to hold up constitutional obligations, the lawmakers just ignore them?&rdquo; Montgomery said on WBEZ&rsquo;s Afternoon Shift.</p><p>Still, he said some of his members were in tears waiting for the decision--he explained they were very afraid of losing their life savings.</p><p>&ldquo;State pensions are still modest pensions that they paid for their whole careers,&rdquo; Montgomery said. &ldquo;They were afraid they were going to lose a significant chunk of 20, 25, 30 percent that bill would&rsquo;ve cut their pensions by.&rdquo;</p><p>The Justices also found that the pension protection clause from Illinois Constitution of 1970 was clear on the point. Their decision leaves questions about how lawmakers will next try to restructure the state&rsquo;s pension systems and any impact it might have on local governments across Illinois that are working to reduce their own pension obligations. Including the City of Chicago, where last year lawmakers approved changes to two of Chicago&rsquo;s underfunded pension systems. Those pensions were not included in Friday&rsquo;s Supreme Court ruling, but the city&rsquo;s adjustments argued for similar benefit changes. Teachers, police and fire pensions were not included in those changes but remain a pressing issue for the city.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The stakes</span></p><p>The State of Illinois owes more than $100 billion in pension debt. Much of which is the result of decades of the state skipping out on pension payments to pay for other services. Over the past few years, money from an increase in the statewide income tax rate was used to make some pension payments, but that tax rate dropped in January with the election of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said the state&rsquo;s taxes are too high. Meantime, bond rating agencies continue to watch the action around Illinois&rsquo; pensions, as they determine the state&rsquo;s bond rating and its ability to borrow money.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">What&rsquo;s next</span></p><p>Reactions to the Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision continue to come in. Here&rsquo;s a compilation of some of what politicians and financial analysts make of what&rsquo;s to come.</p><p><strong>Michael Carrigan, Illinois AFL-CIO President:</strong></p><p>&ldquo;The Court&rsquo;s ruling confirms that the Illinois Constitution ensures against the government&rsquo;s unilateral diminishment or impairment of public pensions. Because most public employees aren&rsquo;t eligible for Social Security, their modest pension&mdash;just $32,000 a year on average&mdash;is the primary source of retirement income for hundreds of thousands of Illinois families. While workers always paid their share, politicians caused the debt by failing to make adequate contributions to the pension funds.</p><p>Public service workers are helpers and problem solvers by trade. With the Supreme Court&rsquo;s unanimous ruling, we urge lawmakers to join us in developing a fair and constitutional solution to pension funding, and we remain ready to work with anyone of good faith to do so.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Democratic Senate President John Cullerton, who voted in favor of the pension law that has been struck down, but also advocated for a rival pension plan:</strong></p><p>&ldquo;From the beginning of our pension reform debates, I expressed concern about the constitutionality of the plan that we ultimately advanced as a test case for the court.&nbsp; Today, the Illinois Supreme Court declared that regardless of political considerations or fiscal circumstances, state leaders cannot renege on pension obligations. This ruling is a victory for retirees, public employees and everyone who respects the plain language of our Constitution.</p><p>That victory, however, should be balanced against the grave financial realities we will continue to face without true reforms. If there are to be any lasting savings in pension reform, we must face this reality within the confines of the Pension Clause. I stand ready to work with all parties to advance a real solution that adheres to the Illinois Constitution.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Buffalo Grove, who was instrumental in developing and negotiating the pension law that was struck down:</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Our goal from the beginning of our work on pension reform has been to strike a very careful, very important balance between protecting the hard-earned investments of state workers and retirees and the equally important investments of all taxpayers in education, human and social services, health care and other vital state priorities. In its ruling today, the Supreme Court struck down not only the law but the core of that balance. Now our already dire pension problem will get that much worse and our options in striking that balance are limited. Our path forward from here is now much more difficult, and every direction will be more painful than the balance we struck in Senate Bill 1.&quot;</p><p><strong>State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie, who also was instrumental in developing and negotiating the pension law:</strong><br />&quot;Today the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Senate Bill 1 is unconstitutional. While this is not the opinion the authors of SB1 had hoped for, we must respect the Court and strictly adhere to this ruling. The Pension Clause of the Illinois Constitution provides important protections, and today&#39;s ruling proves the depth of those protections.</p><p>The state of Illinois and many of its local governments are still facing serious fiscal problems, including significant pension debt. I look forward to working with all parties to find ways to ensure that adequate resources are available to properly fund our pension systems, in the context of a responsible budget that funds crucial services. Our public employees, our government bodies and our taxpayers deserve nothing less.&quot;</p><p>State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie, who also was instrumental in developing and negotiating the pension law:<br />&quot;Today the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Senate Bill 1 is unconstitutional. While this is not the opinion the authors of SB1 had hoped for, we must respect the Court and strictly adhere to this ruling. The Pension Clause of the Illinois Constitution provides important protections, and today&#39;s ruling proves the depth of those protections.</p><p>The state of Illinois and many of its local governments are still facing serious fiscal problems, including significant pension debt. I look forward to working with all parties to find ways to ensure that adequate resources are available to properly fund our pension systems, in the context of a responsible budget that funds crucial services. Our public employees, our government bodies and our taxpayers deserve nothing less.&quot;</p><p><strong>State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Burr Ridge, who&rsquo;s the House Republican Leader:</strong><br />&ldquo;I respect the Illinois Supreme Court, but disagree with the ruling.&nbsp; I am prepared to continue working on meaningful legislative reforms to save our public pension systems.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Gov. Bruce Rauner:</strong><br />&ldquo;The Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision confirms that benefits earned cannot be reduced. That&rsquo;s fair and right, and why the governor long maintained that SB 1 is unconstitutional. What is now clear is that a Constitutional Amendment clarifying the distinction between currently earned benefits and future benefits not yet earned, which would allow the state to move forward on common-sense pension reforms, should be part of any solution.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is also facing a big pension debt:</strong><br />&ldquo;Since taking office, our goal has been to find a solution to Chicago&rsquo;s pension crisis that protects taxpayers while ensuring the retirements of our workers are preserved -- something we achieved with Chicago&rsquo;s pension reform for the Municipal and Laborers funds.&nbsp; That reform is not affected by today&rsquo;s ruling, as we believe our plan fully complies with the State constitution because it fundamentally preserves and protects worker pensions rather than diminishing or impairing them.&nbsp; While the State plan only reduced benefits, the City&rsquo;s plan substantially increases City funding which will save both funds from certain insolvency within the next ten to fifteen years and ensure they are secured over the long-term.&nbsp; Further, unlike the State plan, the City&rsquo;s plan was the result of negotiation and partnership with 28 impacted unions to protect the retirements of the 61,000 city workers and retirees in these funds and ensure they will receive the pensions promised to them.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 08 May 2015 11:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-justices-overturn-states-landmark-2013-pension-law-112005 More than 1,000 local nurses plan a strike http://www.wbez.org/news/more-1000-local-nurses-plan-strike-111915 <p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">The nurses say it&rsquo;s not about money. They want to eliminate &ldquo;rotating&rdquo; shifts as long as 12 hours. Jan Rodolfo is with National Nurses United, the union that&#39;s been in contract negotiations with the hospital since last fall.<br /><br />&ldquo;We think it (the long shifts) lead(s) to medication errors,&rdquo; said Rodolfo. &ldquo;We know it leads to nurses falling asleep while they&rsquo;re driving on the way home.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">The nurses union said their members want more staff and supervising nurses instead of managers. They said the hospital is looking at that option to lower costs. UCMC officials released a statement saying that, with average salaries at more than $100,000 a year, their nurses already make more than most local hospitals pay. Hospital official said they&rsquo;ll have skilled replacement nurses in the event of a strike.</p><p>The union says more than 1,500 nurses would go on strike beginning April 30th if negotiations break down. The next bargaining session is set for Thursday April 23rd.<br /><br />Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a> &amp; <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub">Google+</a></p></p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 16:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-1000-local-nurses-plan-strike-111915 Afternoon Shift: Looking back at Governor Rauner’s first 100 days in office http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-04-21/afternoon-shift-looking-back-governor-rauner%E2%80%99s-first-100-days <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Flickr%20182nd%20Airlift%20Wing.jpg" style="height: 388px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/182nd Airlift Wing)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201928189&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><font color="#333333"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">&quot;Right to work&quot; and balancing the budget define Governor Rauner&#39;s first 100 days in office</span></font></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">April 21 marks the 100th day since Governor Bruce Rauner took office in Illinois. It&rsquo;s a milestone traditionally used to take stock of how things have gone so far. Two issues that have dominated these first few months are the state of Illinois&rsquo;s finances and the governor&rsquo;s fight to challenge unions. Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31; Greg Baise, president and CEO at the Illinois Manufacturers&rsquo; Association; and Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation join us to discuss the early goings of the Rauner administration.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddec-97ec-17e6-17cfa7db8537">Guest:</span></strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddec-97ec-17e6-17cfa7db8537"><a href="https://twitter.com/alindall">Anders Lindall</a></span> is spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.</em></li><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddec-97ec-17e6-17cfa7db8537">Greg Baise is president and CEO at the </span><a href="http://www.ima-net.org/">Illinois Manufacturers&rsquo; Association</a>.</em></li><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddec-97ec-17e6-17cfa7db8537"><a href="http://www.civicfed.org/civic-federation/staff/laurence-msall">Laurence Msall</a></span> is president of the Civic Federation.</em></li></ul></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201927861&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><font color="#333333"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Chicago sports teams showing strong potential</span></font></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">In the NBA Playoffs, the Bulls are up two games against the Milwaukee Bucks. The &#39;Hawks are up two games to one against Nashville. And both the White Sox and the Cubs have called up exciting prospects from the minors. Joining us to talk Chicago sports is WBEZ&#39;s Cheryl Raye-Stout.</p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddee-fd1e-a114-e5adaf2aa6b2">Guest:&nbsp;</span></strong><a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout?lang=en"><em>Cheryl Raye-Stout</em></a><em> is WBEZ&rsquo;s sports contributor.</em></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201928010&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><font color="#333333"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Shortage of homes in housing inventory makes for a seller&#39;s market</span></font></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddf0-be74-0b79-0e8d58d1be89">According to a </span><em>Crain&rsquo;s Chicago Business</em> report, there are fewer single family homes on the market in Chicago since the beginning of the housing market crash over eight years ago. So why is the housing inventory so short and what does it mean for potential buyers? Dennis Rodkin of <em>Crain&rsquo;s Chicago Business</em> joins us with answers.</p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddf0-be74-0b79-0e8d58d1be89">Guest: </span></strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/Dennis_Rodkin?lang=en">Dennis Rodkin</a> is a Crain&rsquo;s Chicago Business reporter.</em></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201928362&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Court proceedings continue against Bolingbrook man accused of trying to join ISIS</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddf0-be74-0b79-0e8d58d1be89">A&nbsp;</span>19-year-old man accused of trying to join the so-called Islamic State was back in court on Tuesday. The charges against Hamzah Khan of Bolingbrook include attempting to provide material support to the terrorist group. WBEZ&rsquo;s Lynette Kalsnes was at the federal courthouse and joins us with details.</p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddf2-465b-fa10-a9d4fe35e3d8">Guest: </span></strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">Lynette Kalsnes</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201927443&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><font color="#333333"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Tech Shift: Tracking venture capital investment in Chicago</span></font></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">The amount of venture capital investment in Chicago startups is on the rise. Or maybe not. Depending on how you crunch the data, the first quarter of this year was either lackluster or spectacular. Regardless of how the numbers break down, hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital are flowing to companies in our city every year. So, where&rsquo;s all that money going? And what effect is it having? Jason Heltzer is a Chicago-based VC who&rsquo;s a partner at Origin Ventures. He also teaches at the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Booth School of Business. He joins us with a venture capitalist&rsquo;s perspective on the local VC economy.</p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddf4-727e-13e9-6cb5d7394038">Guest: </span></strong><em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/jheltzer">Jason Heltzer</a> is a partner at Origin Ventures and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.</em></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201876190&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><font color="#333333"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">After detective&#39;s aquittal in fatal shooting, prosecutors face criticism</span></font></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Chicago police detective Dante Servin has been cleared of all charges after fatally shooting 22-year old Rekia Boyd. Servin says justice was served, but others say the detective deserved to go to prison. They&rsquo;re slamming both the acquittal and the way the case was prosecuted. WBEZ West Side bureau reporter Chip Mitchell has more.</p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddf6-ec5d-ae8b-10f07f1725ab">Guest: </span></strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1?lang=en">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter.</em></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201928514&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><font color="#333333"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Chicago Department of Health urges parents to vaccinate</span></font></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">In honor of National Infant Immunization week, the Chicago Department of Public Health is encouraging parents to vaccinate their babies. While recently we&rsquo;ve seen the emergence of vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccination rates haven&rsquo;t dipped, and some are at an all-time high. The Dept. of Public Health&rsquo;s Julie Morita joins us with details.</p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddf8-c8ca-dda9-642cca4fe34c">Guest: </span></strong><em><a href="https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/auto_generated/cdph_leadership.html">Julie Morita</a> is Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.</em></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201928710&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Scandal continues for the College of DuPage</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddfa-04de-a981-fb33a1108b00">In the latest of a series of scandals for the College of DuPage, the </span><em>Chicago Tribune</em> reports that trustees and administrators have been paying for alcohol at the school&rsquo;s upscale restaurant with money that&rsquo;s supposed to be used for student scholarships. Student Body President, Stephanie Torres, joins us to talk about how this is affecting the morale of COD students.</p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddfa-04de-a981-fb33a1108b00">Guest: </span></strong><em><a href="http://www.cod.edu/news-events/news/15_march/15_torres_iccb.aspx">Stephanie Torres</a> is student body president at the College of DuPage.</em></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201928208&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><font color="#333333"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">State Senator weighs in on reports of Puerto Rican citizens receiving addiction treatment in Chicago</span></font></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddfa-04de-a981-fb33a1108b00">I</span><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddfb-6ac2-fcaa-426670b157b5">n collaboration with our colleagues at </span><em>This American Life</em>, we aired a special report last week about Puerto Rican citizens receiving addiction treatment in Chicago. The story was brought to light by reporter, Adriana Cardona Maguigad, editor of <em>The Gate</em> newspaper newspaper in Chicago&rsquo;s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Illinois State Senator William Delgado&rsquo;s district includes areas where some of these facilities are located. He joins us to talk about what&rsquo;s going on and what he thinks should be done.</p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-799d777f-ddfb-6ac2-fcaa-426670b157b5">Guest: </span></strong><em><a href="http://www.senatordelgado.com/biography">William Delgado</a> is an Illinois state senator who represents neighborhoods including Belmont Cragin, Logan Square and Hermosa.</em></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 16:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-04-21/afternoon-shift-looking-back-governor-rauner%E2%80%99s-first-100-days Rauner's first 100 days: The fight between unions and Rauner http://www.wbez.org/news/rauners-first-100-days-fight-between-unions-and-rauner-111909 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunerface.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Remember the protests in Wisconsin four years ago? When thousands of union members and their allies flocked to Madison?</p><p>Somewhere in that crowd, at least, the one that gathered in the winter of 2011, was Mark Guethle.</p><p>&ldquo;It was cold. Hat and gloves. I&rsquo;m used to cold weather so we&rsquo;re good,&rdquo; Guethle recalled. &ldquo;My colleagues and I were out there and we supported what the labor movement was doing at the time.&rdquo;</p><p>Guethle, with Painters District Council 30, is from Aurora in Chicago&rsquo;s western suburbs.&nbsp;He traveled to Wisconsin because he feared if policies he saw as anti-union could happen there, they could happen here.</p><p>This, at a time when Wisconsin lawmakers who hated that law so much, fled: They came to Illinois to avoid taking a vote, so Wisconsin Republicans couldn&rsquo;t get a quorum.</p><p>That was when Illinois was a blue state. Now, it&rsquo;s run by Rauner, a Republican.<br /><br />&ldquo;You got a governor who&rsquo;s running his anti-worker agenda,&rdquo; Guethle said.</p><p>He&rsquo;s referring to what Gov. Bruce Rauner calls his &ldquo;Turnaround Agenda.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;A key part of our agenda: In your city, in your county, in your schools, you should decide what gets collectively bargained. Springfield shouldn&rsquo;t tell ya,&rdquo; Rauner said recently as part of his tour of the state in which he gives campaign-stump-speech-style overviews of his priorities to small audiences.</p><p>It has Illinois union leaders, who will have to negotiate contracts with Rauner, very upset.</p><p>&ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t heard him give one concrete idea, one actual solution to helping Illinois&rsquo; problems,&rdquo; said Dan Montgomery, head of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. &ldquo;Instead, he&rsquo;s focused maniacally on attacking working people. It&rsquo;s unbelievable.&rdquo;</p><p>Montgomery said Rauner&rsquo;s plan signals that the governor would prefer to have chaos, rather than govern the state. Like what happens when Rauner asks local governments to pass a resolution that in-part embraces so-called right to work laws?</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a circus,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a circus because this governor knows it&rsquo;s illegal. So he&rsquo;s spending his time going around trying to shill and sell this snake oil that he knows is illegal. So why does he continue to do this?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think he&rsquo;s looking for some way to build some support for his side of the bargaining table when he sits down with the leaders in Springfield,&rdquo; said Joe Gottemoller, the chairman of the McHenry County Board northwest of Chicago.</p><p>The McHenry County Board recently approved Rauner&rsquo;s non-binding resolution that&rsquo;s angered unions so much. Gottemoller doesn&rsquo;t dispute that Illinois law does not yet allow for some of Rauner&rsquo;s agenda, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s not worth trying to change the law.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not anti-union despite what they might say about me; but I&rsquo;m really not,&rdquo; Gottemoller said. &ldquo;I have unions to thank for me getting through college. But I also know that it doesn&rsquo;t do anybody any good to be an unemployed carpenter.&rdquo;</p><p>Gottemoller said McHenry County, which is right on the border of Wisconsin, is on the front lines of this labor fight. And he said growth and development in the county has slowed tremendously since 2008.</p><p>Gottemoller said he needs tools to compete with Illinois&rsquo; neighbors--and this resolution from the governor is a start. But even Gottemoller admits it&rsquo;ll be a long-time coming before these policies could actually be enacted. After all, a lot of Democratic and Republican lawmakers support labor, and vice versa.</p><p>So how do any of Rauner&rsquo;s plans get approved?</p><p>Guethle, the painter&rsquo;s union official who protested in Wisconsin, said he&rsquo;s got his eye on Rauner&rsquo;s campaign finance committee and a new Political Action Committee created by some of Rauner&rsquo;s allies. Guethle&rsquo;s trying to play the long game, much beyond these first 100 days, to see which 2016 candidates Rauner&rsquo;s going to be putting his money behind.</p><p>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</p></p> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 16:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauners-first-100-days-fight-between-unions-and-rauner-111909 Illinois to divert 'fair share' fees from unions http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-divert-fair-share-fees-unions-111739 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunerpodium.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Illinois Gov. Bruce&nbsp;Rauner, dogged in attempts to eliminate fees paid to unions by workers who choose not to join, has instructed state agencies to divert money from nonunion employee paychecks away from organized labor until a judge settles the matter.</p><p>In a memo obtained by The Associated Press, general counsel Jason Barclay directs departments under the Republican governor&#39;s control to create two sets of books, one of which would move deductions from nonunion members to the operations budgets of state agencies instead of to the unions, although the money would not be spent.</p><p>The idea was immediately condemned by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest of two dozen unions that filed a countersuit over an executive order&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;signed last month calling the fees a free-speech violation. He&#39;s seeking a federal court&#39;s declaration that they are unconstitutional.</p><p>&quot;This legally questionable scheme shows the lengths to which Gov.&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;will go in his obsession to undermine labor unions,&quot; Roberta Lynch, executive director of the Illinois council of AFSCME, said in a prepared statement. &quot;To frustrate lawful fair-share agreements,&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;is ordering payroll staff to make unauthorized reductions in employees&#39; established salaries.&quot;</p><p>The process outlined in the memo calls for preparing one payroll report with the &quot;proper pay&quot; and one, to be processed, that reduces the worker&#39;s gross pay by an amount equal to what nonunion workers normally pay in so-called &quot;fair share&quot; fees. It is not clear how the deductions would affect federal tax withholding or health-insurance payments. Taxes are based on gross pay &mdash; if that amount is lower, less is withheld, creating potential headaches down the line.</p><p>&quot;We are confident in the process laid out in the memo,&quot;&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a prepared statement. &quot;It&#39;s no surprise that AFSCME is doing everything in their power to deny state employees from exercising their First Amendment rights.&quot;</p><p>Rauner, a businessman who admires Republican governors of Indiana, Wisconsin and elsewhere who have reduced union power, has also proposed &quot;right-to-work&quot; zones where local voters could decide whether workers should join unions. While he has said that he is not anti-union, he has frequently asserted that out-of-control union pensions and the political power of organized labor have contributed to the state&#39;s financial woes.</p><p>Lynch questioned what legal liability those payroll employees would face in issuing &quot;inaccurate checks.&quot; The system explained in the memo exposes a level of uncertainty associated with what labor expert Robert Bruno called &quot;virgin territory.&quot;</p><p>The memo recommends that each agency prepare a &quot;payroll report using the normal figures,&quot; copy and save it, and then create a second payroll &quot;needed to reduce the gross pay&quot; and enter a zero in a category reserved for fair share amounts. Then, it says, the amounts &quot;should be accepted by the comptroller.&quot;</p><p>Comptroller Leslie Munger, whom&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;appointed to fill a vacancy, had stymied the governor&#39;s original plan to create a separate escrow account. Munger relied on the attorney general&#39;s opinion it would be illegal.</p><p>The memo said Munger &quot;provided the method&quot; for the latest plan, but after her spokesman, Rich Carter, denied that, Kelly clarified that after reviewing procedures with Munger&#39;s staff, &quot;the governor&#39;s staff identified a way&quot; to proceed. Carter, meanwhile, didn&#39;t answer a question about whether Munger would process the altered payrolls.</p><p>About 6,500 nonunion workers pay amounts lower than union dues &mdash; about $575 annually &mdash; to cover the costs of union negotiating and grievances. Unions must represent those who chose not to join.&nbsp;Rauner&#39;s&nbsp;action could keep about $3.74 million out of union bank accounts.</p><p>Bruno, a labor and industrial relations professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said&nbsp;Rauner&#39;s&nbsp;move would likely prompt a new legal action by the unions. He said if&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;is trying to demoralize labor, it hasn&#39;t worked.</p><p>&quot;In fact, a rather extraordinary form of unity and consensus has broken out,&quot; Bruno said.</p></p> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 08:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-divert-fair-share-fees-unions-111739 Rauner calls for lower taxes, anti-union regulations in State of the State http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-calls-lower-taxes-anti-union-regulations-state-state-111501 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunersots02042015.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner preached the importance of bipartisanship while announcing wide-sweeping conservative policy proposals in his first State of the State Address Wednesday. But already Democrats are showing they&rsquo;re ready for a fight.</p><p>Rauner spoke of regressive property taxes that are set by local governments and eliminating caps on the number of charter schools allowed in the state. He also referred to &ldquo;empowerment zones&rdquo; as parts of the state that should change work rules for government employees. Those are commonly referred to as right to work laws that have been the subject of union protests in states like Wisconsin and Indiana.</p><p>&ldquo;In our agenda, each of you will probably see some things you don&rsquo;t like,&rdquo; Rauner said to senators and representatives in the House chamber. &ldquo;But each of you will certainly see many things that you like a lot. We should consider it as a whole, not as a list of individual initiatives.&rdquo;</p><p>Rauner has called his agenda &ldquo;The Illinois Turnaround,&rdquo; saying the state government is so financially broken that he considers he&rsquo;s taking on the biggest turnaround in the country. But his suggestions that the financial problems facing Illinois have been caused by contracts that benefit labor unions, not taxpayers, left Democrats to wonder if the governor&rsquo;s calls for bipartisanship were genuine.</p><p>&ldquo;The people of this state elected a divided government, but the governor will soon learn that it doesn&rsquo;t mean that he needs to be divisive,&rdquo; Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said in a statement after Rauner&rsquo;s address.</p><p>Several unions representing government workers and teachers also weighed in with words of caution about Rauner&rsquo;s approach to state government.</p><p>These public servants will be disappointed to learn that the governor is pursuing an aggressive agenda to undermine their rights to a voice on the job and in the democratic process,&rdquo; said Roberta Lynch in a statement. She heads AFSCME Council 31, the largest public employees union in Illinois.</p><p>Rauner also proposed banning unions from contributing to political campaigns, something unions vigorously defend. The governor calls it unethical because those unions can end up bargaining contracts with those they help elect. Labor groups have said they&rsquo;d be willing to talk with the governor over this topic, if he were willing to also put limits on wealthy individuals&rsquo; campaign donations. Rauner, who reported earning $60 million last year, has given his own campaign fund nearly $38 million since 2013.</p><p>Meantime, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has raised concerns about a budget hole created in part by a reduction in the state&rsquo;s income tax. He estimated the state will face a projected $11 billion budget hole over the next two years. Despite that hole, Rauner said Wednesday he wants to increase funding for early childhood education.</p><p>&ldquo;If we don&rsquo;t fix the budget, if we don&rsquo;t get spending under control and match it up with revenue and - probably with an increase in revenue and cuts in services, nothing else will matter,&rdquo; said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois Springfield.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold"><em>@tonyjarnold</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 08:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-calls-lower-taxes-anti-union-regulations-state-state-111501 Unions file lawsuit over pension changes http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/unions-file-lawsuit-over-pension-changes-109588 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP92397679629.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">A dozen of Illinois&#39; most powerful public employees&rsquo; unions filed a lawsuit Tuesday, challenging the constitutionality of the controversial new state pension overhaul signed into law in December.</p><p dir="ltr">The plaintiff in the long-expected suit is the We Are One Illinois Coalition, which includes the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, among others.</p><p dir="ltr">In all, the organized labor groups say they represent 621,000 members.</p><p dir="ltr">At issue is the pension law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn last month. It aims to ease the financial impact of Illinois&rsquo; massive public pension shortfall by scaling back yearly benefit increases and raising retirement ages for younger workers.</p><p dir="ltr">In return, workers would pay slightly less toward their pensions, and advocates say their retirement plans will be more financially secure, even though the pension funds had been shorted by Springfield policy-makers for years.</p><p dir="ltr">But Tuesday&rsquo;s civil complaint argues the new law violates a part of the Illinois Constitution that says pension benefits &ldquo;shall not be diminished or impaired.&rdquo; It also contends that a state employee&rsquo;s pension is a contract, and that the legislation violates the state constitution&rsquo;s Contracts Clause that states no law &ldquo;impairing the obligation of contracts or making an irrevocable grant of special privileges or immunities, shall be passed.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The lawsuit goes on to blame current and previous lawmakers for the current state of finances facing Illinois.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The State chose to forgo funding its pension systems in amounts the State now claims were needed to fully meet the State&rsquo;s annuity obligations,&rdquo; the lawsuit reads. &ldquo;Now, the State expects the members of those systems to carry on their backs the burden of curing the State&rsquo;s longstanding misconduct.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Quinn&#39;s administration quickly defended the law on Tuesday.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;The lawsuits come as no surprise,&quot; said Quinn&#39;s assistant budget director, Abdon Pallasch. &quot;We believe that pension reform is contstitutional and we will defend the interest of taxpayers.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Tuesday&rsquo;s lawsuit comes on the heels of other similar lawsuits that the Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s office has asked be consolidated into one case to be heard in Cook County. But the We Are One Illinois coalition filed its case in Sangamon County, home to Springfield, the state Capitol, and thousands of public workers.</p><p dir="ltr">The difference in location could prove significant in the outcome of the case. House Speaker Michael Madigan takes credit for negotiating the compromise and putting the needed votes on the bill for approval. Critics of the law express concerns about whether the suit could come before a Cook County judge who has connections to Madigan, who also serves as the chairman of the state&rsquo;s Democratic Party.</p><p dir="ltr">The case is expected to eventually be argued in front of the Illinois State Supreme Court.</p><p dir="ltr">Recent studies have shown the legislation may not save the state as much money as originally projected. Supporters have said the pension overhaul will save $160 billion over the next 30 years. That number may have been exaggerated, and a report from the University of Illinois projected Illinois will still have a $13 billion deficit 10 years from now even if the pension law takes full effect.</p></p> Tue, 28 Jan 2014 13:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/unions-file-lawsuit-over-pension-changes-109588 Morning Shift: Illinois' pension crisis could have cure-or face another hurdle http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-04/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-cure <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/by jimmywayne.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois lawmakers Tuesday are voting on a deal that would aim to fix the state&#39;s pension crisis. Who&#39;s happy with the deal and who thinks it falls short? We take the pulse. Plus, documenting the struggles of a small Indiana town through the eyes of the high school basketball team.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-c/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-c.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-c" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Illinois' pension crisis could have cure-or face another hurdle" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 04 Dec 2013 08:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-04/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-cure Laid-off workers open their own factory http://www.wbez.org/news/laid-workers-open-their-own-factory-107118 <p><p>A few hours before the grand opening of New Era Windows Cooperative, Melvin &quot;Ricky&quot; Maclin is standing&nbsp; in the middle of the factory, beaming.</p><p>&quot;All of this is ours,&quot; he said. &quot;We have our own trucks, our own forklifts. It&rsquo;s a whole new world.&quot;</p><p>Maclin&rsquo;s title is the same as the 17 other people who work here: worker-owner. Together, they vote on decisions about the factory. He proudly shows the place where they jackhammered the floor to install water pipes. He says the workers didn&rsquo;t know how to complete some of the steps to set up the factory, but they learned. They also took classes on business management.</p><p>&quot;At first we thought we were just lowly factory workers,&quot; Maclin said. &quot;But now we see we have so much more in us.&quot;</p><p>Maclin says that being a worker-owner means that for the first time in his life he has control over what happens to him. Back in 2008, when the factory was closed for the first time, he was devastated.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/New%20Era%202.jpg" style="height: 169px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Melvin “Ricky” Maclin holds a postcard advertising New Era’s line of windows named after their union. (WBEZ/Shannon Heffernan)" />&quot;This was right before Christmas,&quot; he said. &quot;I didn&rsquo;t even know if I was going to be able to buy my grandkids a doll for Christmas. It was a dark time, it was like we were in a free fall.&quot;</div><p>Maclin and the other workers of Republic Window occupied the closed factory. They were later paid the severance wages that they were legally entitled to receive. A California- based company called Serious Materials bought the factory and hired back the workers. But not long after, they also closed down.</p><p>The workers decided to do things differently that time and buy the factory themselves.</p><p>Working World, the organization that provided them with a credit line to help open the cooperative, says it would cost most companies $5 million to open. It cost New Era less than $650,000.</p><p>The first windows made by the factory will be titled the &ldquo;1110 Series&rdquo; after their union, United Electric 1110.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 10 May 2013 07:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/laid-workers-open-their-own-factory-107118 Chicago mail carriers protest proposed cuts of Saturday delivery http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mail-carriers-protest-proposed-cuts-saturday-delivery-105595 <p><p>More than 100 postal workers rallied in Chicago Monday to protest a proposed plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/postal-service-cut-saturday-mail-trim-costs-105372" target="_blank">announced the cuts earlier this month</a>, and has since gone head-to-head with members of Congress over whether the U.S. Postal Service is authorized to cut six-day service without congressional approval.</p><p>Postal carriers have responded with protests across the country. In front of a post office in Chicago&rsquo;s Bronzeville neighborhood Monday, mailmen spilled out onto the street holding signs and calling on Postmaster Donahoe to step down.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79829709" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of other cost-cutting measures they can try that they haven&rsquo;t even tried yet,&rdquo; said Janet Rendant, who has been a mail carrier for 25 years. &ldquo;At least give us a chance, give the public a chance.&rdquo;</p><p>She and others accused the post office of cutting union jobs before seeking out other savings, and said they don&rsquo;t believe cutting mail service will actually save the post office much money because it will also result in a loss of customers.</p><p>Mark Reynolds, who represents the postal service in Chicago, said they&rsquo;ve already <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/postal-service-close-naperville-processing-center-96657" target="_blank">closed facilities</a> and consolidated rural post offices to cut costs.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously these are very difficult decisions that we have to make,&rdquo; said Reynolds. &ldquo;But what we&rsquo;re trying to do is to maintain customer service to the extent possible.&rdquo;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79853510" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The U.S. Postal Service ended its 2012 fiscal year nearly $16 billion in the hole, and they say cutting Saturday delivery will save them $1.9 billion annually. The <a href="http://deliveringforamerica.com/" target="_blank">National Association of Letter Carriers</a> believes Congress can address the deficit by getting rid of a requirement that the postal service pre-fund its pension obligations.</p><p>A Congressional mandate that requires the post office to deliver mail six days a week expires March 27, but the cut to Saturday delivery would not go into effect until August. Delivery to PO boxes and package delivery would continue on Saturdays. Still, some <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/us/saturday-mail-delivery-cut-is-subject-of-senate-hearing.html" target="_blank">congressmen think the postmaster general is outside of his purview</a>, claiming any change to delivery days must be approved by Congress.</p><p>Mark Osier, a postal carrier for 38 years, attended the Chicago protest because he was concerned about younger postal workers&rsquo; jobs &ndash; and about his postal customers.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7033_002-scr%20%281%29.JPG" style="float: right; height: 310px; width: 310px;" title="Mark Osier has been a postal carrier for 38 years. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;People look forward to the mailman coming,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Especially older people. It&rsquo;s their day&rsquo;s event.&rdquo;</p><p>The postal service paid for <a href="http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_024.htm" target="_blank">a survey</a> in February that found that 80 percent of Americans favor cutting mail delivery to five days a week.</p><p>But Osier said six-day postal delivery is symbolic. He and others at the protest say they believe cutting Saturday service marks the beginning of the end for postal workers, and for a long-standing tradition of unionized postal delivery jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;This is an institution, this is as American as apple pie,&rdquo; Osier said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gotta keep it going.&rdquo;</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter.</a></p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 16:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mail-carriers-protest-proposed-cuts-saturday-delivery-105595