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McLean Co Unions join Statewide kickoff to push Vote Yes for Workers Rights Amendment

Adam Heenan
20 Sep, 2022
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Aug 6th, 2022

Bloomington, IL- On Saturday Aug 6th, twenty-five (25) workers representing seven (7) unions across McLean Co knocked over seven hundred (700) doors advocating for the Workers Rights Amendment. The Amendment adds language to the Illinois Constitution to guarantee the right of Illinois workers to organize and collectively bargain for fair wages, meaningful benefits and safety at work. If passed, the Amendment will also ensure that no law can be passed that will interfere with these rights. Currently, the Illinois constitution makes no mention of workers’ rights, meaning the fundamental rights of workers are at the whim of politicians. This November, Illinoisans are given the opportunity to change this as workers are on the ballot.

 

Bloomington was one of the host locations for the Yes for Workers Rights statewide campaign launch.  The Union members are affiliates of the Bloomington and Normal Trades and Labor Assembly (BNTL), the region's representative body to the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).  BNTL represents nearly 4,000 union members and 33 unions across McLean, Dewitt, Logan and Livingston counties.   "This is the number one issue on the ballot in November, and our members are really excited to talk to their neighbors about it.  Moreso, we're finding out that our neighbors are thrilled to come to their door and learn about the Amendment from working Illinoisians.  " said Adam Heenan, President Bloomington and Normal Trades and Labor Assembly.  "This is the kickoff of a series of Fall events that also includes our annual Labor Day Parade on September 5th."  

 

Members met at Plumbers and Pipefitters- UA 99 Hall and began by expressing why joining in the canvass that day was so critical. "It's good to spread the word.  I grew up in a union household and we learned early that bargaining led to better wages, working conditions, and a safer jobsite." - Matt Strupp, President, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 197 

  

"People were really receptive; when you tell them about the Amendment it's like, 'Oh yeah.' because it makes sense." - Mike Matejka, retiree, Laborers (LiUNA Local 362) 

 

"I have worked union and non-union jobs, and I will choose union every time.  The Workers' Rights Amendment will empower workers to bargain for wages, benefits, and safety in the workplace." - Kellan Kiley, UA 99 Plumbers and Pipefitters

 

Members noted that the experience of working together on this ballot initiative was important to winning the Yes Vote in November and to boost Labor's presence generally among their neighbors in McLean County.  For many of the canvassers this was their first time talking to neighbors about the issue that matters to their livelihood and workplace safety; and some expressed the ease in talking about the Amendment since the Workers Rights Amendment is non-partisan and will benefit all working people.

 

Luke Ogan of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 649 and Amanda Hughett a member of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI-4100) and Faculty member at UI-Springfield knocked over fifty doors alongside on the Southeast side of Bloomington.   This was Amanda's first time canvassing with Union members from other Trades, "I really enjoyed going door-to-door with my colleagues from other unions and talking about the need to vote Yes for the Workers Rights Amendment." UPI 4100 is a statewide higher education Federated Local of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.  Ken Hinshaw of Normal IL and member of the international Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 193 walked in his own neighborhood with Laborer Tim Herrington (LiUNA) Local 362, "We talked to anybody that was outside.  Very positive responses, " recalled Hinshaw. 

 

One member's son insisted on joining the canvass today, too.   "I thought it'd be cool to help my dad; it's pretty fun talking to our neighbors.  After we talked to the first person and they were excited about it, I was even more motivated." said John Kelleher, 17 Junior, Bloomington High School

 

August 6th was selected as the Yes for Workers Rights kickoff day due to the unusually abbreviated election cycle.  Voting begins on Sep 29th, and the Campaign intends to increase presence all the way through election day.  The Theme for the Bloomington Labor Day Parade will be Vote Yes for Workers Rights.  The parade will start on Front street at 9am and end at Miller Park.  Readers can learn more about the Workers Rights Amendment and read the official ballot language at workersrights.com

 

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Steve Kanski, retiree member IAMAW Local Lodge 1000; photo credit Mike Matejka, michaelgmatejka@gmail.com

 

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George Adams, member of a BCTGM local union in Normal IL photo credit Mike Matejka, michaelgmatejka@gmail.com

 

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Danny Rider, Laborers LiUNA) Local 362 places a Yes for the Workers Rights Amendment yard sign next to a resident's Proud Union Home sign in Bloomington, IL, photo credit Ryan Manuel

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A Bloomington resident supports Yes for the Workers Rights Amendment,  pictured with Jose Pena (Laborers (LiUNA) Local 362, and Peyton Mayfield UA 99), photo credit Brently Defenbaugh


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Union members gather at UA 99 hall ahead of canvassing neighbors to vote Yes for the Workers Rights Amendment, photo credit Mike Matejka, michaelgmatejka@gmail.com