ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Local workers joined state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, and labor leaders to speak out against Gov. Bruce Rauner’s effort to pad corporate profits at the expense of the middle class at a press conference on Thursday at the Rock Island County Building in Rock Island.
“While we must do more to make Illinois attract businesses, doing so by sacrificing vital safety measures for workers is not the answer,” said Halpin. “When Governor Rauner’s vision for Illinois has been enacted in other states, the result has been disastrous for workers, and created working conditions that closer resemble a third-world sweatshop than a modern economy. We’re calling on the governor to abandon his reckless corporate agenda and join us in supporting real reforms that lift up the middle class.”
Rauner’s agenda would put Illinois in a race to the bottom, and increase corporate profits by lowering wages and making workplaces less safe. This is illustrated in a recent Bloomberg article that found dangerous working conditions in states like Alabama, where policies similar to those demanded by Rauner have been enacted. Bloomberg’s report on working conditions in Alabama reads like a description third-world working conditions, and they got there by participating in the same race to the bottom that Governor Rauner wants to bring to Illinois. In right-to-work Alabama, workers are pushed to work 12-hour shifts, six or even seven days a week, for poverty wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in Alabama’s manufacturing sector are twice as likely to be killed in a preventable workplace accident as their counterparts in Illinois.
A local resident, Luci Kaiser who lost in son to poor workplace conditions, also joined Halpin to speak out against measures that would further drive down labor conditions in Illinois.
“The governor needs to realize that the reforms he is pushing have a very real human toll, and that workplace safety items should never be negotiable,” said Luci Kaiser of Neponset.
“Bruce Rauner’s corporate agenda of cutting middle-class wages and gutting laws that hold big businesses accountable for the safety of their workers is not how you grow an economy, it’s how you create a sweatshop economy,” said Vince DiDonato of the Quad City Federation of Labor. “Working people deserve to have their voices heard. They deserve to be safe on the job, and if they’re injured at work they deserve to be made whole again. And we all deserve real reforms that put the needs of middle-class families ahead of the demands of Bruce Rauner and his billionaire friends.”