Earlier this month, the Illinois General Assembly voted overwhelmingly against a bill that would have created right to work zones in Illinois. As a matter of fact the bill did not get one yes vote. With Black unemployment in Illinois at almost 24 percent one would assume that the bill would have received at least a few yes votes, but nope, not one, zero…zilch. It seems simple; everyone should have the right to work in his or her own communities’ right? Well it’s not that simple. Let me explain.
Illinois is a strong union state, and they play political hardball. They are also at the center of Illinois’ pension crisis, and Governor Bruce Rauner has declared them his personal public enemy number one. Meanwhile, the trade unions have a long history of excluding Blacks from their membership ranks while the service unions have a similar history within the ranks of their leadership. Black activists often point to almost all White work sites in Black communities as evidence that unions do not operate in the best interests of Black folks.
Governor Rauner hopes to use that fact to exploit the tensions that already exist between the unions, Black legislators, and the Black community. The unions counter that they provide worker benefits and good paying jobs, and that right to work will drive wages down.
So here we are, once again with White people fighting to tell us what’s best for us, without talking to us. The white unions tell us that if we support right to work, our wages will go down and our benefits will decrease. The Governor says supporting right to work will allow Black folk to work in their own communities. But here’s my question… if its truly OUR community, how come the White folks are making us choose either or? We want the right to work and a good salary. They don’t expect White folks to make that choice, so we aren’t either. If we don’t work, there is no work. Union or not!
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