On Labor Day, Unions Ponder Political Future

Sep 4, 2017

With Labor Day parades across Illinois Monday, Democratic politicians are thinking about how to win back the once-solid support of union members.

 Democrats lost a lot of union votes in the last two elections. According to exit polling, about 40% of voters with a union member in the household went for the Republican — choosing President Trump and Governor Bruce Rauner. John Penn is vice president of the Midwest Laborers’ International Union. He says it’s easy to convince union members to oppose Rauner’s agenda, which includes making it harder for unions to collect dues and lowering "prevailing wages” — which apply to government construction projects. “If our membership wants a 30% cut in wages, then vote for Rauner. If you want to keep your wages and increase your wages, vote for Pritzker — I think it’s a pretty good message." Penn was referring to J.B. Pritzker. The Democrat won the Midwest Laborers’ endorsement last week. Pritzker says Democrats had “message problems” in recent elections. He says he’s focusing on economic issues.