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SEIU to spend $500K to blast Rahm for aping anti-Obamacare companies

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

* Greg Hinz

The state council of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, has approved a $500,000 plan seeking to demonize Mr. Emanuel as “the national poster child for Neo-Liberals who are hell-bent on adopting regressive policies.”

That language comes from a document approved by the SEIU council — a document whose authenticity I have confirmed. It calls for spending $100,000 on polling and “opposition research” aimed at Mr. Emanuel, and $200,000 each on “targeted ward work” and paid communications, including texting, radio ads and posters on Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains.

In a phone interview, council President Tom Balanoff declined to comment on what might be in the council’s budget. But Mr. Balanoff, whose union was neutral in Mr. Emanuel’s 2011 election race, wasn’t at all shy about attacking the mayor, who recently implemented a new maintenance contract at O’Hare International Airport that the union considers deeply flawed.

“I think he’s trying to save some money, and he’s taking it out of people who can least afford it,” Mr. Balanoff said. “And at the airport, he’s not saving (taxpayers) money, he’s saving airlines money,” since all revenue the city gets from O’Hare is plowed back into airport operations rather than going to the general city operating budget. […]

According to Mr. Balanoff, the contract, which covers private firms that clean O’Hare domestic terminals, is shortchanging workers on pay, health care and other benefits. A similar pact for maintenance services at police stations resulted in workers being shifted to part-time work of less than 30 hours a week, which allows their employers to avoid paying for their health insurance under provisions of the president’s national health insurance program. […]

Adds the [Emanuel] spokeswoman: “It is very unfortunate that the SEIU leadership has decided to spend a half-million dollars on an investigation to smear the mayor instead of focusing their attention on helping their members, organizing the new janitors at O’Hare or providing other important job resources. The mayor remains steadfastly focused on and committed to what really matters: collaborating with labor unions to save and create thousands of new jobs in Chicago, not false attacks and smear campaigns.”

* According to the document, the O’Hare maintenance worker deal signals that Mayor Emanuel is…

using the City’s procurement process to take advantage of a loophole in Obamacare to jettison the health insurance costs of many city contract work. Essentially, Rahm is doing the same thing to city contract workers that Applebee’s, Denny’s, Papa John’s Pizza and so many other Right Wing nationalemployers have announced they are doing to their workers in the lead-up to the implementation of Obamacare.

In the coming months, the national news will be dominated by these types of stories. We feel strongly that Rahm Emanuel can be made the national “poster child” for Neo-Liberals who are hell-bent on adopting these regressive policies that are designed solely to delay or even stop the implementation of Obamacare.

* The budget

* Background from Progress Illinois

For several weeks, the workers, represented by SEIU* Local 1, and their advocates have called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to rebid a contract with a janitorial company that slashed hourly wages to $11.90 from a pay range of $12.05 to $15.45. The $99 million contract also cuts employee health benefits, changing them from family health care plans to individual plans that cost hundreds of dollars more to include family members. The city is not saving any money under the contract, according to SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff, because the funds that pay for the contract comes from the airport’s airlines.

The contract also failed to ensure that the workers, many of whom have worked at O’Hare for several years, would keep their jobs; instead allowing the company to offer an “open enrollment” process, which required the workers to reapply for their jobs. Only a handful, approximately 20 to 30, of the more than 300 workers have been rehired to continue working at the airport.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Fair Share - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 9:45 am:

    Tom, where do the airport’s airlines get their money? Just because it’s not taxpayer money does not mean custodial workers should be paid more than market rates. You have a blissfull isolationist view of the competitive world economy. You will be exposed as the “bully” you are. The air traveling public is the same as the tax paying public, they don’t want to pay more than they have to for anything.

  2. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 9:53 am:

    IMO this is all a lot of noise unless there can be a Harold Washington-esque candidate who can appeal to minorities and lakefront liberals to oppose Rahm in 2015.

  3. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 9:54 am:

    I’d agree that preference added for existing workers and protections against skirting Obamacare should have been in the contract. I think the argument that the city isn’t saving any money doesn’t do them any good, though. By lowering costs, that’s money that makes it cheaper to fly into O’Hare which will bring more visitors to the city. Also, even if there was no net benefit to the city, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a duty to minimize the costs they impose on businesses in their jurisdiction. Just because the city can impose a high cost doesn’t mean they should.

  4. - Brendan - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:07 am:

    The average American does not know what Liberal actually means - much less Neo-Liberal.

    Their money will be well spent.


  5. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:07 am:

    I read that the GOP is targeting unions in the Midwest with success, but last time I checked, there was a D behind Rahm’s name…he brings the scorn upon himself…darn janitors making $15/hr.
    why, that’s almost enough to live on…the airport has always been a cash cow for the City and he should look elsewhere for efficiencies…

  6. - OneMan - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:11 am:

    Good luck with that SEIU, think it is going to be a waste of money.

  7. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    Rahm Emanuel using a contract to skirt Obamacare?

    That’s rich.

  8. - walkinfool - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:59 am:

    The criticism is justified, but the money will be wasted.

    The impact will be zero, until an real alternative to Rahm emerges.

  9. - Fair Share - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 11:06 am:

    Maybe Balanoff should run for Mayor. Oh wait - he’d have to move out of his mansion in the northshore.

  10. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 11:27 am:

    Good for Tom. It’s time to expose all the phonies who continue to claim they stand for the middle class. I’d like to know what happened to Rahm’s DC talking points on Obamacare and helping the poor and middle class. At least Tom is true to what he stands for.

  11. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    –“And at the airport, he’s not saving (taxpayers) money, he’s saving airlines money,”–

    And putting money in the pocket of that great working-class hero, Richard Simon.

    Google “Richard Simon, Teamsters, United Services, Ben Stein, Murder.”

    Obviously, the best choice for your tax dollars.

  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 3:35 pm:

    Isn’t it ironic that SEIU will drop half a million bucks on advertising to protect their members’ public funding..??

  13. - 1776 - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 3:51 pm:

    Please, please, please ask Tom why union employees are receiving more than 50 percent of the waivers from Obamacare? I’d like him to address why such a disproportionate share of union members are receiving waivers from the law’s requirements.

    Unions already received a generous concession in the health care bill. Their generous “cadilac” insurance plans were exempted from being taxed until 2018, adding about $120 billion to the bill’s cost over ten years. So, let’s see, $120 BILLION of the nation’s debt is because union cadillac plans were exempted from the new tax!


  14. - jimbo26 - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 9:06 pm:

    At $11.90 per hour the employee who has 2 kids is now Medicaid eligible. So neighbors, you are providing the money for the healthcare of the workers Rahm is sticking it to.

  15. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:31 pm:

    Balanoff or Rahm. Talk about a clash of egos.

    word, the irony in SEIU defending Dick Simon’s “outfit” is stunning as you note.

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