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Pritzker addresses racism in unions that endorsed him

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* As we discussed earlier, JB Pritzker appeared on WVON yesterday with Maze Jackson and Charles Thomas.

During the interview, Maze broached the issue of the building trades…

Maze Jackson: You got the endorsement of the… building trades. The building trades council. Now, we know that in the black community there has been systemic racism…

JBP: That’s right

MJ: …within. Wait. What? Within the building trades.

* Jackson seemed stunned by Pritzker’s possible candor (or just an admission that he was endorsed by them), but didn’t follow up directly. Instead he asked how he was going to fix the systemic racial problems within the building trades. Charles Thomas cut Pritzker off to ask how he expected black peoples’ support when Pritzker was being backed by unions that many blacks consider racist…

JBP: Here’s what I would say. Building trades certainly are completely, there are not enough African-Americans in the building trades, in the apprenticeships…

CT: [Cross-talk] So, why would you accept their endorsement?

JBP: …or in pre-apprenticeship programs. Hold on. There are good people who are in the building trades who are not racists, who are trying to, yes, who are skilled labor, who want to make the building trades more diverse. But, here’s the problem. The state of Illinois, when it contracts, when it has a capital bill, when it does any kind of construction, it actually doesn’t live up to the obligation to make sure that there are [Thomas tries to interject], to make sure that there are African-American building trades working on these projects. [Cross talk as Thomas asks what he’s going to do.] Listen, I have consistently said, all of them that are endorsing me, I have consistently raised this issue. By the way, some of them have raised it with me, their effort to make changes. But it’s not good enough. The state of Illinois needs to require that the building trades, when they’re doing business with the state, that they increase the number of African-Americans that are… [Cross talk] …

CT: Did you even consider not accepting their endorsement as an act of good faith to the black community?

JBP: Better I think to have a dialogue that increases their awareness, making sure that they’re adhering to it. I think you have a governor who cares about it, who is influencing them at the state level, that is a better way to go.

Gov. Rauner has made an issue of this since the beginning of his administration. But without a capital bill, it’s somewhat difficult to do anything about it.

* Watch the clip


  1. - Henry Francis - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:02 pm:

    The Guv has raised a lot of issues trying to appear sympathetic to the black community and economic issues. But just like his hiring record at GTCR, he hasn’t done anything to back up the talk.

    The guy who the Guv hired to address minority entrepreneurship just bailed on him saying “Prior to accepting this position, I always stated I would step down in my role if I believed the Illinois’ leadership towards helping the community was no longer a genuine priority. Unfortunately, that day has come,”,amp.html

  2. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:04 pm:

    The building trades used to run apprentice programs at Washburne Academy (later absorbed into the City Colleges of Chicago) and Kennedy-King College in particular. The “systemic racism” issue was hotly debated and many trades pulled out over the “quota” demands that so many union cards had to be issued to minorities. A few argued that “social promotion” schemes were at fault in that unqualified apprentices wanted to be passed despite failing to demonstrate skills on tests.

    Once the building trades departed, Kennedy King substituted restaurant training programs.

    It is easier to cry “racism” than to analyze the full picture. There was fault on all sides.

  3. - Seriously - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    So you are trying to make JB look like a racist for taking a union endorsement is this guy for real this is the dumbest thing I’ve heard today

  4. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:09 pm:

    ===look like a racist for taking a union endorsement===

    Ever been to a trade union hall?

  5. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:10 pm:

    Building trades endorsed Pritzker for governor. Pritzker didn’t endorse the building trades for hiring blacks.

  6. - Hit Em With the Hein - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:10 pm:

    Any ideas how JB is doing in West and South Side of Chicago? I would think the black/hispanic community there isn’t haven’t it. Will they endorse Kennedy or an outsider who actually will owe them something like the union supporting Daiber? I wouldn’t think the progressive math professor or the alderman would play well in the black community. These guys are all looking for an African-American Lt. gov right?!

  7. - Anon0091 - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:15 pm:

    Boy he handled that well. No backing down. No hemming and hawing.

  8. - Rocky Rosi - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:17 pm:

    Wow. I will give him a pass because he is new at this.

  9. - Free Set of Steak Knives - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:17 pm:

    Any campaign foolish enough to agree to a Maze Jackson interview deserves to botch it this badly.

    You just called the folks who endorsed you — some of them at least — racist.

    Not a good day.

  10. - Annonin' - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    Mr/Ms Free…Knives
    Never forget strollin’ into DH Browns one quiet afternoon and there Maze lappin’ up some freebies from one of DopeyDuct stooges. Gettin’ spotted did not go well.

  11. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:23 pm:

    == Did you even consider not accepting their endorsement as an act of good faith to the black community? ==

    This sort of totalitarian, mutually exclusive thinking is what cost the Democrats the 2016 election. Props to JB for trying to build consensus instead of taking the bait further jettisoning the white working class from the Democratic Party.

  12. - Captain Illini - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:26 pm:

    HF raises a good point, one that I might echo that it takes those with skills to seek out being part of the building trades as well as those in the building trades to seek out qualified African Americans to take part. There are other trades or specialized areas like Landscape Forman or Landscape Architecture that you could count on one hand which happen to be African American…it doesn’t necessarily mean those professions are racist…it means there aren’t any available candidates to fill those jobs.

  13. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:29 pm:

    Where Pritzker used candor is probably a great way for Pritzker to use that lack of a capital program that Rauner seems to think saying you want something to change and actually having a vehicle to make the change possible, that’s flipping the script, and it’s also embracing the trades too.

    Can the Pritzker Crew show serious game in flipping the script here and highlight Rauner’s broken promise in turning a tight double play?

  14. - cdog - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 4:43 pm:

    “CT: Did you even consider not accepting their endorsement as an act of good faith to the black community?”

    Sounding a little street-wise there, implying, “my squad or their’s.”

    But JBP had a good response. I think his final line was spot-on and seemed genuine.

    Did anyone see United Shades of American on CNN, Sunday? That guy did a decent job of going onto the streets of Chicago and talking to the self-labeled gangbangers. Very eye-opening and worth the watch.

  15. - Dem - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 5:12 pm:

    Isn’t Maze Jackson a Rauner guy?

  16. - City Zen - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 5:32 pm:

    Diversity spreads when there is diversity in leadership. What do the trade unions do to promote their few minority members into leadership roles? Because trade union leadership is pretty much comprised of old white males. They’ve had decades to change and have willfully chosen not to. Not just race, but gender.

  17. - PublicServant - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 5:48 pm:

    What has Rauner done to promote black leadership in his administration?

  18. - PublicServant - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 5:51 pm:

    Where’s the diversity at GTCR?

  19. - cdog - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 6:16 pm:

    Goodness, City Zen, seriously?

    “They’ve had decades to change and have willfully chosen not to. Not just race, but gender.”

    There is a good argument for pushing back against the lack of race diversity in the trades, but not gender.

    I for one, have never had any intention to make a living carrying 80lb bags of concrete mix, 55lb 5 gal buckets of paint, or playing gymnast walking on the top of a wall plate or roof trusses. There are not too many women that can physically compete with the demands of the job and the few that can, and want to, are probably already out there doing it.

    There should be, however, be pressure at all levels to get the young black men of Chicago some skills and jobs, and some opportunities to live the American dream.

  20. - City Zen - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 6:37 pm:

    ==There is a good argument for pushing back against the lack of race diversity in the trades, but not gender.==

    Not so fast:

  21. - Mad dog - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 7:47 pm:

    hey city zen, obviously your not in construction industry. There are Hispanic elected officials in every trade in Chicagoland . And they have been diversifying in their apprentice programs. Do everybody a favor and go back to your desk lifting paper clips , we’ll do the hard stuff.

  22. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 8:32 pm:

    Yes indeed. I have ben saying it for decades. The Dem party and its interest groups have done little for the black community.

  23. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 9:07 pm:


    Good lord people, you sound like a bunch of gossipy nitpickers who’d rather have Rauner as governor just so you can feel morally superior.

    Focus! Stop playing around. Get a candidate, support them, and get rid of Rauner.

  24. - City Zen - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 10:22 pm:

    @Mad dog - Fantastic. Where is it reflected in leadership? And where are the women leaders?

    Sometimes the “hard stuff” is upstairs. I mean that figuratively, of course. Visit sometime.

  25. - Yiddishcowboy - Tuesday, May 16, 17 @ 11:04 pm:

    @VM: Good lord, indeed. “Amen” to what you said. Oy!

  26. - Spliff - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 7:28 am:

    In the city and suburbs in order to get into an apprentice program you have to have a letter of intent to hire from a contractor to get into the program. What good is being in the program if no contractor will hire you. It isn’t only the systemic racism of the trade unions but the contractors as well.

  27. - Free Set of Steak Knives - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 7:38 am:

    There is a serious policy discussion to Ben had about diversification of the labor force.

    Maze Jackson’s show is not the place to have it.

    Maze Jackson is an ally of Governor Rauner’s.

    Maze Jackson is a Democratic Party basher.

    Maze Jackson is a union basher.

    And Pritzker seemed totally unprepared.

    Those were not good answers.

    “I reject the racist argument put forward by the Republican Party that black votes are for sale, that the African american community engages in wide spread voter fraud.

    That argument dates back to the heydays of the KKK, and it belongs in the trash heap of history.”

  28. - Bored Chairman - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 8:45 am:

    Spliff you’re dead wrong. Contractors don’t pick. Unions do. Nice try deflecting the blame. To the post, why don’t these reporters ask members of the black caucus why they accept union money and support, and consistently vote for any union backed legislation? Crickets.

  29. - DeseDemDose - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 8:56 am:

    Maze Jackson is a Rauner Flunky. Nothing more, Nothing less. Democrats will be United.

  30. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 17, 17 @ 9:21 am:

    Maze is Maze’s guy.

    I noticed that many of you focused on Maze, but none mentioned Charles Thomas, who had the more pointed questions.

    Typical partisan deflection. Stop it. Up your games.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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