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Union-backed Pritzker criticized for not supporting grad student unions

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2018

* Sen. Daniel Biss has been issuing statements of support for graduate student unionization efforts throughout his campaign. JB Pritzker showed up to a picket line at UIUC the other day. WCIA TV’s Mark Maxwell’s report

Billionaire philanthropist J.B. Pritzker who inherited much of his wealth gave a record $100 million donation to Northwestern University in 2015. A graduate student who teaches there says that gift should have come with conditions that the administration acknowledges the graduate student union.

“I live paycheck to paycheck because graduate stipends are barely sufficient to pay my rent, living expenses, and my student loans,” says Jessica Creery, a Ph.D., candidate who says her medical research on epilepsy and Alzheimer’s yielded five million dollars in grant money for the school.

When an accounting error interrupted her paycheck last fall, she says her life nearly went into a tailspin. […]

Creery, who is supporting Daniel Biss in the Democratic primary race, criticized Pritzker for not publicly supporting the efforts of the Northwestern Union Graduate Workers — a union group the school does not yet recognize in collective bargaining.

* Maxwell caught up to Pritzker

Reporter: Your name adorns the campuses at Northwestern and University of Chicago, you’re a donor there. How would you describe your clout on those campuses and how have you used that to support unions, because unionization efforts have been resisted on those two campuses? What would you say about those efforts?

Pritzker: Well, I don’t know about the University of Chicago because I have not been involved at all there. At Northwestern, I’m an alumnus of Northwestern Law School, I’m proud of my own work there and also of the work they do to train lawyers and much of the program that I supported at Northwestern was really aimed at the Center on Wrongful Convictions, at the um… and the organizations that are standing up for our immigrants…

Reporter: But on unionization there?

Pritzker: I have not at all been involved in that.

It goes on for a while longer. Have a look.

…Adding… Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen…

J.B. stands firmly on the side of graduate students in their fight to unionize and has put forward real plans in this campaign to put Springfield back on the side of working families. That’s why J.B. is the only candidate endorsed by the IFT, IEA, statewide Illinois AFL-CIO, and over 30 individual unions and he looks forward to standing with them as governor to defend our labor movement and help workers in Illinois thrive.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

31 Comments
  1. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:03 am:

    Pritzker is endorsed by the IFT, which organizes grad teachers.

    Union leaders on campus are fools to allow Biss to usurp their voice, and that Biss would manipulate them speaks poorly of his actual support for their efforts.

    If the grad students want the support of a powerful alum, they might have tried sending him a letter asking for a meeting.

    Just a reminder that if Biss had gotten his way, all union members at public universities would have seen a sweeping rollback of their compensation.

    Other than that, I am speechless.


  2. - PJ - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:07 am:

    Thomas Paine can add “Pritzker spin czar” to “Common Sense” on his resume, it seems


  3. - SaulGoodman - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:09 am:

    **Union leaders on campus are fools to allow Biss to usurp their voice, and that Biss would manipulate them speaks poorly of his actual support for their efforts.**

    LOL - sure. Biss is manipulating them, and they have no agency of their own. **eye roll**


  4. - Halsted - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:14 am:

    I’m no fan of Pritzker, so if this will resonate with people then sure. Go for it. However, this isn’t really an attack on Pritzker at all. She doesn’t make enough money, so Pritzker’s donation is at fault? Her stipends were interrupted, but if Pritzker had attached unionization to his donation, she’d be fine?

    I can’t even get my head around that.

    This comes off as another desperate attempt by the Biss campaign, but in reality makes me even more comfortable with my decision for Kennedy.


  5. - fly - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:21 am:

    Dan Biss was a professor there. What did he do?
    Kennedy was the president of U of I. What did he do? This is another BS attack on JB that should not get air time.


  6. - A State Employee Guy - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:23 am:

    The IFT, like most unions, endorsed the democrat most likely to get elected, not the democrat most aligned with organized labor. That’s one approach, I suppose.


  7. - City Zen - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    == A graduate student who teaches there says that gift should have come with conditions that the administration acknowledges the graduate student union.==

    Was the “Northwestern Union Graduate Workers” in existence when JB made his donation in 2015? Social media says NUGW wasn’t formed until 2016.


  8. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:26 am:

    Nit meet Pick.


  9. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    Oh come on Creery. That’s a ridiculous assertion.
    He’s absolutely not “against the unions”
    I see Pritzker as the only way my Union
    AFSCME
    Is going to survive
    If Rauner wins
    We all,
    all Labor in Illinois could be destroyed.
    As an Northwestern alum
    I can tell you the quality of my education
    Was directly improved by the Pritzker family.
    No…
    Your little stunt here is perfidy
    8 days before Biss loses
    And you’re going to pull this?
    Just my opinion
    You should re examine your understanding
    Of collective action
    You got played by Biss Management.
    Also check your privilege
    Thousands of jobs are on the line
    Thousands
    If Rauner wins.
    You want to gamble with those jobs?
    Because Biss resonates on an intellectual and frankly elite educational level?
    Sure he might be what we’d like.
    But that doesn’t matter sister.
    He can’t win against Rauner.
    Go read some Thucydides
    And get back to me.
    Melian Dialogue
    “The strong will do as they will,
    The weak will suffer what they must”
    Politics and collective action
    Aren’t beanbag as Rich says.
    Solidarity sister
    And good luck sincerely
    With your organizing efforts


  10. - A State Employee Guy - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    Honey bear, you realize that labor’s strategy of “pick the most electable” isn’t working, right?


  11. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:16 am:

    I would love to take a look at the amount of union built goods these grads students have.


  12. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:24 am:

    Read, or watch, the whole thing. JB did not come across well.


  13. - City Zen - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    ==I would love to take a look at the amount of union built goods these grads students have.==

    A full ride scholarship for any student whose parents own a car assembled by an American auto manufacturer in a non right-to-work state.


  14. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:07 pm:

    This is why I will vote kennedy


  15. - OneMan - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:17 pm:

    It seems Pritzker wasn’t ready for the question.


  16. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:18 pm:

    City zen. I will be loooking for a huge rebate then.


  17. - Radio Flyer - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:49 pm:

    “I would love to take a look at the amount of union built goods these grad students have.”
    Grad students have “goods?” Wow things have changed a lot since I was a grad student.
    Besides cars, where does one buy “union built goods?” Asking for a (nongradstudent) friend.


  18. - solid - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 1:39 pm:

    State employee Guy, please explain who the Democrat most aligned with labor is and defend your pick.


  19. - A State Employee Guy - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 2:52 pm:

    Kennedy is on board for $15 MW, making a push for more public work to go to MBEs, and had a good track record of using union labor at Merch Mart.

    Biss also supports $15 MW, knows that wage theft is a real thing and passed legislation to fight it, and seeks to allow gig workers among others the right to unionize.

    JB’s family made its fortune exploiting its workers.

    So, Biss, probably.


  20. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 3:10 pm:

    Ummm State Employee Guy
    I’m thinking you
    Are not aware of
    The needs of labor
    Ummmm……wow
    When was the last time
    You went to a meeting of your local?

    Pretty sure you’re not an Afscme
    Sigh
    Ugh


  21. - A State Employee Guy - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 3:30 pm:

    Organized Labor needs more dues-payers. Now as to what the workers need…


  22. - solid - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 3:33 pm:

    Interesting.
    Biss wanted to whack pensions because he could get away with taking them away from state employees.

    Hey, did the Grad employees have any struggles while Kennedy was at U of I? Any trouble forming a union? Any contract disputes? Did Kennedy support them then? (yes and yes and no)

    Funny how you don’t know that JB supports the $15 MW. On policy, JB does align with unions.
    You might want to take a closer look at the positions of all the candidates.


  23. - solid - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 3:35 pm:

    Biss, please! With that crack about dues I’m convinced you’re not a state employee, unless your name is Steve Janus.


  24. - A State Employee Guy - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 4:40 pm:

    Lol, I think if you ask unions, they would say the exact same thing.


  25. - NorthsideNoMore - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 5:37 pm:

    College and other Progressives JB aint your kinda guy… You think he cares about students or unions ? You have choices figure it out or you will looking in from the outside of the double paned glass outside 2nd floor.


  26. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 6:36 pm:

    Radio Flyer. If ya gotta ask. Then your too late. That kinda thinking is why labor is doomed. All the govt protections in the world can’t overcome consumer spending habits. When what’s left of manufacturing and the trade unions disappear, then the public sectors unions will be on life support. The doomsday clock is ticking.


  27. - BlueDogDem - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 6:37 pm:

    6:36 was me.


  28. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 7:04 pm:

    A State Employee Guy,
    Dude you just outed yourself as non union
    Don’t speak for us or what we want or need.
    sit down


  29. - A State Employee Guy - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 8:50 pm:

    You’re rank and file.
    Just a pawn
    In
    A mismanaged system
    It could be better
    But you refuse to admit
    What your union no
    Longer does.


  30. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:52 pm:

    Actually I take your
    use of blank verse
    as a compliment.
    You know I
    as one of many
    will be more
    than the few
    of you


  31. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:53 pm:

    Pick a new name mug


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