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Clinton at Labor Day Rally: “We will be absolutely strong in our support for unions”

photos by Andy Abeyta, QUAD-CITY TIMES

photos by Andy Abeyta, QUAD-CITY TIMES

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spent Labor Day at a picnic in Northwest Illinois celebrating with union members and leaders, inclduing International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) President Lonnie R. Stephenson and United Auto Workers (UAW) President Dennis Williams. Secretary Clinton attended the event for the second year in a row and praised labor unions anew

Flanked by union leaders and Illinois Democrats, including Illinois Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth and longtime Sen. Dick Durbin, Clinton pledged to defend unions by stymying attempts to roll back collective bargaining, standing up to unfair trade deals such as the TPP, stopping pension cuts, and fighting right-to-work laws.

“Unions helped build the largest middle class in the history of the world in our country,” Clinton told the crowd gathered at the Illiniwek Campground on the banks of the Mississippi River. “They fought for fair wages, safe working conditions — they’ve helped so many people get on that rung to the middle class.”

Clinton received the IBEW’s endorsement back in June. In an editorial, Mr. Stephenson contrasted Clinton’s union-friendly past with Donald Tump’s list of anti-labor Supreme Court nominees:

“A vote for Clinton is a vote for a candidate who has stood by unions in the past and sees us as partners in the future,” Stephenson and International Secretary-Treasurer Salvatore J. Chilia wrote in an Electrical Worker editorial.

They noted Clinton’s support for worker-friendly judges and regulators, her commitment to massive infrastructure investments and her support for collective bargaining rights and strengthening unions. And Stephenson and Chilia pointed to her opponent Donald Trump’s published list of potential Supreme Court nominees as an imminent threat to unions and working people. “A vote for Trump is a vote to put a union-buster on the Supreme Court — simple as that,” they wrote.

At the picnic, Williams and Stephenson spoke about growing income inequality and the challenging times ahead:

“It’s a great divide,” Mr. Williams said. “When I first started here in Rock Island, the Case company’s CEO pay compared to the average American worker was about 40 times.

“Today, it’s over 300 times. So, the gap has just grown so much, and when you see that the middle class is shrinking, it isn’t because people aren’t working. They’re working for less. They’re working two jobs to make ends meet. They’re on the border of poverty.”

The solution, according to Clinton? Protecting the right to collective action:

“We will be absolutely strong in our support for unions. We know that nobody gets through life alone,” she said.


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