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Local 73 To Elmhurst Officials: "We Demand Dignity"

by Joe Richert and Tom Burke |
October 1, 1999
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Elmhurst, IL - Three hundred members of the Service Employees International Union Local 73 extended Labor Day to Tuesday by showing up at a Dignity Rally in front of City Hall. Local 73 slammed the unfair treatment of union sisters and brothers who work for the city's Public Works Department.

The city has a management rights clause that allows workers to be transferred at the drop of a hat to other departments in public works, even though they might not be qualified or trained for that particular position.

The union is also fighting for a progressive discipline policy, instead of the arbitrary punishment system that now exists. Union activists are being singled out for rough treatment. Contract negotiations have been going on for eight months with little progress. Chris Kragel, the chief steward, stated, "This is all about fairness and workers' rights!"

The picket line moved into the City Council Chambers where union President Tom Balanoff addressed the Council. He demanded that the city treat its employees with dignity, respect, and fairness. He also told workers that this dispute can be settled; but if not, "we will return to get what we deserve."

The Local 73 public employee choir then serenaded the City Council with Solidarity Forever ("For the union makes us strong!") as they filed out of the Council chamber. A celebration party with 1000 sliders, beer, and two raffles, was held afterwards. More protests are planned if the city continues to drag its feet on settling the contract.