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The Coming Street Fight

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 17, 2007 2:50PM

2007_1_fight.jpgSince the news yesterday was dominated with Obama's big tease, a story that has been brewing for a while might have been missed, even if you follow politics pretty closely. Chicago unions, led by break-away schismatic the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and their supporters, have not only withheld endorsing Daley, but are actively targeting aldermen in a series of wards where they think are ripe for change.

Citing a whole list of grievances with Daley and the aldermen that they charge are his rubber stamp, grievances that include the privatization of city services, a long contract dispute with city workers and the mayor's veto of the big-box ordinance, SEIU and its allied unions led the vote that withheld an endorsement of Daley by the Chicago Federation of Labor. The building trades, on the other hand, mostly stuck with Daley but aren't happy, charging that Daley saw the writing on the wall when corporations coughed up millions of dollars for Millennium Park.

As if turning out tens of thousands of people to vote in February weren't enough, many of the power brokers that came together over the big-box ordinance and Todd Stroger on the South and West sides are beating their chests, calling out the building trades for not having more black members (a fair complaint). We're skeptical of some of the reasons that the unions have for not endorsing Daley, although mobilizing their membership to change some of the leadership in the City Council is probably a good idea, and SEIU wouldn't do it if they didn't think they could win. We find it laughable that the daughter of William Beavers, Darcel Beavers, has anything to say about jobs in her ward, since she and her father haven't done anything but try to turn the city and county payrolls into a jobs farm for their patronage workers — hardly economic progress in the ward. In the end, we think the machine sees its chance to pin down and weaken the unions, especially those representing public employees, and the unions see their chance to raise the stakes a little bit. Overall, this split in loyalties has been a long time coming.