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“It was a life-changing experience"

4/28/2015
Maureen Lowry-Fritz is an attorney, a mom, a college instructor, and a proud new member of the Rock Valley College Faculty Association, IFT Local 6211.
 
Growing up in a union family, she understood the importance of unions from an early age. But until she attended a City Council meeting in Naperville on Tuesday to speak out against the Governor’s “turnaround” resolution, she said she hadn’t really felt what it meant to be part of one.
 
“You can understand legally. You can understand politically. You can even hear the talk about it at your family dinner table, but going to that meeting took it to a completely different level. I was suddenly not just in the union, but I was united in a common bond with electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, operating engineers, and many others. It felt like a family reunion,” she said.
 
Lowry-Fritz was among the hundreds of union and community members who filled the city council chambers and overflowed into the Naperville City Hall lobby this week to oppose Governor Rauner’s “right-to-work” agenda. A resident of the Naperville area, when she saw the IFT’s email alert about the meeting in her community, she simply said “I’ve gotta go.”
 
“Rauner’s “local empowerment” ordinance is cloaked in a positive-sounding title, but it is a purposeful deception. When you dress up ordinances and laws by calling them “local empowerment” and “right to work,” you’re trying to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes about what these proposals really do, which is eliminate workers’ right to collectively bargain. Just like I do with my students, we have to explain the realities to people.”
 
At the Naperville meeting, Lowry-Fritz wanted to be sure that city council members understood the negative affect these laws could have on her community and how taxpayers could be unfairly impacted. As an attorney, she also wanted to make note of the Governor’s suspicious tactics.
 
“Rauner’s trying to use a bottom-up approach to get his proposals passed by going through municipalities, rather than take the appropriate top-down approach by following the state legislative process. It’s deceitful and possibly illegal. If lawsuits result in communities that pass this resolution, are the taxpayers there going to have to foot the bill?” she asked.
 
After listening to Lowry-Fritz and more than two dozen others speak in opposition, the Naperville City Council voted to indefinitely table the resolution.
 
She was so energized by the experience of bonding with other people and being part of the collective action, Lowry-Fritz is planning to attend more meetings to help educate the community and their elected officials about the realities of Rauner’s intentions.
 
“Our own city council members told us that they would have been ready to vote on this, but because we came out and talked to them, they needed to know more first. That was so telling. They said they didn’t know about the things we told them and didn’t have enough time to consider it prior to the meeting."
 
If we hadn’t showed up in huge numbers and spoken out together for our common cause as union members and community members, this would have passed, she said.
 
“By coming together in force, we made all the difference. It was a life-changing experience.”

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