Flanked by more than 20 city officials, the mayor said the worst recession in 70 years has had a huge negative impact on Chicagos tax revenues.
In the last two years the city has cut more than $400 million in spending. Many city workers wages have been cut through unpaid holidays, mandatory unpaid furloughs, reductions in health care, and compensating overtime work with extra time off instead of pay.
Dozens of working people spoke at the hearing held at the North Grand High School. Several argued for the city to redirect its priorities to quality affordable housing, especially for the elderly. Others spoke of the need to improve city-funded mental health facilities, which have deteriorated because of budget cuts in recent years.
The proposals these Democratic and Republican party politicians are making for job combinations and reductions in city services show that the living standards, wages, and working conditions of Chicagos working class are not their priorities, Hawkins said.
They try to convince us that their spending proposals are in the interests of everyone. But thats not true. Their priorities are in the interests of one class the capitalist classand not in the interests of our classthe working class, emphasized Hawkins. Thats why about 20 percent of their $3.4 billion budget goes to service the debt owed to a tiny handful of bondholders.
We need a labor party, based on a fighting union movement, that puts workers interests first. Thats a course toward taking political power from the capitalists who exploit us.
The Socialist Workers Party urges the union movement and all working people to join us in demanding: No cuts in city services; No layoffs of city workers; Give city workers back the 24 furlough days; Hands off the pensions of city workers.
In response to Hawkinss comments on the furlough days, several workers in the audience exclaimed, Thats right! Many applauded after he finished speaking. Several stopped to take campaign literature and buy copies of the Militant as they left the hearing.
The morning before the hearing the socialist candidate joined a picket line and rally outside state attorney general Lisa Madigans office demanding immediate hearings for 23 African American and Latino men in Illinois prisons convicted on the basis of false confessions extracted from them by cop torturers.
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