Springfield, IL - More than 125 unions in Illinois have officially endorsed Gov. JB Pritzker's graduated income tax proposal going into Labor Day weekend. The union leaders feel Illinois' flat tax structure is "fundamentally wrong."
They say workers making less than $250,000 a year deserve a break.
"Hundreds of thousands of working people put their lives and livelihoods at risk during the COVID to keep Illinois going," Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea said. "Yet, they still pay the same tax rate as millionaires and billionaires, and pay more in taxes as a share of their income."
Illinois AFL-CIO members endorsed the "Fair Tax" plan last year, as they felt the current structure puts too much pressure on the working class. The Chicago Federation of Labor agrees, emphasizing the deck is stacked against most Illinoisans.
"Workers need support right now, more than ever," CFL President Bob Reiter said. "Economic inequality has been increasing for decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a bad situation and made it worse."
Fighting for fairness
Union support for Pritzker's plan goes beyond Chicago and the collar counties. Southern Illinois laborers say they need a tax break too.
"We're not just endorsing the Fair Tax reform, we're encouraging all of our members, our families, friends and neighbors to understand how important this is to our families in this region," explained IBEW Local 702 Business Manager Steve Hughart.
One of the largest groups endorsing the graduated income tax represents the healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.
"These workers, like all workers, deserve stronger communities, more opportunities for their families, and access to the care and services that supports children, aging parents and our overall health," SEIU Healthcare President Greg Kelly emphasized.
Teachers are also fighting to change the tax structure to raise roughly $3 billion of new revenue. Members of the Federation of Teachers hope the revenue can help fund schools and stronger infrastructure across Illinois.
"If this state is going to grow and thrive, and we're going to offer a promising future to our children, we have got to pass the Fair Tax amendment," said IFT President Dan Montgomery.
The unions represent more than a million laborers across the state. And the final countdown is on for them to spread the word, as early voting starts on September 24.