07/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Radio Hosts Pull Chicago Labor Unions Together For "Salute To Labor"

On the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, a local Progressive radio host and national Progressive media star teamed together to fight for the American worker Saturday during a Chicago-based "Salute To Labor" live radio broadcast.

Chicago's Progressive Talk, AM 820/FM 92.5/92.7/99.9, aired the special edition of Dick Kay's "Back on the Beat" radio program Saturday, with Kay and guest host, national talker Ed Schultz, originating from the Operating Engineers Labor Hall in Chicago.

The three-hour-long broadcast came on the heels of Mayor Daley's warning yesterday to 40-plus city labor unions that they could suffer layoffs of 1,100 union jobs if they don't make severe concessions in the face of major budget cuts. This news came despite evidence published and aired by local media that many of the 50 local aldermen took pay raises in the last 2 years' budgets. Local labor leaders from Chicago's major unions appeared on the broadcast to plead their case and publicize what they see as unfair sacrifices being levied on working men and women, when non-union and management jobs have not been required so far to make such concessions.

In the hall, members of the statewide AFSCME and AFL-CIO unions as well as Chicago's local unions packed in to highlight that Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois legislature have yet to pass a state budget and a capital bill that would have preserved union jobs. "We failed," declared Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan, in discussing last week's budget impasse over the Capital bill. More than 10 major leaders called on Governor Quinn to sign the Capital bill that they pulled together to get passed through the Illinois legislature. Many of them repeated the mantra that its time to sign the Capital bill and get the workers back to work.

The Capital bill, for which labor leaders had received a commitment from Governor Quinn to sign if they had it passed by May 22nd, 2009. Quinn has yet to sign the bill.

For the second part of the program, Kay discussed with Schultz how national Democrats have wavered on supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, despite an unprecedented turnout from organized labor to elect President Obama and down-ticket Democrats across the country. Schultz opened the second hour asking Chicago Federation of Labor Leaders "what if the Employee Free Choice Act doesn't get passed?" Dennis Gannon, local Chicago Federation of Labor President, responded "if they don't get it (EFCA) passed, the national AFL-CIO President will have to go shopping for new friends, and that means on both sides of the aisles."

Regular moderator Kay also led a discussion about Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, which organized labor unions stand to gain a major share of jobs under a collective bargaining "100% union" construction agreement. To date, local leaders have insisted that zero local tax dollars will be spent on building construction projects, being fronted by sponsorships and broadcast licensing revenues. It was revealed during the broadcast, however, that union pension funds will be putting up much of the money to construct the Olympic Village on the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital if Chicago wins the bid.

Finally, a wide ranging discussion on Health Care reform wrapped up the last portion of the live broadcast, with leaders noting that reforms are necessary in order to help all Americans.

The event, aired live on Chicago's Progressive Talk's local radio airwaves and from its web site was co-sponsored by several local unions participating in the event. In the past year organized labor has financially supported Progressive Talk Radio programming in Chicago and for Schultz at a level greater than in previous years. Both Kay and Schultz have on their shows been vehement supporters of organized labor, having hosted major labor leaders on their shows to highlight labor issues and get status reports on pending legislation, throughout their broadcast's histories.