Signs supporting America’s labor movement have been sprouting up on the lawns of region homeowners.
The red, white and blue “Proud Union Home” displays were unveiled shortly before Labor Day by the Chicago Federation of Labor for households as a way to show their pride and solidarity on being union members. The response across Chicagoland has been “overwhelming,” said Chicago Federation of Labor spokesman Nick Kaleba.
Kaleba said a precursor to the signs was “a lot of frustration built up” from situations such as the Illinois Caterpillar strike, Chicago teachers strike, and the passing of the right-to-work law in Indiana.
Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council business manager Randy Palmateer said his council bought about 5,000 signs shortly before the November elections and they were scooped up within weeks.
“It caught on like wildfire,” he said. “We are encouraging our members to keep them up year-round. It’s not something that’s going away just because the election is over.”
Palmateer, a registered lobbyist for the building trades, said a new session is coming up at the Statehouse, where a lot of anti-labor sentiment continues.
“What went on there before unified us, not divided us,” he said. “We still have a big fight ahead of us.”
United Steelworkers District 7 Director Jim Robinson said the signs have been “flying out the door” of union halls.
“It’s a way of people expressing their pride in their union,” he said. “It’s a statement that we’re proud union people who want to make a statement after right-to-work passed. Based on my experience in talking to some of our political leaders in Indianapolis, I know they don’t understand unions and they don’t understand what we do. I also think they think that union members are just a handful of people in Northwest Indiana when we’re really across the state and we are an important part of our economy and our community. We want people to know that.”
Jim Loftis, business agent for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 460, Painters Local 460, said there’s been a great response to the signs.
“The members are proud of the union they belong too and what we stand for,” he said. “We just want people to know we’re proud of who we are and what we represent. We want the working class men and women in this country and in Northwest Indiana to make a fair wage under good working conditions.”