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Gubernatorial Candidate Bruce Rauner—and Protesters—"Shake Up" Hamburger Jones in Elmhurst

Bruce Rauner stopped in Elmhurst Saturday afternoon as part of a week-long, 1,000-mile "Shake Up Express" bus tour of Illinois. 

The Republican candidate for governor and his running mate, Evelyn Sanguinetti, rolled into the parking lot at Hamburger Jones in a big blue bus at about 1:30 p.m., but not everyone there to greet them were fans.

While little information was shared in advance about where Rauner would be—an employee of Hamburger Jones said she had heard he was coming only an hour before he arrived—a dozen or so protesters managed to know in time to gather well before Rauner's arrival.

The crowd outside the restaurant, made up of union laborers, union staff, Democratic Party representatives, retirees and others, said they were protesting because they believe Rauner does not have the best interest of the "working man" at heart.

"This is just a peaceful protest against a governor (candidate) who we feel is going to be unfair to the common working man," said Brian Hacker, a member of Local 96 Labor Union and a resident of Warrenville.

They all said they want to see Illinois' minimum wage increased from its current $8.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage requirement is $7.25.

Carol Davis of Villa Park works at the Secretary of State's office and is a member of SEIU Local 73.

"It's outrageous at a time when income inequality is the highest it's ever been that Rauner suggested we should lower the minimum wage in Illinois," she said. 

Rauner has been under fire after a Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce event last week when he said he advocated "moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage" for Illinois to be competitive. Four states have a minimum wage higher than Illinois: Connecticut ($8.70), Oregon ($9.10), Vermont ($8.73) and Washington ($9.32). California and Connecticut minimum wage will increase to $9 July 1, and New York will increase to $8.75 Dec. 31.

He has been answering his critics about his statement ever since. On Saturday, he clarified that he does not want to lower the minimum wage, and would support an increase to $10, but he wants minimum wage to be uniform nationally.

"I am on record and I'm clear," he said. "I support raising the minimum wage if it's done at the national level, so Illinois then is competitive and equal with the other states," he said. "That's the critical thing."

He said if that is not possible, he still would support a minimum wage increase, but it would have to be done "along with business reform, workers comp reform, tax reform and tort reform," he said. 

But most of the protesters outside Hamburger Jones said $10 an hour wouldn't be enough.

"Fifteen dollars is a fair wage, a living wage," said Remzi Jaos of SEIU Local 73. "Not even $10 is going to cut it. It's just not enough in the state of Illinois. How are you going to pay rent? Feed your children?"

Glen Ellyn resident Marian Tomlinson and her husband, Gary, are both retired. They advocate for a minimum wage of $10 immediately, increasing gradually from there.

Gary was a physicist at Bell Labs in Naperville, then ran a scrap metal business for 17 years. He said a passerby began discussing the difficulties employers face having to pay $10 an hour. But Tomlinson doesn't buy it.

"I hired employees, and I paid $10 an hour and more. You can do it," Tomlinson said.

Davis, of Union Local 73, says businesses get all the benefits while workers suffer.

"People are starving. People are losing their homes. People are having trouble sending their kids to school," she said. "It really upsets me. When businesses don't give workers enough money, the worker suffers, but the economy also suffers because there is no money to pump into it, and our state has to pick up the public problem."

She said most lower-paid workers are on government assistance.

"There is no reason businesses should get the advantage while the state has to pay for food stamps," she said.

Rauner, who is a self-made millionaire, said his critics don't like to see that his message of running the state like a business and "shaking up Springfield" is resonating with people because most are part of special interest groups.

"They are making their money from government," he said. "They're here because we're going to shake up those special deals they've got with the corrupt politicians. We are going to stand up and fight for the voters and taxpayers, and they don't like us shaking up the status quo." 

He said the first thing he will do when he gets to Springfield is bring in experts in government operations, health care and education.

"That's what (Gov.) Mitch Daniels did when he turned around the state of Indiana," Rauner said. "He's a role model for what I want to do. He brought in 30 superstars from the business community in Indiana and ran the government more like a business, so it's efficient, effective and transparent. That's what I want to do."

This was not Rauner's first visit to Elmhurst. Read what he had to say at Elmhurst College last JuneGov. Candidate Bruce Rauner: It is Totally Within Our Ability to Fix Illinois

Justin Leiter January 11, 2014 at 10:00 PM
Based on last year's tax returns, Bruce Rauner makes the hourly minimum wage every FIVE seconds. He's just an out of touch rich guy who can't beat Quinn.
J January 12, 2014 at 10:00 AM
Hey Justin, what public union do you or someone in your family belong to? I guess we'll see if he can or can't beat Quinn. If he can't, it will be because of the help of the public unions. IEA, IFT, AFSCME, etc. Those unions whose goal, it appears, is to pillage thru their political lobbyists, etc. the hard earned tax dollars of those citizens that don't belong to the public unions.
Dan Bailey January 12, 2014 at 10:53 PM
Interesting you complain of unions in politics. In Wisconsin big business outspent unions in the recall election 6 to 1. I don't think of unions as special interests. They are a way to balance the outsized advantage and power that business has over a working guy or gal, a kind of democratizing force. I think of big business like banks, coal, railroads and oil companies as special interests, which is what the term originally meant. We will see who will win. but if Rauner were to win it would be because he bought the election. Why should his money have more power than we middle class folks do?
Lorriane January 13, 2014 at 10:22 AM
I have no problem with private sector unions but public sector unions do considerable damage. Especially since they hold the taxpayer hostage. We can't even say no to outrageous demands or they just go on strike.
Dan Bailey January 13, 2014 at 12:39 PM
Do people who work for the gov't have fewer rights? Should they be allowed to organize and negotiate for their wages and working conditions or take whatever is offered? Public sector unions get blamed when they are not at fault. For example, the current pension crisis is largely not due to public sector workers but rather a pattern of irresponsibility on the part of elected officials of both parties starting around 1950, who failed to pay their share of the pension funding as required by the contract.
Lorriane January 15, 2014 at 08:50 AM
Well the taxpayers pay government workers and they should then negotiate with us. Let the people vote on their wages and increases. As it is now someone else agrees on what we have to pay and we have no say. And one big part of the pension problem is this. State unions were promised unsustainable taxpayer funded pensions. The contributions the worker pay in are paid out in some cases 18 months to 5 years. Taxpayers have to pay for the remaining years at rates we had zero say in approving. We can't afford it and it's unrealistic
Walter Bruun January 23, 2014 at 08:20 AM
@ Lorraine - our representatives who we elected negotiated the contracts and pensions, so how can you say "we" have had no say in the matter? Public workers pay taxes too, or didn't you know that, and they're usually paid at a far less rate than private secctor employees w/similar education, for instance when I worked at Lucent an engineer w/a masters degree and 5 yrs experience easily earned over $100K/yr, while a teacher w/the same educations but 3 times the experience earns about $30K/yr less - and has to contribute over 20% of that into their retirement plan - and they will not be able to collect Social Security after they're 65.
Walter Bruun January 23, 2014 at 08:25 AM
@ Lorraine - actually, "we" can afford to pay them, if only we'd adopt a progressive income tax like just about every other state, so rich fat-cats like Rauner will finally start paying their fair share. The unions didn't cause the problem, "our" elected officials did, many of them who were "paid to play" by businessmen like Rauner.
Lorriane January 24, 2014 at 09:30 AM
Walter you are mistaken. Go to the district 87 website and see all the teachers making over six figures not including ten or twenty thousand a year bonuses for coaching sports or running a club plus they pay nothing for health care. They only pay 9 percent of their salary towards pension unlike a regular worker that pays 6 percent into social security and up to 15 percent in a 401k. Get your facts straight. And we don't want a progressive tax. How about no state takes like Florida and seven other states. Wouldn't you rather be like those states. When you worked at Lucent did you get your summers off? Did you have to work much harder to get your degree than did a teacher. Do you know that of high school students that go on to be teachers on 2 of 10 are even in the top 1/3 of their graduating class? An student will have a hard time even becoming an engineer in the bottom 2/3 of their high school class
Max Smart January 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM
Lorraine, there you go with those pesky, little facts again. Liberals are averse to truth and logic.
Dan Bailey January 24, 2014 at 04:46 PM
Mr Smart I find that the truth tends to move a person towards a liberal perspective. Unfortunately, there is not enough truth and therefore not enough liberals at election time. Lorraine, do those teachers salaries belong to teachers with a lot of seniority? I know young people who can't afford to work for beginning teacher salaries. My point is that even in the private sector workers tend to get paid more with more experience and talent. As for taxes, a progressive tax would be more fair as those with more would pay more. We would get enough to pay the state's bills. Conservatives used to say that there was no such thing as a free lunch. Now they seem to think that if you cut taxes the gov't will still be able to function well. At some point we need to reexamine this. By the way, my daughter lives in Florida. Their system isn't perfect.
Max Smart January 24, 2014 at 05:44 PM
"...those with more would pay more." My point exactly! THIS is the liberal mindset. Why stop there? Why not something REALLY progressive like say an asset tax? Yeah, that's it!
Dan Bailey January 24, 2014 at 05:49 PM
Did you ever watch the TV show Get Smart?
Lorriane January 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM
How is a progressive tax more fair to those that have to pay more for a system and receieve less services than to those that pay nothing and receive more benefits. That seems unfair.
Max Smart January 25, 2014 at 10:43 PM
Unfair? Not to liberals. It is there reason for being. Take, take, take. OPM...The most addictive stuff known to man.
Lorriane January 26, 2014 at 09:40 AM
How about in Illinois pension income is untaxed. how is that fair?

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