By: Ashmar Mandou
Caregivers descended onto the Thompson Center plaza with a few choice words for Governor Bruce Rauner on Valentine’s Day, “Have a heart.” Caregivers asked Rauner to step up to provide vital services to those in need. On Tuesday morning workers came together to hand-deliver valentines to Rauner with one primary message, “Have a heart, governor. Protect vital public services and the providers and residents who depend on those services.” The action was convened by the Alliance for Community Services, a broad coalition of Illinois residents and their caregivers, community groups and public service unions, united to put the “human” back in human services, stop privatization and threats to Medicaid and other public services, and promote accountable.
Susan Aarup — an Alliance member and co-chair of ADAPT — is one of the thousands of Illinois residents who rely on public services to allow her to work, pay taxes, go to school, live independently and play an active role in her community. She spoke at Tuesday’s rally from her wheelchair. “My personal assistants cook for me, clean, do laundry, dress me, get me in and out of bed, bathe me, transfer me from shower to chair — basically anything physical,” she said. “My caregivers make it possible for me to be independent — to go to school, to work and to be a valuable member of society. I want to make a difference in people’s lives, and I can’t do that without a personal assistant. But Rauner’s crazy, heartless overtime rules could literally get my caregivers fired — and destroy my ability to live a productive life in my neighborhood.”
Rauner’s proposed new overtime rules for personal assistants, the caregivers who provide daily assistance to people like Susan, have particularly outraged people with disabilities and others who rely on them. Rauner also drew fire for his privatization agenda, his push to close public service offices, his strategy of engendering “assembly-line” bureaucracies and his attacks on caregivers and other low-wage frontline workers — all policies that Alliance members charge increasingly threaten services at a time when Illinois residents from low-income families to the elderly need them most. After the action, many Alliance members — including people with disabilities — headed to Union Station to catch a train to Springfield, where they rallied Wednesday at Rauner’s State of the State address to carry their Valentine’s Day message forward — and demand that the governor end his heartless attacks on public services and the people who rely on them. They’re calling on Rauner to:
- Drop his harmful overtime policy that threatens people with disabilities and penalizes workers for putting in the hours that their patients need.
- Negotiate, don’t dictate — keep public services offices open and serving human needs by returning to the bargaining table.
- Support a FAIR budget where big banks and billionaires pay their fair share, and fully and fairly funds vital human needs that include health care, paratransit/public transit, affordable housing, $15/hr for service workers and properly accessible public aid offices.
Photo Credit: Christine Geovanis