Quick Hit Monday September 1st, 2014, 5:34pm

OP-ED: What FDR Actually Said And What Bruce Rauner Doesn't Get This Labor Day

The following is by Izabela Miltko, deputy press secretary of the Quinn for Illinois campaign.

Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner has never met a union he's ever liked, and his own words make that amply clear. He's called them "tumors." He called them "immoral." He even threatened to shut down the government to get his way.

Now, it's not bad enough that Rauner demonizes and consistently attacks unions that represent working men and women, but he really thought he was getting a dig in on that last characterization. That's because Rauner was ascribing his hatred for labor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Rauner was being quoted by the State Journal-Register when he claimed that FDR was speaking about public-sector unions and said that, "government unions are wrong...they shouldn't exist, they're immoral."

Rauner's hero up in Wisconsin, Scott Walker, has similarly tried to appropriate the words of President Roosevelt and create the impression that these words and sentiments are true.

They're not. In fact, they’re not even close. And the fact that Rauner is trying to get away with this lie-at the same time advocating against workers, unions and the minimum wage-is an insult to us all.

FDR was speaking not of the rights of government workers to organize to protect themselves, or even to bargain collectively. The words Rauner has so badly mangled were a reference to FDR’s opposition to government labor unions striking, and the union to which FDR referred had forsworn this anyway.

The entire basis of Rauner’s characterization of FDR’s words was wrong and ignores the debate swirling then-and the way it evolved, anyway.

The irony is what FDR would REALLY consider immoral: Rauner’s words and stance on raising the minimum wage. Rauner proposed cutting the minimum wage several months ago.

Rauner talks about the wage as making Illinois less competitive and has backed this up with his own record of exploiting low-wage labor markets without significant unions (but plenty of child labor).

So here are the words of FDR on the minimum wage that, on this Labor Day, we should be called to remember when thinking about Bruce Rauner’s philosophy:

“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country...By living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level — I mean the wages of a decent living.” (1933, Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act)

And then:

“Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you – using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.” (1938, Fireside Chat.)

I think what FDR said and what he meant about morality is pretty clear. And Bruce Rauner doesn’t get it.


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