July 24, 2008

SEIU Local 73 Statement

Good Evening ,

My name is Dale Jackson; I am the Park District Division Director of the Service Employees International Union Local 73. As you know, SEIU Local 73 represents the over 2,200 employees that provide the programs and also landscape our beautiful Parks.

I stand today to address a concern we share with organizations in the Rogers Park community. There are discussions currently going on about allowing the Boys and Girls Club to lease out Gale Park and its brand new field house to run its programs.

SEIU Local 73 disagrees with this Boys and Girls club proposal or any other effort to have outside agencies begin to take over the running of programs in the Parks. Personnel hired by these agencies will be doing the very same jobs that Park District employees are currently performing or are capable of doing.

We are also appalled to hear that after the community requested, demanded, fought for and even desperately asked for the District to build a Park in the North of Howard community, you are now contemplating a proposal that would lease the new $6 million Park Field House (that was built with taxpayer money) to a private, not-for-profit organization like the Boys and Girls Club.

Please don’t get me wrong. The Union is not attacking the Boys and Girls Club. We recognize the good work they do with and for youth. Indeed, they actually do a fine job living up to the mission they have set for themselves.

However, we just don’t support the idea of handing Gale Park over to them.

1. Because SEIU members have been working for more than 60 years to provide vital recreation services to this City. We are more than capable and willing to continue to work with communities to provide the programs they are looking for.

2) Most importantly, the community has repeatedly demanded that the Park remain a PUBLIC Park with regular full-time Park District staff. This request has somehow fallen on deaf ears.

3) There is an advantage to having open and public Parks, although the District seems to think differently. Leasing to an outside agency would actually limit community members’ access to programs and to the Park itself.

Lastly, is the District now going into the business of building $2 million soccer fields to give to the rich; $6 million dollar Parks to give to the Boys and Girls Clubs – and what next? The community doesn’t like the idea and SEIU doesn’t either! In fact, this is a very slippery slope to what can be described as the Capitalist ideas about eating off the public trough.

We are here today to urge you to reverse this decision, reject this proposal and any like proposal in the future. We see this issue a violation of the community trust and a severe departure from the mission of the Chicago Park District, which is to take the lead in providing recreational service to all of Chicago’s communities. This proposal makes it looks as if you are trying to get out of the business.

Please take this message back to President Chico and Superintendent Mitchell: the Union and the Community are in unity.

1 comment:

Hugh said...

THANK YOU, MR. JACKSON!