AURORA — To Aurora resident John Laesch, every honk that came his way Friday afternoon was a small victory.
Standing outside Chase Bank on Farnsworth Avenue, the union carpenter and more than a dozen other members of the Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice activist group gathered in protest of the current state of the economy.
The members meet every month when the unemployment numbers are released to help raise awareness and to advocate for policies that create sustainable living wage jobs.
“We’ve gotten a lot of support,” said Laesch, a former Democratic candidate for the 14th Congressional District. “It lets us know we’re not alone.”
And he isn’t.
Laesch, a member of Local 195, has been out of work since May.
Numbers released Friday show that more than 9 percent of the population is in a similar boat.
“We’re asking Congress and the president to come together to create jobs,” he said.
Justice with Jobs members are in support of legislation that would tax financial institutions on their transactions. The money collected would be pooled to create jobs.
“The private sector is not creating jobs at a rate that will ever address the enormity of the jobs debt, and the only solution is a serious federal jobs program,” Jobs with Justice said in a release.
House Resolution 870, the 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act, would do just that, said Elgin resident and coalition member Mary Shesgreen.
As a family therapist, Shesgreen said she has seen the economy’s effect on the working class firsthand. She can cite dozens of friends and families who have been deeply impacted by unemployment.
“It’s not fair. It’s not right,” she said.
Looking for support
As the group waved their signs along Farnsworth Avenue, passing semi-trucks blared their horns in support of the effort.
“Having such a big response from passersby lets me know I’m not alone,” Shesgreen said. “Hopefully, I can let some of them know that they’re not alone either.”
According to the Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice website, nijwj.org, the coalition brings together diverse individuals and organizations around northwestern Illinois who are concerned about employee rights and the creation of jobs.
“We include community groups, labor unions, faith-based groups, peace and justice organizations, educators, environmentalists, etc.,” the site says.
Shesgreen hopes each one of those groups will be represented when the coalition meets Saturday in Montgomery. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office will send two representatives, who will discuss Madigan’s policies on home foreclosures.
“We’re going to challenge them a bit,” Shesgreen said. “We are the anti-war movement. We support unions and fight for civil liberties.”
The meeting begins at 2 p.m. at the UAW Local 145 Union Hall in Montgomery.