Led by SEIU, labor and progressive groups match biz spending in ward races


The biggest progressive spenders by far are the Service Employees International Union’s Illinois State Council and the affiliated SEIU Healthcare. Combined, they have made direct campaign donations to candidates in 30 wards — enough to give them friends in more than half of the city’s 50 wards, if all win.

SEIU has spent at least $40,000 in each of nine wards. The leaders are the campaigns of Desmon Yancy, who’s running for an open seat in the south lakefront 5th Ward and has received $81,000 so far; Ronnie Mosley, running for a vacant seat in the South Side’s 21st Ward, with $55,000; and embattled Ald. Daniel LaSpata in the Bucktown-Wicker Park 1st Ward, with $55,000.

“With remap and so many incumbents retiring, this is an opportunity to elect the most progressive council ever,” said Anthony Driver, executive director of the SEIU Illinois State Council. “We see an opportunity to elect people who share our values.”

Among items SEIU hopes the new council will pass are expanded collective bargaining rights and a “living wage” that’s markedly higher than the city’s current minimum wage, which is $15.40 an hour for most workers, Driver said.

Also spending heavily is the Chicago Teachers Union. It’s donated about $270,000 so far, generally to candidates SEIU likes, such as La Spata, and South Loop incumbent Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th. They received $25,000 and $35,000, respectively.

But the CTU’s spending on ward races has been dwarfed by the $850,000 it has spent to promote mayoral hopeful Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner.

United Working Families has donated about $40,000 and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees $35,000, according to campaign records.

In some wards, the progressives and the business groups are directly butting heads, such as in the North Side’s 50th, the West Side’s 25th and Southwest Side’s 12th. But both sides are backing West Side incumbent Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th, and Jeylu Gutierrez, who’s running to succeed retiring Southwest Side Ald. Ed Burke, 14th.

Not included in the above totals are donations from somewhat more conservative unions, including the building trades, or the considerably more conservative Fraternal Order of Police.

The reported contributions came between Oct. 1, 2022, and Feb. 16.

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February 17, 2023 at 05:27PM

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