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Janus decision hurts black women. Gov. Bruce Rauner doesn’t get it

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (right), accompanied by plaintiff Mark Janus, speaks outside the Supreme Court on June 27 after the court rules that states can't force government workers to pay union fees, a setback for organized labor. | Andrew Harnik/AP

The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME likely will create another major obstacle for African-American female government workers, hurting some of our most vulnerable employees.

African-American women already have two major disadvantages as they apply for jobs: being black and female. State jobs and union protections have often given black women entrance into the middle class.

It’s easy enough for Mark Janus, a white man, to believe he doesn’t need a union. Others who aren’t as privileged, including black women, recognize the need for strong unions to fight on their behalf and to prevent employers from taking advantage of them.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that black women are the largest demographic within public unions. This is because unions help narrow the wage gap. According to the BLS, black women who aren’t represented by a union earn 67 cents for every dollar a white man earns, but black women represented by a union earn 72 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Unions are desperately needed to continue this progress.

So, while the governor and his business buddies are high-fiving the decision, the black community that Rauner claims to care so much about stand to be the most hurt by his single-minded obsession with taking down unions.

We, as state leaders, must continue to fight for the rights of all workers, including our black women.

State Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford, Maywood

Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman

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It’s firefighter, not ‘fireman’

Your Page 2 poem commemorating the Sun-Times’ independence (Thursday) missed the mark when referring to the occupation “fireman,” not firefighter. It is important to use gender-neutral job titles so that both men and women serving in this capacity are recognized.

Georgeann Georges, Lisle

Protesting Pence

Excellent article by S.E. Cupp, especially her point that “too few are concerned” (“Trump sets his sights on dismantling #MeToo movement” — Tuesday). Friday, she can show her concern by covering and attending the protests to Vice President Mike Pence’s presentation at The Westin O’Hare hotel in Rosemont, starting at 10:30 a.m.

Tina Stevenson, Evanston