Charleston legislator targeted by vandalism; union connection suspected
Rep. Reggie Phillips (R-Charleston) is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the capture of vandals who raided one of his senior-assisted living construction worksites and damaged valuable equipment.
Authorities are still investigating the incident, which Phillips told the East Central Reporter took place in late April after union members had targeted the site for multiple protest demonstrations.
“Besides busting up all the equipment they could find, whoever did this made a point of spray painting things like “‘Trump’ with a ‘not’ circle over it and ‘Rauner’ with an ‘X’ over it,” Phillips said, adding that words like “union strong” and “rat” were also sprayed across the grounds.
According to Phillips the trouble started sometime after he broke ground on one of several senior assisted-living sites he owns and operates near his Charleston-based legislative offices.
Phillips acknowledges that his use of non-union workers for the initial phase of the privately funded job didn’t sit well with union workers in the area, but he insists that they had not been completely shut out of the project.
“They were being allowed to bid on the job, and the process was still going on,” Phillips said. “We’re just a small, non-union shop that tries to keep my guys busy. We have no intention of bidding on the big contracts like hotels and hospitals, but irregardless of that, this kind of harassment needs to stop for all business owners.”
The attack on Phillips has prompted many of his colleagues to rush to his defense.
Since the news of the attack became public, Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) has promoted House Bill 2052, which would expand the parameters under which aggravated stalking charges can be filed.
“Representative Phillips is a centrist politician as his voting record shows," Ives wrote in a statement. "He voted to extend unemployment insurance to steel workers in Southern Illinois. He voted to mandate bereavement leave for employees because as he said he would have given such leave to his employees. There are very few legislators like Reggie who built a business from the start, managed it into a multi-million-dollar enterprise, and who employs hundreds of Illinoisans. You would think the Democrats on the Labor and Commerce Committee and in the Illinois House in general would really listen to him. Reggie Phillips is the last person who deserved such treatment from unions in Illinois.”
Ives said the incident sends the clear-cut message that non-union workers are not wanted in Illinois.
“It is the same message the union-backed legislators in Springfield send to business every day,” she said.