During a Labor Day event at Chicago's Millennium Park on Monday, Democrats Pat Quinn and Alexi Giannoulias called for renewed investment in the county so that more people could achieve the American Dream.
"We believe in investing in people, working people who live from paycheck to paycheck," said Gov. Quinn to the thousands of union members gathered.
Part celebration and part call-to-action, the rally was sponsored by the Chicago Federation of Labor, the city's largest labor organization with about 300 affiliated unions.
Both Quinn and Giannoulias tried to deliver a message that would help improve the state's 10 percent-plus unemployment rate.
State Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Giannoulias called for renewed investment in the state's education system, its infrastructure and in innovation and technologies of the future.
He went after his opponent, Mark Kirk, accusing him of helping to ship jobs overseas to China by voting against a jobs bill that would save 6,000 teachers. He also said that Kirk voted 13 times against extending unemployment benefits and 11 times against increasing the minimum wage.
"What we need is someone who is going to create jobs right here in Illinois," said Giannoulias.
The governor said he will announce new job initiatives later this week that could put some of the state's unemployed back to work.
While Quinn claimed that Illinois has added more jobs than any other state in the Midwest, Kirk said thousands of jobs have been lost because of the Democratic-sponsored stimulus plan.
But while there are some union members who believe in the Democratic-centric message delivered, there were others who questioned the success of the ideas.
"They're saying all the right things, but what we need are actions, not words," Joe Palkis, a member of the Teamsters Local 705.