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Quinn tries again to strip workers of their union cards

Monday, Jun 20, 2011

* As I told subscribers last Thursday afternoon, the governor has managed to revive a bill to strip thousands of state workers of their union cards

Nearly 2,000 state employees could be ejected from unions representing them and another 1,700 would be prevented from joining collective bargaining units under a bill that could be called in the Illinois Senate next week.

Tensions between Gov. Pat Quinn and his traditional labor allies have flared up over the legislation. The administration said it needs fewer employees in unions so it can effectively manage state government, but union officials say the bill is an attack on unions.

Senate Bill 1556, which passed the House 62-52 in the wee hours of the legislative session on May 31, will need a supermajority of 36 votes to clear the Senate and head to Quinn’s desk. Legislation considered by a chamber after May 31 needs the support of three-fifths of lawmakers in order to become law immediately.

The Senate is returning on Wednesday to consider a construction spending bill. A spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the union measure will be discussed by Senate Democrats next week.

* AFSCME is not amused

The Quinn Administration is alleging that these employees are not committed to their jobs, simply because they belong to a union. This is an insult to every union member in the state of Illinois who gets up every day, goes to work, and gives their very best to the jobs that they do.

Without a shred of evidence, Quinn’s lobbyists are spreading the lie that employees in certain higher level titles cannot be counted on to perform their jobs with diligence and integrity now that they are part of the union. […]

If SB 1556 passes, thousands of state employees could be stripped of union representation. Call your senator today to urge him or her to oppose this assault on basic collective bargaining rights.

Hundreds of thousands of public employees to our north in Wisconsin have had their bargaining rights stripped from them by their Governor. Let’s not let Governor Quinn and his legislative allies get away with it here in Illinois.

The bill has little support among Senate Democrats, however.

…Adding… I forgot to mention that the legislation will now require a three-fifths majority to pass. Unless something drastically changes in the Senate Democratic caucus, that ain’t gonna happen. So, Quinn will get his vote and the unions will likely win.

* The media pretty much ignored the House’s passage of the bill in late May, but as subscribers already know, the Illinois AFL-CIO released a statement shortly after the session ended which was not at all complimentary of the governor...

Governor Quinn has recently taken a more active leadership role in the National Democratic Governors’ Association, particularly in fundraising efforts. He has, as recently as April 2011, chided Republican Governors for stripping public employees’ collective bargaining rights around the country. Behind the scenes, national labor leaders, including National AFL-CIO President Trumka, called Governor Quinn to request further negotiations on this issue. Quinn continued to pursue SB 1556 despite the calls. It remains unclear whether Governor Quinn will be an effective fundraiser for the Democratic Governors’ Association following his pursuit of this anti-worker legislation

Richard Trumka doesn’t make calls to governors on bills he doesn’t care about. That statement was definitely a shot across Quinn’s bow, but he has ignored it. The DGA may pay the price.

* Meanwhile, there are other items on the agenda for this Wednesday’s session

Senators are expected to approve pay cuts for lawmakers that include forgoing a yearly cost-of-living increase and requiring them to take 12 unpaid days off in the next 12 months. It’s a continuation of a cost-cutting move they put in place last year and would result in a nearly 5 percent pay reduction for lawmakers. Starting salary for legislators is $67,000. The furlough days alone will save taxpayers about $565,000. […]

The Senate also is expected to act on a handful of recent Quinn appointments, including naming former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico to head the Illinois State Board of Education.

Otherwise, lawmakers will consider a number of minor issues, including language to clean up drafting errors in a bill that allows the state to borrow millions of dollars in order to capture an increased payment match from the federal government. In all, it’s expected lawmakers will be in town for just 24 hours.

“I don’t expect any fireworks,” said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago.

There actually may be some fireworks. Democrats expect that Jay Rowell’s nomination to run the Illinois Department of Employment Security will be loudly opposed by the Senate Republicans. Rowell ran the Senate Democrats’ campaigns last year.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


27 Comments
  1. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 9:59 am:

    Pat Quinn, the new Scott Walker?


  2. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:03 am:

    - Pat Quinn, the new Scott Walker? -

    You wish Cinci. Even as much as I support unions, including public employee unions, there are some positions that aren’t exactly appropriate for the union.


  3. - Excessively Rabid - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:14 am:

    Didn’t many of these folks run to the union as the only potential source of protection from being scapegoated and shafted by the legislature and administration?


  4. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:15 am:

    As an AFSCME steward in DHS, I see that discipline has proceeded without many glitches since lower-level managers became unionized. This was even the case when there was no supervisor outside of the bargaining unit in my office. We had an administrator who was on temporary assignment, but discipline proceeded. The problem was that a supervisor outside of the bargaining unit, the Regional Office Administrator, had to come to hearings and issue decisions, which is a lot of work.

    I imagine that, at least in DHS, since most offices have supervisors (Local Office Administrators) outside of the bargaining unit who are more than able to discipline workers, the argument that lower-level supervisors must not be unionized due to inability to discipline is not valid.


  5. - Robert - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:16 am:

    Why revive it now if it needs 3/5 of the vote–why not wait until next year? Needlessly tick off union allies for something that you might not be able to get passed.

    I often find myself thinking Gov. Quinn has the right idea to tough problems, but has horrible timing and planning.


  6. - Both Sides Now - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:21 am:

    Being part of the Union wouldn’t be an issue at all if the employees at the managerial level were being paid more than those they manage.


  7. - grand old partisan - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:24 am:

    “Even as much as I support unions, including public employee unions, there are some positions that aren’t exactly appropriate for the union.”

    That’s a VERY interesting statement, STL. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly agree with it. But my question to you – a self proclaimed liberal – is who gets to decide this - the workers or the government (ie, the employer)??


  8. - SgtSchultz - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:26 am:

    Completely agree with Quinn on this one. This is not anti-union so much as it is drawing a line in the sand between management and staff. But considering how many years management went without an pay increase, you can’t blame them for wanting union representation.


  9. - PaGo - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:34 am:

    I agree w/Sgt. Had previous administrations treated management, ALL management, better, the desire to jump to the union may have not been as massive. No raises, furlough days, etc. I used to manage 9-10 employees. Each employee made at least 20 percent more in salary than I did. Most made over 50 percent more. It was disheartening for sure, especially having to take on additional duties while the union employees had their “set” duties. No more, no less.


  10. - Independant Thinker - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:39 am:

    Non-Union workers in many cases have not had raises for many years. In addition they mandated 24 furlough days last fiscal year and there has been rumors for the next fiscal year are even higher.
    When a mid level manager goes into the union the salary is adjusted so that they do not make less than the people they supervise. That is often a 15% to 30% pay raise before the furlough days.
    Is it any wonder why these mid-level manager that are not policy makers want to join and/or remain in the union?
    I agree that not all jobs are appropriate for union membership but that also supposes that the non-union workers are treated fairly.
    Quinn inherited the stagnation in raises for non-union workers from Blagojevich but his cavalier use of furlough days has made the situation worse.
    Since the non-union portion of the workforce is small the amount of money saved is also insignificant. There is also no accounting of the productivity lost due to the higher level managers being out of the office more often.
    Planning and expecially understanding expected outcomes does not seem to be this Gov’s strength.


  11. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:52 am:

    I disagree with Quinn on this. I do agree that Legislative Liasons and SPSA’s should not go in and feel the Union got greedy.

    Supervisors were put in because they 1)are not allowed to dicipline without getting Labor Relations involved. 2) Cannot administer annual evaluations without first getting approval from the higher ups. In many cases they are told how to mark evaluations. 3) Have little or no control of thier budget.

    With the exception of signing off on time slip (which get signed by a higher up later) where is the true “Supervisory role”?


  12. - AC - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 11:11 am:

    All the mention of upper management is a bit of a smokescreen. This bill could strip ALL PSAs of their union rights, even if they aren’t managers. If you read the bill, the provisions that prevent titles brought in before 12/2008 and require a labor board review, don’t necessarily apply to PSAs. Many PSAs have that title because they have specialized skills in IT, accounting, nursing or other fields. Lumping them in with middle and upper management seems inappropriate. Worse, removing all PSAs from the union, without restriction, but potentially leaving higher level managers in seems tremendously unfair.


  13. - JustaJoe - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 11:16 am:

    Agree with Excessively Rabid, but there is more. Some Rutan-exempt political hacks have been absorbed into the union(s)….where is the logic in that? Rutan-exempt people (political appointees serving at the pleasure of the governor) have no business getting the raises and protections that come from union coverage. But this bill also removes those protections from Rutan-covered managers and supervisory staff (career professionals) and fosters the evolution of all such positions into political appointments (because no qualified professional will want them). Also, (read the bill), it provides “the Governor is authorized to designate up to 3,580
    State employment positions collectively within State agencies directly responsible to the Governor,” that are Rutan-exempt political appointees into agency management or as “liaisons”. Please. This is a patronage bill under the guise of something else. The bill should also have little support among senate Republicans.


  14. - Sad - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 11:26 am:

    AFSCME is just plain wrong on this one, but Quinn shares the blame for the problem.

    There are not enough non-union employees to operate the State. Union employees have no reason to support management (and do not). We need nonunion managers and supervisors to assure the workers are actually working at reasonable and productive rates!

    Under Illinois defnition of a supervisor, the labor board has not been finding employees are supervisors. Under Il law assinging and revieiwing work are not superivsory, and you have to spend more then 50% of your time supervising to qualify.

    Under federal law, if you have authority to disicpline (even if you do not use the authorighty because your employees are good) you are a supervisor. IL law uses such a high standard now that there is no one who meets the definition (and thus thousands of supervisors are now in the union)

    The cause of this though lies in large part with the policies of the Govenor. Lets look at how Quinn has treated his non-union workers…. Non-union staff have had their pay frozen, and then reduced 10% or more with furlough days. Their union counter parts get 4.5% annual step raises plus COLA’s ranging from 2-6% a year. Union employees who volunteer for furlogh days get paid time off as an incetive. Nonunion employees are mandated furlough time and recieve no incentive days.

    The Quinn administrations policy of punishing merit comp employee’s have driven workers into the union. Merit Comp positions used to be the preferred job over union positions as they had the potential to earn more pay based on performance - compared to the flat regardless of performance increase union employees recieved.

    Prior to 2003 merit comp employees recieved minimially what their union counterparts did, and were eligible for greater increases if they performed well. Since 2003 Merit comp employees have been beaten by policy into joining unions.

    perhaps if Quinn treatd his merit comp employees equitably the storm of managers and supervisors fleeing to unions would not have occured. it has, and its needs fixxed. The State of IL is now run by AFSCME, with most of the high senior level managers under a petition to enter the union in the coming months.


  15. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 11:32 am:

    Any bill that blanket covers a given title (PSA, SPSA) is, in my opinion, stupid.

    Based on my many years as a SPSA, a good chunk of the so-called management class has no more authority than signing off on attendance sheets and, sometimes, expenditures up to $50 or $100 … but you damn well better have paperwork proof for the expenditure. Quite a few SPSA’s were in more or less the same situation. When CMS blanket created the SPSA title, a lot of technical and licensed people were swept into the “management” tier. We no more managed people than the brick out in the sidewalk. We might have advised on policy, but we didn’t have the authority to set policy. Bottom line: a title does not a manager make.

    While I agree true managers should not be in the union, you are going to have to do a position by position audit to identify those people.


  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 11:32 am:

    Legislative liaisons being in the unions doesn’t make a whole lot of sense — liaison for whom?

    As far as the unions taking out on the Dems — where are they going to go?


  17. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 11:52 am:

    Let’s make all state workers “managers.”


  18. - Beowulf - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 12:36 pm:

    I believe the stark reality of the state’s ominous financial situation has started to finally hit home with Pat Quinn. Pat is now beginning to think that “maybe Scott Walker isn’t so crazy after all?” Desperate situations often times require desperate measures.

    Before it is all over with, Pat Quinn may decide to run as a Tea Party Republican come the next gubernatorial election. Pat is in the process of becoming “a true believer”.


  19. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 12:42 pm:

    Beowulf, would you care to share those drugs with the rest of the class? Just sayin…


  20. - Pat Robertson - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 1:19 pm:

    ==There are not enough non-union employees to operate the State.==

    What makes anyone think that, if this bill passes, Quinn will be able to fill the non-union managerial positions he claims are necessary to run the state? They can’t fill merit comp openings now. The increased workload (with no increase in pay) for remaining merit comp that results from having to cover unfilled positions is another reason they are trying to get into the union. And not all of the employees whose jobs are thrown out of the union will stay in those jobs — many have the seniority to take other union jobs, and will try to do so if their current job is slated to be kicked out. In that regard, passing this bill this week would be stupid because it gives them a whole year to find a new, unionized job.


  21. - Shemp - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 1:22 pm:

    I think the GA, Rod and Quinn before his apparent revelation, were all too happy to give the non-union workers the shaft in order to drive those people into the union. Now at least some pols are figuring out that it’s entirely unaffordable to keep up with union contracts these days. Kick 25% of the workforce out of AFSCME, just quit giving the supervisors the short stick when it comes to finances and work rules.


  22. - Irish - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 1:41 pm:

    As one of the union workers who would be affected by this bill I will say this:

    As some have said we sought union membership because mid management positions do not stand a chance in the recent democratic administrations. People above us benefitted from their “connections” and got “salary adjustments” when no raises were allowed. Any cut that could be made was made to our positions. We had a raise in our pension payments, that others still hav e not had to pay. We were denied raises, and had to take furlough days that no one else took. So we sought protection.

    The reason we could be in the union hinged on the fact that we were not, and still are not policy making positions. In the micromanagement world that is state government, especially when CMS is involved, we have absolutely no say so in hiring, firing, or discipline, even with our seasonal workers. We have to get the okey dokey from above for any purchase other than the ridiculously routine. Any expenditure requires jumping through numerous hoops set up by CMS.

    So unless old soy boy wants to relinquish the stranglehold on decisions he might face a tough fight in the courts as to whether we are policy makers or not.


  23. - Word World - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 2:30 pm:

    Quinn’s arguments are management based but he hasn’t replaced the members of the labor relations board that has approved all of these people going into the union since 2008 (the date stated in the bill). BFC has also lied repeatedly on the bill. The first time it was called in Committee and the floor back in January she stated that this would not effect anyone at DOC … no one called her out on it. Now Quinn is using Wardens and assistant Wardens as his reason. At least everyone needs to get on the same page. Labor will really see who there friends are. Not to mention this bill seems to be the only thing quinn has cared about from the whole session (budget, workers comp, gambling all seem to be taking the back seat).


  24. - Independant Thinker - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 3:15 pm:

    The question is will the new jobs be filled by qualified candidates or by political friends and favors for the next election cycle? The state can’t afford to continue to hire people based on who they know. The current “double exempt” jobs are often not being filled by the most qualified candidate. Job searches outside of resumes that have been submitted to the Governor or his staff are pretty infrequent.


  25. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 4:12 pm:

    Independent Thinker, it will be hacks. They’ve driven all the competent people out with the BS. At their request, I went back on contract to do a bit of work and train someone. I accomplished the work in under 1/2 the hours on the contract. When it came time to train someone, they couldn’t make up their mind who. I finally told them to figure it out and call me to come back when they had … I left a lot of money on the table because I wasn’t going to just go in and sit doing nothing every day. Even with repeated requests from me, they never did get someone trained. Based on what I’ve seen, the current political crop is a worst bunch of idiots yet.


  26. - Emily Booth - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 7:54 pm:

    I have been with the state for many years and the current administration is the worst ever. From the top down, bad, bad, bad decisions. Is it because of the budget, Blagoyevich, the current political climate, general apathy? I’ve been thru worse economic times (the early 80s) and we were always well run. Not now.


  27. - state employee - Monday, Jun 20, 11 @ 10:21 pm:

    The Public Service Administrators and other management-level titles voted to be in AFSCME after more than 7 years of receiving 0 raises (including no cost of living adjustments), and having huge increases in work, stress, and job demands.


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