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Quinn again dogged by AFSCME

Friday, Sep 21, 2012

* AFSCME sent out this alert early today…

A day after new data revealed the Illinois unemployment rate rose to 9.1% in August, public employees and retirees opposed to Governor Pat Quinn’s threat to lay off nearly 4,000 child protection workers, disability caregivers, correctional officers and other public servants will demonstrate outside two public events where the governor is scheduled to appear.

CHICAGO: 7:45 a.m. today (Friday, Sept. 21) at Wildfire, 159 N Erie St.
JOLIET: 10:00 a.m. near Joliet Union Station, Jefferson and Scott Sts.

Union members will form a “Pat Quinn Truth Squad” to picket and leaflet against the governor’s thousands of threatened job cuts, his false and exaggerated claims about public employee pensions, and his efforts to weaken workers’ right to collective bargaining.

Gov. Quinn’s scheduled Chicago appearance comes at a breakfast hosted by the Institute of Medicine of Chicago. He is slated to be in Joliet for the groundbreaking of a planned high-speed rail station.

In recent weeks similar “Pat Quinn Truth Squads” have dogged the governor’s events at a farm near Mount Vernon, confronted him after a bill-signing ceremony near the Quad Cities and booed him off the stage at the State Fair. Two weeks ago a mobile billboard truck shadowed Quinn at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, and last week a Truth Squad picketed a scheduled appearance in Springfield where the governor failed to appear.

* The union’s Facebook page has some photos of the protests…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anders Lindall, AFSCME - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 11:55 am:

    The woman in the third photo is a retired librarian. Her pension is just $33,000 a year and she is ineligible for Social Security. Her sign and her expression tell you exactly what she thinks of Quinn’s phony claims of “extravagant pensions.”

  2. - Cassiopeia - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 12:01 pm:

    At least Governor Walker was upfront and honest about his anti-labor feelings. Quinn is a near complete phony about his union beliefs. He has totally betrayed workers.

    I hope someone takes him out in the March 2014 democratic primary.

  3. - Shore - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 12:14 pm:

    The unions continue to overplay their hands. I don’t think they realize how greedy they’re coming off to the public right now. Quinn is not scott walker or even john kasich by any stretch and they need to realize that if they continue to play this way they may eek out a win in the next battle but they’ll get killed in the war. $33k to be retired from a government job stacking books is a lot better than some people are doing employed right now.

  4. - Anyone Remember? - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 12:31 pm:

    Shore -

    Librarians do more than just stack books.

  5. - Earnest - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 12:31 pm:

    I agree with Shore. “Just $33,000 a year” is tone-deaf. Most of the people I know would be thrilled to be making $33,000 a year (though I know that amount doesn’t go nearly as far in other parts of the state) and would be thrilled to either have insurance or to not have to pay so much for it. When people see a statement like that and look at services they need being cut because the state doesn’t have enough money to go around, it makes them less inclined to be supportive of state employees, even the rank and file. I don’t begrudge this person her pension but I don’t see AFSCME getting out the message that will get her and others the public support they deserve.

  6. - Reality Check - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 1:01 pm:

    I am not sure where Shore and Earnest are living when they claim public employees and retirees don’t have public support in their battle to protect the services they provide and the modest pay and pensions they deserve. See last year’s poll by the We Are One Illinois pension coalition (, last month’s poll from the IEA ( and Rich’s own poll ( about the CTU strike. You may live in an anti-worker echo chamber but in Illinois people support public services and the men and women who provide them.

  7. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 1:09 pm:

    As an AFSCME member, I do agree the union is not doing a good marketing job. They should be educating the public about the poor conditions in the prisons and being clearer about how pensions are paid. I would like to see a full page ad in the newspaper (or on this site) stating how pensions are actually funded. Much of the public does not know that state employees pay for their pension. When I am accosted about my pension, I explain that I have paid 4% of my salary, plus social security, for 23 years, and that I wasn’t given a choice and that if EVERYONE, even burger flippers, had to put close to 12% of their salary into retirement, they might have a pension, too. People sometimes still disagree with the state employees receiving a pension, but they at least understand WHY I expect to receive mine.

  8. - Crime Fighter - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 1:11 pm:

    == how greedy they’re coming off to the public right now. ==

    I think the opposite true. People are starting to see through the bogus “benevolent oligarch” arguments made by Fahner, Whitely, Quinn, and their other minions.

    I pay more tax on a patch for my bicycle tire than combined yacht servicing taxes paid by the anti-worker crowd. The more times the millionaires keep repeating the “greedy janitor” claim, the more ludicrous it sounds.

  9. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 1:32 pm:

    A $33,000 pension today would only be worth $26,000 in inflation adjusted value when a 65 year old librarian is 85 with the proposed COLA changes. That’s a significant cut right around the most expensive years of one’s life.

  10. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 2:09 pm:

    @Anders -

    Hey buddy, sorry I missed it: I know others have called workers’ retirements “extravagant,” but can you provide us a link to when Quinn actually said it? If he did, I agree he was off the mark.



    As for the general position of AFSCME, I don’t think anyone really doubts my general support for unions. Not only was my dad a union leader, but my grandfather worked for state government and was an AFSCME member.

    That said, I agree with Rich that the union finds itself in a tough position to defend. On one hand, they want to block Quinn’s plan to close prisons to fund DCFS while at the same time opposing cuts at DCFS.

    As for the bigger picture, they oppose laying off 4,000 state employees, but they have also opposed changes to the pension system that would relieve the fiscal pressures that are forcing cuts in the state’s operating budget across the board.

    I suppose what irks me the most, however, is that in their fight to prevent prison closures in particular (as well as the Jacksonville center), AFSCME has aligned itself very tightly with Republicans who refused to put a single vote on even a TEMPORARY tax increase, let alone the kind of permanent tax reforms needed to address our structural budget deficit.

    I know there are no “permanent friends” in politics, only allies. But its not like the tax vote was a decade ago. It was less than two years ago, and its being used by the very same Republicans you are aligning yourselves with to try to unseat Democrats who voted to raise taxes when the only other alternative was to cut state programs by $8 billion.

  11. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 2:10 pm:

    Pensions are one thing, but prisons are pork-barrel spending. AFSCME should know the difference. And if they don’t, everyone else should.

  12. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 2:25 pm:

    –Most of the people I know would be thrilled to be making $33,000 a year–

    C’mon man, that ain’t Easy Street by a long shot. And it’s a pension — she worked all her life and made contributions from her wages for it.

    We’ve been going through tough times since the Masters of the Universe ran the world economy into the ditch. There’s no use crying about it, we’ve all taken the hit and will continue to do so to clean up the mess.

    But for God’s sake, can we stop pretending that the schmuck who goes to work every day is somehow a parasite and worthy of scorn? Jesus H Christ, they’re the people.

  13. - OneMan - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 2:28 pm:

    == but prisons are pork-barrel spending. ==

    Don’t agree with that…. We may have too many people in prison, but I would not consider them pork-barrel spending.

  14. - geronimo - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 2:36 pm:

    How do people happy to earn $33K/year own a computer to type on? In the suburbs you’d qualify for food stamps. If you have kids you’d be considered low income, eligible for free school lunches and if in college on the FAFSA your child would qualify for government subsidized loans. So what’s up with thinking 33K is luxury? Given the average cost of housing, you’d be living on the streets for 33K anywhere near Chicago. Government workers never made the same kind of money to be able to sock it away for retirement and the percentage they paid to their retirement fund WAS their savings that they expected and were constitutionally guaranteed to be there. Workers have time to adjust and compensate for an increase in their deductions toward their pension. Retirees do not.

  15. - Team Sleep - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 2:58 pm:

    I think Quinn is telling the truth. Whether it’s her version of the truth is a different story.

    Mr. Lindall, I appreciate the post. I don’t think that is an extravagant pension. I also don’t think it’s “mean” or “unconstitutional” to pay a small premium for healthcare. The last time I checked, most retirees do not have either a free primary or secondary payer plan.

  16. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:01 pm:

    === We may have too many people in prison, but I would not consider them pork-barrel spending ===

    You apparently haven’t been reading all of the comments by union members, mayors and legislators about how prison closures will impact local economies and jobs.

    Anyone who thinks opposition to prison closures is about public safety is delusional.

    Roughly 1/4 of state inmates are nonviolent drug offenders.

    And last time I checked, roughly half of the inmate “recidivism” rate was not for inmates who committed new crimes, but who committed technical violations of their parole.

    Kentucky is saving tens of millions by no longer incarcerating people for nonviolent drug offenses. And California is saving hundreds of millions by no longer sending former inmates back to prison for technical parole violations?

    Do the downstate Republicans and Democrats opposing prison closings support these changes? Does AFSCME support these changes?

    If so, they aren’t holding any press conferences.

  17. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:02 pm:

    Word-slinger: What you said!!!!!

  18. - cassandra - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:15 pm:

    Which 4000 employees are projected to be laid off, and for what reason. Unless you call involuntary transfer to other positions in the agency a layoff (I don’t) I don’t think any of the corrections employees will be laid off, the plan is to offer equivalent jobs in other facilities.

    I’m not certain about the numbers resulting from he planned closing of large residential institutions for those with special needs, but that train has left. We aren’t going to build any more mammoth insitutions staffed by public workers for those with special needs. Across the country, those places are closing. Illinois is, if anything, behind the trend.

    DCFS is apparently eliminating some middle manager jobs and other back office and support positions which are very likely redundant. The days of large back offices full of support personnel is so over in this technological age, for both the public and private sector. Most of the projected (remember, they haven’t happened yet and the deadline has already been extended) DCFS layoffs seem to result from the accelerated privatization of the agency’s family protective services program. According to some, including one Cap Fax commenter, there was already a plan to substantially privatize this program, over a longer time frame. So these jobs were probably being transferred to the private sector anyway. Of course, attrition is a less painful way of going about these changes, but our political leaders say they have no money. We’ll see. But even if the monies are restored, it seems likely that the privatization will proceed at some point. Whether you agree or not, privatization of government services won’t disappear or reverse.

    Government has been accused of being behind the times, but public employee unions seem to be a tad behind the times themselves. Maybe they should direct their organizing energies towards the nonprofits and private agencies which are contracting for these services. That’s hard work of course.

  19. - Anyone Remember? - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:33 pm:

    cassandra -

    ==The days of large back offices full of support personnel is so over in this technological age, for both the public and private sector.==

    Obviously, you’ve never met Auditor General Bill Holland and his definition of and focus upon “segregation of duties / segregation of functions” … .

  20. - Earnest - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:34 pm:

    -C’mon man, that ain’t Easy Street by a long shot. And it’s a pension — she worked all her life and made contributions from her wages for it.-

    I agree, and didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I stand by my point, though: don’t use the phrase “only $33,000/year” to win support when many people out there make less than that while working and are seeing their services and supports cut. There are too many messages out there that drive people to pull others down to the lowest common denominator than to lift each other up. AFSCME has a loud enough voice to make those arguments amidst all the monied interests arguing otherwise and I’d like to see them doing it effectively.

  21. - Earnest - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 3:40 pm:

    cassandra, AFSCME did a big push to organize community agencies in the 90s, and was successful with a number. However, while they may have supported their members in negotiating contracts with those agencies, they put their statewide resources into the contracts/funding for their state employees, often at the expense (at least to my perspective) of funding for those community agencies, one of the reasons direct care workers in the community, even those in agencies organized by AFSCME, make such low wages relative to their state counterparts.

  22. - Truthteller - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 4:39 pm:

    Who arrested the inmates? Who were the judges and who were the juries? Who did the sentencing? Who passed the sentencing laws?

    Not the folks who worked in the prisons which are badly overcrowded. Why blame them for the 48,000+ inmates we have?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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