(T)here’s one very big thing a governor can do on his own, without legislative approval. Pat Quinn won’t do it, but Bruce Rauner might. And it could make all the difference for the state of Illinois’ future.
When the current AFSCME collective-bargaining agreement expires in 2015, the governor will represent Illinois in the bargaining over a new contract. What if he tells the union — and all our citizens…
When the current collective-bargaining agreement expires, I’m going to ask our employees to take a reduction in wages. They won’t like it, but we have no alternative. And I’m going to continue to hold wages down until we get control of our runaway budgets.
“This will save on annual operating costs. It will also help deal with the pension debt. Pensions are based on career-end wages. If wage levels are reduced, so are pension obligations.
“Some employees will retire or find work elsewhere. Maybe we won’t replace them. If we do, we’ll replace them with “new employees” who come under the new, less-costly pension plan put in place a few years ago by House Speaker Mike Madigan. Or we’ll outsource to some company or firm that will do the work at market rates.
“The unions probably won’t agree, but that will be my bargaining position. If we can’t reach an agreement, then we’ll be at impasse. Some may strike. I hope not, but I’ll do what I think is necessary to save Illinois.
* The Illinois Policy Institute has been pushing for a major state worker wage cut in recent days, so this isn’t likely a coincidence. And Rauner pledged to do what Martin dreamed as far back as March of last year…
“I may have to take a strike and shut down the government for a few weeks [in order to] redo everybody’s contract.”
Martin omits any mention in his column of the essential services state employees provide, ignores years of budget cuts that have left Illinois with the nation’s smallest state work force per capita, falsely claims that state employees are paid more than private-sector workers and urges the next governor to violate Illinois labor law by refusing to bargain with our union. […]
Although a recent study by the University of Illinois found that salaries paid to state employees are 13.5 percent lower than comparable private-sector workers, Martin says cutting state employee pay “would make all the difference for the state of Illinois’ future.”
In fact, wages for the entire state work force amount to less than $1 of every $20 the state spends. Reducing that even by several percentage points wouldn’t dent our fiscal woes. And cutting the pay of middle-class workers will hurt the Illinois economy, not help it. The same U of I study found that public employment contributes $105 billion to the state’s GDP, and is responsible for sustaining 1.1 million jobs statewide, including 300,000 in the private sector.
* Meanwhile, in a somewhat related story, Chicago’s Blaine Elementary School Principal Troy A. LaRaviere recently penned a righteous letter to the editor about how he and other principals are being mistreated…
Since 2011, CPS principals and teachers have experienced unprecedented political burdens. Early on, teachers felt publicly maligned and disrespected by the mayor, leading to the historic strike of 2012.
While publicly praising principals in speeches and with awards, behind the scenes this administration has disregarded principals’ knowledge and experience. They have ignored and even suppressed principals’ voices in order to push City Hall’s political agenda for Chicago’s schools.
The administration’s interaction with principals is often insulting. During the debate over the longer school day, some principals questioned its merits. CPS officials were then dispatched to tell the principals their opinions didn’t matter. “You are Board employees,” a central office official told a room full of principals at a meeting, “and when you speak, your comments must be in line with the Board’s agenda.” He instructed us to have an “elevator speech” supporting the longer day ready at a moment’s notice. We were told that if Emanuel and the press walked into our schools, we’d better be prepared to list the benefits of his longer day. In a move that further humiliated principals, they were called on at random to give their elevator speeches at subsequent principal meetings.
Shortly afterward, CPS slashed school budgets, voted to close 50 schools and made disingenuous statements about the slashed budget giving more “autonomy” to principals. They insinuated these cuts would have little effect on classrooms. I spoke up to give Chicagoans a factual assessment of the effects of these cuts. A reporter from WBEZ Radio recorded a statement I delivered at City Hall in July 2013 and posted it on the station’s website. It became one of the station’s most downloaded audio files.
* The piece sparked a whole lot of interest. So much so that Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett felt the need to respond…
In a telephone call Monday, Byrd-Bennett said she was surprised to read the op-ed by Troy LaRaviere, principal at Blaine Elementary School in Lake View, whom she called “clearly one of our most distinguished.” […]
“He does a wonderful job. But he is feeling as if somehow there is this repressive environment coming from me and or my office, that he feels if he says anything there’ll be a retribution, I need to understand that and know where it’s coming from.”
Byrd-Bennett continued: “It’s a little saddening to believe that people think there’s a fear of retaliation. I know I have never set that fear. I have never called a principal in and said, ‘Off with your head.’ ”
- Posted by Rich Miller
- CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 11:27 am:
Gotta believe no one believes Shakey Mitt Rauner will cut anyone’s wages. Look he just tabbed a gaming/utility lobo to run the campaign and A car wash guy to run the Cook County GOPie machine.
Those worker unions, especially AFSCME and IEA are most GOPies.
–He instructed us to have an “elevator speech” supporting the longer day ready at a moment’s notice. We were told that if Emanuel and the press walked into our schools, we’d better be prepared to list the benefits of his longer day. In a move that further humiliated principals, they were called on at random to give their elevator speeches at subsequent principal meetings.==
Not surprising. Emanuel’s all about spin, all the time.
- From the 'Dale to HP - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 11:38 am:
Watch this CPS stuff, the flood gates might have opened, and if so, Chicago and City Hall might be in for a long end of the school year.
- Grandson of Man - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 11:39 am:
“Or we’ll outsource to some company or firm that will do the work at market rates.”
Right, like in Indiana, where welfare work was outsourced to IBM, who performed poorly and had its billion dollar contract terminated.
Well Martin did you miss the part where your boss was trying to pivot to i don’t hate unions?? If you wanted to energize the Public Sector Unions behind the Governor you couldn’t have wrote a better piece. Should have spent some time talking about how PQ has mistreated them and simply stated that Mr. Rauner would negotiate a tough but fair contract and hold up the States end of the deal. Pretty hard to say BR is a better choice for you when you say he’s going to slash their pay.
Nobody wins in a government shutdown and that is exactly what would happen if the Governor engages in regressive bargaining. As we have noted with two federal shutdowns in the past 20 years, the public gets very angry when denied their basic government services. I don’t think this is a smart strategy if that is indeed Rauner’s plan.
–Rauner from the get-go has wanted one thing: terminate the contracts, force a strike, and then force a cut. And then he’ll bust the unions.–
I’m starting to think there’s not any “thing” he wants to do as governor.
I think he just wants the gig for ego reasons. And he’ll say whatever it takes to get it.
With all his money, he can’t command the attention a governor can. Reporters don’t hang on his every word; he’s not invited on Sunday Washington talk shows; bodyguards don’t clear a path for him at every event.
There’s a lot of stroke in being a governor that money can’t buy.
Rauner should know better than to focus on “fixing” the budget by cutting or limiting something which is not a primary driver of state spending.
The problem is this is a subset of national and ideological movements against all unions. That’s where a lot Rauner’s funding and support is driven. It cannot be limited only to “union leaders” or government employees, no matter how Rauner tries to reframe it.
And this national ideology is irrelevant to the substantial problems with the Illinois state budget.
The trade-off for State workers has been lower wages in exchange for more job security and a guaranteed pension. The pension guarantee was cast over board and now Martin and Rauner would like to see the job security go next? And in exchange for even lower wages?
If Rauner knows money… He does… Now that he is the candidate do you really think he will go through this for an exercise in futility… ? If he said this… Today…Then it’s something… But it gives people something to focus on other than the other messes… And if he comes out to say , Not true… He won’t be believed by the folks against him anyway… At least PQ get’s a day off…
This will get out the Union vote that might have stayed home. However, I do not know if it will be enough. State workers have been demonized so much that this might actually help Rauner with all of the people who hate state workers. I do believe that he will push for a strike and try to crush the Union. They were close to a strike a few years ago with Quinn. Rauner might make a strike a reality while he fires all of the state workers.
State pay grades do need to be looked at. At one time private sector salaries were well above those on the public sector but the latter were sweetened with generous perks. Now public sector salaries often greatly exceed private sector salaries and the perks remain. This is especially true at the federal level.
This speaks to the fact that nobody new is listening to Rauner, thus the rehetoric must be ramped up. The mouthpiece of the least-informed, Eden Martin, will have a hard time in the long, hot summer of politics one-upping these statements with the hopes of attracting new voters who want to hear ideas, not shutdowns.
Let’s see what happens when you cut wages for state employees and do a tap dance of joy about it? Hmmm. Disgruntled state employees. Do we really want disgruntled prison guards? Do we really want disgruntled DCFS workers? You are planning to cut judges salaries, too, aren’t you? They always accept such things with grace and dignity.
If you want to encourage employee sabotage of whatever department they’re working in, go right ahead and cut their wages as a political statement.
“State workers have been demonized so much that this might actually help Rauner with all of the people who hate state workers.”
I have to wonder, what percentage of the electorate consists of “people who hate state workers” for various reasons? I haven’t personally met any, but then, I live in Springfield and don’t get out much. Do these people really exist outside of blogs and newspaper website comment boards?
Secret Square–Yes these people do exist, but in my opinion they don’t make up that big of a percentage. Many are working people in private sector who have seen their wages frozen or reduced, and their benefits cut. Or people who have lost jobs and had to take what ever they could find to get by. They are out there.
No. No. Public sector salaries are not much much higher than private sector. I know this because I have worked in both. I have taken pay cuts to go work in the public sector because i believe it is a privilege to serve. (Yeah, I’m that girl.) And when I moved from the public to the private sector, it was for a raise of about 35 percent to do the same job, only with less stress and fewer hours.
Eden Martin, it’s easy for you to flap your gums, because you and your family do not depend on quality services from the State. But personally, I want to make sure that the people who are in charge of State dollars and who provide services to the people of Illinois are paid reasonably.
If these folks are such believers in market economics, why do they think that lower wages will not have an impact on the quality of people who are employed?
You get what you pay for. There are unionized state employees who are better paid than their private sector equivalents (especially when you consider benefits), and there can be savings there. However, these tend to be at the lower end of the pay scale. You get into the professional and technical levels, and hiring newbies or outsourcing is going to cost the state a lot more than people realize. Of course, if the outsourcing is just “pinstripe patronage” to avoid Rutan and civil service limitations on giving money to your supporters, the fact that it will cost more to get the same job done doesn’t really matter.
Everything with Rauner is over-the-top. Why use a scalpel when a cleaver is available. Some State position salaries need to be examined especially where employees have a say in their paid overtime. However most State pay is appropriate. If Rauner would take a more nuanced approach he might be taken more seriously. But that’s no fun.
“If you want to encourage employee sabotage of whatever department they’re working in, go right ahead and cut their wages as a political statement.”
Yes, that is the way to get people on your side–threaten to intentionally ruin stuff. Like the mooks on Second City Cop who say the citizens get what they deserve for not standing firm in support of some mook cop who kills someone while driving drunk.
If you don’t like your job, quit. Don’t threaten to break stuff.
State works pay is out of wack compared to the business world, but maybe not how everyone thinks. An administrative assistant or entry level office worker will usually make more working for the state than a business. However, a high level executive at the state will make less than a high level executive at a business. There is some give and take that needs to be recognized. I don’t see any millionaires giving up their positions or businesses to go work for the State.
Are there some possibilities to save money on state workers pay? Absolutely yes there is, especially some of the political hacks and mid-level positions. However, why not work through attrition and lower the positions pay when it becomes open? This will be less contentious and might actually get implemented.
The pension for a state worker (SERS, Tier 1, Regular formula, covered by SS) is 1.67% for each year of service x their final average compensation, which is the 48 highest consecutive months of service within the last 120 months of service. It seems that no savings for reduced pension costs could be realized for more than 10 years. The only immediate savings would be from reduced wages, which as noted by others, would be miniscule and have no effect on the state budget. If any attempt is made to change the retirement formulas to immediately reduce earned pensions, wouldn’t that run afoul of the state constitution’s provision of the benefits of state pensions shall not be reduced?
So is Rauner ratcheting down the anti-public union talk after the primary or not. Or is Martin a rogue supporter who didn’t get the memo. His statements sure are catnip for the public unions. Perhaps the campaign issue is, how will Rauner save himself from his friends.
Note to Aldyth: talking about “employee sabotage” may not be that smart either.
Ah, another really rich guy who thinks middle-class workers make too much. That’s a novel idea, isn’t it? These guys watch “Downton Abbey” and probably wonder why the world still can’t work the way it did back then for the aristocracy. Here’s an idea for Martin and Rauner: How about they support a salary cap of, say, $45,000 per year for any employee serving at the discretion of the governor, people like department heads and executive office staff? Given that these appointees generally make far more than that, wouldn’t that save more money than nickel-and-diming the average state worker?
Always wondered if we shouldn’t pass a statute requiring all State Employee compensation (pay and benefits) to be within 10% of the State average for Job title or National average for those without private sector corollaries.
While some are paid over the average a lot of professionals are paid under the average. Seems a 10% window would allow the State to equitably compete for the best and brightest out of the Universities.
If you are a low wage worker in Illinois, you are probably overworked, overtaxed, and underpaid. You have a right to complain, but why point your guns in the wrong direction? The unionized workers may be a little better off, but they pay more in taxes, and they pay union dues as well. Teachers have all of that and college loans to repay.
The people who are getting a pass on paying their fair share under a flat tax system are the very wealthy, like Bruce Rauner. They like nothing better than to see division and jealously break out among the folks who are actually feeling the most pain. The super rich will eagerly throw fuel on that fire!
No matter what, very few public employees will sabotage their agencies, schools, etc. What will happen is a continuation of what is already happening - a mass of depressed, highly worried, devastated group of people becoming more and more distracted, anxious and demoralized on the job.
- Just Trying to Survive - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 2:04 pm:
Oh yeah, great idea to cut the wages of a good sized number of residents who work for the public and then out of the other side of your mouth talk about stimulating the economy. Does he think that people will buy more with less income? Are these employees not contributors to our state economy? In anticipation of my retirement being cut by SB1, our household has cut our spending and eliminated many long held services, to the dismay of those earning a living from our dollars. What goes around comes around.
Arizona Bob, The state has been raising the cost of health benefits and pensions for the last several years. Most state employees have seen no actual raise in several years. They give you a couple of percent and they charge you more for insurance and pension. Same thing with retirees. I got my 3 percent compounded in Jan. and lost 2 percent this July for health insurance that was supposed to be at no cost for life. It is pretty hard to budget a retirement when this happens.
- Just Trying to Survive - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 2:26 pm:
During the decades of my employment, I saw my pension contribution from my paycheck increase. Nothing changed in terms of my benefits however. So these sweeteners people talk about? Who’s getting those? I have no idea what is in the figment of some peoples’ imaginations. Average pension is 31K in Illinois. Are most people living large on 31K? Is that a dream income? So much misinformation out there, it’s pathetic and sad. But somebody has to be the scapegoat for all the corruption and mismanagement of our elected officials, so why not public employees? Leave the really guilty parties alone, right?
Let’s get this straight(and factual). Illinois private workers are the 7th highest paid in the US, but the STATE workers rank only 9th, but state workers should make LESS????? The governor and general assembly rank # 1 and 2 in pay in state rankings, how about them taking a pay cut and get them back into the normal realm of Illinois wages.
Maybe Eden Martin will be Governor Raunervich’s choice as chief negotiator on the next contract. That’ll be very entertaining.
- Grandson of Man - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 3:18 pm:
Bill White, thanks for the great link on government worker data.
Soccermom, please kindly reconsider disparaging Mr. Martin. He used to be R. Eden Martin, plutocrat, but now he’s Eden Martin, the regular guy who had the grime of labor under his fingernails and who will have a beer with you. Both he and Rauner are regular guys, with the Carhartt jacket and $18 watch.
I am pleasantly surprised at the comments in this thread, with no comments saying state workers are takers, and no comments accusing state workers of having it so good when everyone else is struggling. The IPI folks, drive-bys and Raunerbots must be elsewhere today.
I guess on the plus side, if Rauner were to do this he would be a guaranteed one-termer. The best employees would leave and he’d be left with a force of incompetents who can’t find a job elsewhere. Combine that with angry employees actively sabotaging their agencies, and he will create a public VERY unhappy with his performance as governor.
The unions are weak and are siding with management more and more. They do not represent all union employees the same. Local 2600 is doing it themselves and won’t need any help from Rauner. Some locals are running off full membership by their actions or lack of action. It is only a matter of time.
- Just Trying to Survive - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 7:08 pm:
RE: Bill White’s link to the email by a teacher in North Carolina. Once again, a twisting of facts and meaning of the email. The writer didn’t say she hated teaching or kids. She, in fact, said she loved her students and teaching. What she said was that although everyone drones on and on about how important Education is, no one wants to pay for it. It’s one of the first cuts in most state budgets and dangled over the heads of those in Education as something they should be grateful for if they don’t cut it. Which is it? Important or not? THAT is what she’s trying to say! The response is littered with incorrect statements as well. Teachers aren’t paid for vacation!? You can take your salary over 10 months while school is in session or divide that same salary amount into smaller payments and receive those payments over 12 months. Ridiculous to think teachers are paid for summer break. Another hysterical fallacy intended solely to inflame. But morons love to dig up junk and pass it off as fact. Funny how when your kids are in school, you expect the best and brightest, the most energetic and devoted teacher for your kid. Once you’ve gotten yours, you hate every single penny spent on Education and resent having to pay for other peoples’ kids. Unbelievably selfish. Let those inmates, welfare recipients and homeless take teacher jobs since teaching is no big deal.
We’re eventually going to find that out for sure (again?) with the current SB0001 lawsuits.
- Privatization - Wednesday, May 14, 14 @ 12:00 am:
Rauner a Democrat who switched to the Republican party. Four years in the future, Gov Rauner has a idea how to save the state and Chicago. We could Privatize certain areas and save Billions. No more pension payments and health insurance cost. The pension system’s already have enough money to fund the already earned pensions. AFSCME would fight a little, but would still receive the forced dues from the privatized workers. The house and senate members would have four years left to serve and could care less. After Rauner is elected his second term, He would privatize every possible job in the state. Rahm would then see this as a way to save Chicago from the pension debt. The moral of the story! The Democrats could blame everything on Bush, I mean Rauner the Republican. The state would save BILLIONS on pension payments. The state would not have to pay health insurance on the privatized workers. The Privatized workers would be paid by the private contractor and the state would not negotiate with the Union! Think it can’t happen, look at the majority of the other states! The Voters already hate the over paid lazy state workers. Rauner might get to serve as long as he wanted