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Question of the day

Friday, May 30, 2008

* The setup

Workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees say contract proposals by the governor’s office would hurt them and the public they serve.

Thousands of union members joined Unity Pickets at about 36 offices, nursing homes and prisons around the state on Thursday, from far-south Anna to Waukegan, where protesters circled and chanted in front of the Ann M. Kiley Developmental Center, 1201 Dugdale Circle.

Marvin McBride, president of AFSCME local 785, which represents 351 employees at Kiley, said the one-half percent pay raise offered by the state would amount to a pay cut when factoring in a proposed 50 percent increase in health insurance deductibles, co-payments and pension contributions. […]

Overtime is also an issue in negotiations. Cuts in staffing have caused a shortage of technicians who work directly with Kiley’s 222 mentally disabled residents.

* The question: If the union’s contract expires without an agreement, should the workers strike? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 7:23 am:

    Yes, they should. You need to have that arrow in the quiver in case you need it.

    Also I think that various forces would want to prevent that and would be willing to give AFSCME more to prevent it.

  2. - NoNameNick - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 7:34 am:

    As A State employee who works in a HUMAN SERVICES field I have very strong and incongruent feelings about the matter. On the one hand yes we need to be able to express to management sstringly that the work we do is necessary and irreplaceable by untrained, unproffessional warm bodies. The right to strike is a powerful weapon and we need to have it at our disposal. That being said just having a weapon at your disposal also requires one uses it responsibly. To walk away from the people we serve in our field and to leave them to their own limited devices would border on inhumane. I would not want to leave my caseload to be managed by my administrater who doesn’t care to bits about them, rose to his position as a result of the most recent early out that devastated our agency in regards to experienced/dedicated staff, and got his position due to seniority and not due to competence.

  3. - Excessively rabid - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 7:38 am:

    Do they have a legal right to strike? Some public workers don’t. Remember the case of the old air traffic controllers’ union, PATCO. They went on strike and Reagan fired them all. Few ever got their jobs back or any other relief. In any case, it’s hard to know who to side with on this. I’m not an AFSCME fan, but they’ve not been treated fairly in recent years. They have been treated better than their non-union supervisors, though.

  4. - Fed Up State Employee - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:03 am:

    Having been a union steward in other unions and involved in a few strikes, our feeling that “no one wins in a strike” usually applied. I have to agree with “nonamenick” that a strike is a powerful weapon but should be used responsibly. Just the knowledge of the possibility of it’s use can be a tool.

    In most cases, only the company and it’s employees are affected. In this case, add to that list the public whose services will be disrupted.

    Strikes should be used as a final alternative if negotiations have completely failed and there is no hope for resolution. And even then there is no guarantee of an agreement.

  5. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:13 am:

    As a 30 year union state employee, I have worked with and without a contract over the years. I have always felt that we have a duty to the taxpayer to continue to work, but given the current “LABOR FRIENDLY” administration and their unwilliingness to bargain in good faith I do believe that AFSCME needs to let the gov know that YES we will strike to get a fair contract. AFSCME has always discouraged the idea of a strike and in doing so, has empowered the gov to believe that we will continue to work regardless of contract or contract status. For all intents and purposes without the “testicular virility” to strike, AFSCME is like a toothless dog guarding the hen house. We have to fight to just maintain our current standard of living, while the legislature just sits back and gets a 12% raise on top of the swell raise they got last year. What is most galling about this whole mess is not only does the legislature get a big raise, but their pension plan remains fully funded and has never been raided the way the rank and file state employees’ has been.

  6. - Ghost - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:15 am:

    No its a bad idea. People are depedent on them for their basic needs.

    Further, there are thousands of state workers who received no raises over several years because of the States financial situation.

    Times are tough all over. The Union workers need to step up and stop demanding money for themselves when we cant even cover health care bills for those in need. Union salary bumps like these and pension benefits like these have vanished from the private sector where the cost either drove the companies into bankruptcy; or they had to ax this kind of exhorbitant expense. Many people are losing jobs and heir homes. State workers can go a year without a raise and be thankful they are employed with incredible health and pension benefits.

    If they do Strike the Stae should hire replacement workers who I am sure would love to have the jobs and lock out the Union

  7. - wizard - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:29 am:

    Has Ghost received in raises? It is not his ox getting gored. It’s not only a lack of raises, it is an increase in all our co-pays. During the last 4 yr contract, I have effectively gone backwards, not even covering the increase in my property taxes, and I’m union not merit comp. My boss suffered more. The GA gets approx. 11% and wants to give us nothing?!! Maybe there is other ways to cut. Lets strike.

  8. - Cyril - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:32 am:

    As you make your bed, so you will sleep,

  9. - Just Because - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:37 am:

    Yes they should. This administration only knows one thing. (Force). Yes a lot of good people who depend on front line workers could suffer. However one unit that would strike is Payroll. This would effect the Governors office along with the legislature. Could send a real message. The union is a little greedy. There are plenty if unqualified union workers as well being protected for a job not done well. The other side of the coin is the none union workers who haven’t received raises in 5 plus years. They would suffer from this as well. This could break the union in Illinois government.

  10. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:39 am:

    ALL of the unions should cut off ALL contributions to Rod, Emil & Mike until they put the fiscal house in order.

    That would be a lot more effective.

  11. - Crimefighter - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:40 am:

    An ASCFME steward told me they CANNOT strike due to state law.

  12. - Princeville - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:43 am:

    Ghost-”State workers can go a year without a raise and be thankful they are employed with incredible health and pension benefits.” —- a year without a raise, one thing, a contract that cuts my wages drastic and increases my expenses, quit another. What happens when I can’t afford to get medical treatment? Gov ‘Health Care For All , Do The RIght Thing, For The Working Families’ Blagojevich wants to make a drastic reduction in your wage and benefits and if you don’t like it because your gasoline is sky high, your electric/heating bills are sky rocketing, we can’t access your health benefits cause of too high due immediately co-pays, well, we’ll just replace you. Sound okay?

    Far too early to talk of strikes. Bargaining in good faith by AFSCME and holding informational pickets is where we are now–believe it or not the great majority of peons really care about what they do, we’re not greedy leeches on society aka your tax dolars. Is Senate Rules Chairman Richey going to strike if he does not get his raise? Of course not, he’s an elected offical.

    Ghost, I think you really need to look at the situation real hard before you start calling for replacement workers. Part of the mess this state is in in their agencies now is because many many of the good ones are gone.

  13. - Fan of the Game - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:46 am:

    Should they strike? Depends on the situation, the progress of negotiations, the length of time without a contract. I don’t have enough experience with AFSCME to know whether their concerns are worthy of a strike (though I know many facilities are under-staffed).

    Should they have the ability to strike? Absolutely.

  14. - Bill - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:47 am:

    Yes, they should.It is absurd to think that the state budget should be balanced on the backs of its loyal and dedicated employees. State employees deserve a fair and equitable contract. They have borne the brunt of this state’s mismanagement for 30 years. It is time for them to take a stand. No contract, No work!

  15. - Anon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:55 am:

    Did Bill keep a straight face while he was typing that? I’m merit comp, and thanks to this administration I’m taking home less today than I was 5 years ago. Where’s mine, Bill? But I also say no strikes. Public employment is also a public trust.

  16. - Sparkle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:57 am:

    According to AFSCME’s contract, “…there shall be no strikes, work stoppages or slow downs…” so there you have it. I’m tired of the state’s fiscal problems trying to be solved on the backs of the state workers. We deserve a fair wage just like everyone else.

  17. - Siyotanka - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:04 am:

    Whoa…we are talking about frontline workers here. People who actually DO the work…and some grunt work. May I remind you all about the “pay raise” the legislature may get. For doing what? Gridlock, frustration, no compromise talking… Come on, I do not think that the rank and file “worker” should strike. I also, not not think they should have to bear the burden of increased health costs without some form of compensation. I would ask this question…if the union is being given 1/2% raise in contract talks…what percent is the 7-8,000 a month raise our legislators will be getting…Come on Emil…”I need foodstamps” get real…

  18. - Siyotanka - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:10 am:

    Ok..I just read the next article inline here at the Blog. 11.7% raise…that goes into effect “IF it not voted down”…Hum? And we are asked to accept a 1/2% raise…say that’s equity. I would accept an 11.7% only IF I were to pay for 50% of my health costs. Hold on people this may get ugly before it gets better…

  19. - KC - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:14 am:

    Tou might want to check the current contract, alot of union contracts with the state have no walkout and no strike provisions in them. However, if this contract does not have those provisions in them then see ya later. Walk out at 12:01

  20. - Pot Stirrer - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:14 am:

    Yes, the State workers are getting hosed to some extent. But, how many of us in industry get as many holidays off as state workers or only have to work a 37.5 hr. week with breaks, etc. It makes it a little hard for me to feel overly sympathetic.

  21. - Anon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:16 am:

    Yes Sparkle, but the contract that says no strikes expires on June 30th.

  22. - OneManBlog - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:16 am:

    Pot Stirrer…

    I am reminded of a quote from my grandfather.

    “Everyone else is overpaid and doesn’t have to work that hard, while you are overworked and underpaid”

  23. - wizard - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:18 am:

    Pot Stirrer-When you rack up 25k in extra miles that you are not properly reimbursed for and spend in excess of 100 nites in motels just to do your job, talk to me about 37.5 hrs/wk. Do not get me wrong, its a good gig but not the piece of cake you make it out to be.

  24. - FairShare - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:23 am:

    I just find it interesting that we’re even having this discussion. AFSCME helps this guy get elected (twice), and now he wants to cut their contract. That was obviously not money well spent.

  25. - Anon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:26 am:

    AFSCME didnt back Rod in the last election, they backed no one actually.

  26. - Crafty Girl - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:29 am:

    A strike will probably be a lose-lose situation for everyone. While it will bring attention to the important work public employees do, workloads at most Agencies are already backed up beyond belief doing to staffing shortages. A strike just compounds the problem. The backlash against employees from the public will probably be worse than the current State employee bashing.

    It also hurts the very people State Agencies serve, many of whom are not in a position to help themselves.

    Not only will the public suffer, but in this economy, so will the families of the State employees. Things are already financially tight for many of those families. Strike pay will make it even tighter.

  27. - dave - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:34 am:

    According to AFSCME’s contract, “…there shall be no strikes, work stoppages or slow downs…” so there you have it.

    Once the contract expires, the no strike provisions are no longer binding and in turn AFSCME would be allowed to strike without breaking their contract.

  28. - Sparkle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:36 am:

    Yes, Anon, the contract expires June 30, but I’ll guarantee you that phrase will never be allowed to be removed.

  29. - Wumpus - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:39 am:

    Sadly, yes. This seems like a decent reason to strike. When the legislutors are asking for the raises they are asking for, this seems reasonable to scoff at a .5% raise. The difficult part is the jobs they do deal with some of the most helpless. They would suffer.
    Why should they feel obligated to work without a contract?

  30. - FairShare - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:42 am:

    Anon- Check your facts. They didn’t ENDORSE him. They sure as heck gave him a lot of money though.

  31. - Sparkle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:45 am:

    So, Dave, if that’s the case, then it sounds like agencies can do whatever THEY please, too. It was my understanding that everything remains status quo until a new contract is ratified.

  32. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:46 am:

    It’s their call, but I’d advise them to be careful. The workers could end up wearing the jacket for what I perceive to be pretty strong citizen disdain for state government right now.

    I’ve been reading these state agency mismanagement horror stories for months now. Your union leadership should be beating the drum on the difficulties you’re having performing your jobs. You should have a PR plan running full tilt. In the mainstream media, all we hear is that you want more money. And in the public’s minds, you all get lumped into the Ronen-like pension scams, too. You need to advocate.

  33. - Princeville - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:46 am:

    Pot Stirrer, kinda hard to work holidays when the office is closed and I don’t sit state holidays, and for the Pot Stirrer’s record, hubby works his share of holidays and his share of weekends. Breaks? Last I know even the min. wagers in private sector got breaks. Wanna hear about the type of breaks at my hubby’s site? Might get one under a tree for a quick cup of coffee this summer and then there is lunch under another tree. Are you wanting to deny a short break and a carried along meal under a tree while it’s 90 degrees plus and sunny and humid. Or do you think this break is a bit too much and a waste of time that should be worked on through? You’re grasping at straws here. Tell me about your work day and I’ll judge if you should get a break, how long ect.

  34. - wizard - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:46 am:

    I was fair share until Bag-o-tricks got in. Then I went full member to try to protect myself a little. In general the union backs everyone I’m against.

  35. - Jechislo - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:49 am:

    God, am I glad I finally retired from the State. What a mess. What a mess. What a screwed up mess.

    The answer? At the next leadership election the Democrats in the Senate need to elect a Senate President OTHER than Emil Jones. Then Blago will have to face the music. He won’t have Emil around to clandestinely keep the important Senate votes from occurring. On the count of three, will everyone please shout - “RECALL!!!”. One, two,………..

  36. - Just Because - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:50 am:

    According to AFSCME’s contract, “…there shall be no strikes, work stoppages or slow downs…” so there you have it.

    Once the contract expires, the no strike provisions are no longer binding and in turn AFSCME would be allowed to strike without breaking their contract.

    the current contract stays effective while negotiations continuo. However when negotiations break down then the current contract doesn’t have to be honored

  37. - Sparkle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:51 am:

    Hey Wizard, I don’t agree w/everything the union advocates for either, but you have to have protection in this day and age and we have to be united. And you’re not even totally safe even w/the union backing you. Look at what Blago is trying to do to IDOT and the Lottery. That could happen to any of us.

  38. - Cassandra - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:52 am:

    Well, if the state’s overstuffed management ranks struck, nobody would likely notice. Under Blago, there has been an increase in politically connected management, many of whom operate with high salaries (plus the same benefits union members get)but zero accountability. So of course there is less money for direct service and less money in the personnel line to pay for direct service staff. The taxpayer trough is not bottomless and we have to let the politicians eat their fill first, not to mention “campaign contributors” and legislators awaiting their second monster raise in a year.

    No, they shouldn’t strike. Their patients/clients could get hurt. This is all posturing anyway. The union is expert at the posturing part and Blago is improving. Didn’t he give away the store in the 2004 negotiations. They’ll work something out.

    The complaints of union members about stagnating wages and more expensive benefits are emblematic of what all middle class Americans are experiencing. In the US, the income gap between the wealthy and everybody else is accelerating…just like in those third world countries we used to look down on, but which we now ressemble in so many ways.

    The solution is not to give hefty pay raises to a fortunate few union members (not to mention legislators, of course, and upper level state bureucrats). The solution is to bring relif to the entire middle class, through lower taxes, expanded access to affordable health care, expanded access to high quality education (not just expanded salaries for school administrators, which is likely where much of the latest school windfall will go), and expanded tax credits for those who save for retirement. There was a time when I thought Blago and the Dems might actually bring about this kind of reform. Alas, no longer.

  39. - wizard - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:53 am:

    Sparkle, I agree, that why I became a full member when he was elected. He has totally ruined our agency. On top of that he has really abused our management most of whom are very good.

  40. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:55 am:

    If the contract expires, all contract verbage is moot. How can we be held to contract stipulations when there is NO contract? Last contract negotiations, we worked without a contract for a number of months without striking because “it was the right thing to do”. This time I am hearing an awful lot more talk favorable to striking. We did the right thing last time and all it seems to have done is emboldened this administration to take advantage of our good nature and willingness to continue to work contract or no contract. If we were UAW or UMW or Teamsters, no one would think twice if we went on strike to force the negotiation of a fair contract.

  41. - Sparkle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:57 am:

    Yes Wizard, unfortunately our agency seems to be imploding as well. We had good management before this administration came on board, now we have managers who all live in Chicago and might bless us w/their presence once a week. Basically us old timers are keeping the agencies afloat because we know what has to be done even though we haven’t been told to do it. Really sad.

  42. - Fed Up - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:03 am:

    Why not? The legislators and Governor have been on strike for over two years now.

  43. - cover - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:05 am:

    We could use an expert on labor laws in this discussion. I understand the concept that the terms of the current contract remain in effect if AFSCME workers continue to work. But if AFSCME were to walk out, wouldn’t the state be able to impose whatever contract changes it is seeking, and also to stop contributing to the striking workers’ health insurance?

  44. - Princeville - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:22 am:

    Sweet Polly –”Last contract negotiations, we worked without a contract for a number of months without striking because “it was the right thing to do”. I’m not sure what you are talking about here. AFSCME had their tentative contract agreement before mid June in 2004.

    psst, Cassandra, at which bargaining neg. meeting did the state workers ask for ‘hefty payraises’. I believe I must have dozed off for that.

  45. - Anon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:22 am:

    State employees deserve a fair contract for their hard work. When the contract expires, AFSCME should strike. This corrupt administration will learn to appreciate public servants.

  46. - moderate Repub - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:31 am:

    Cassandra - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:52 am:

    Well, if the state’s overstuffed management ranks struck, nobody would likely notice. Under Blago, there has been an increase in politically connected management, many of whom operate with high salaries (plus the same benefits union members get)but zero accountability. So of course there is less money for direct service and less money in the personnel line to pay for direct service staff.

    While it is true that there are some bloated salries at the top, overall employment at the state is way down. Many non union positions have had extra job duties laid upon them because of unfilled employee departures (they have had to take on the job responsibilities of those who have retired) and have not been given an increase (raise) in 5 years. Merit Comp employees (non union) deserve a raise, not the union positions, who have made out like bandits with their last contracts. Representation for employees by a union seems to be the only way the Gov will give out deserved raises. Its shameful. As to the bloated top, Casanda is talking aobut literally a hand full of people. State employees (for the most part) have gotten the shaft from this Governor. Not only has he required them to do more work, he hasn’t given them a raise, yet required them to pick up pension contributions, so they have taken a pay cut.

  47. - Anonymous - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:35 am:

    There is no need, in 2008, for a union of government workers. They are the true drag on our resources and should be outlawed. What’s their beef? Poor working conditions? Poor wages? Give me a break. If the argument is job security, tell it to a judge. The unions only protect one thing, their overpaid, over-promising leadership. Ban the unions!

  48. - Dirt Guy - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:43 am:

    Cassandra -

    Try to believe this, okay? I’m not making it up.

    Union members are lucky when they get an annual COLA, plus they get very little in return for being a member. If the administrations people want to mess with you, they will.

    The average (non-Blago installed) merit comp worker has seen their “lavish” wages go backwards and then stay stagnant since Rod took office.

    The Blago installed merit comp worker gets an automatic 10-15% bump in pay, at least once a year, after starting out with a high wage $90,000+.

    Don’t even lump anyone else like the legislature or judiciary in with the non-Blago state workers. They have their hands in a different cookie jar and get to play by different rules.

    Any state employee remaining from the pre-Blago era should have their pay doubled. Those poor people get kicked around more than a soccer ball and have to do all the patronage idiots work.

    I watched it for almost two years. Then I grabbed my “excessive” retirement benefits and ran.

    To answer Rich’s question, no don’t strike. You will just lose money, give the Blago people more ammo to shoot at you with and the Union will not be harmed or change.

  49. - anon sequitor - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:49 am:

    I’m old enough to remember/observe several different administration transitions, from Dem to Repub and back again, as well as between different people of the same party, and I’m amused by the resiliency of the myths about how the new people are just hacks, while the veterans (who probably got their jobs by politics) are not. Nearly all of the state employees who came in under Thompson, Edgar and Ryan got there because they knew somebody. Except for a few technical positions, virtually no one could get a job whatsoever, whether answering phones or truck driving for IDOT, including in Princeville, without clout. The same is going on with Blago.

    Now back to the topic at hand. If the union contract says “no strikes” yet union members claim they are free to strike once the contract expires, is the opposite true too. Can management unilaterally impose cuts, layoffs, reductions, whatever, with no repercussions or restrictions currently in the contract?

    I think it is time to cool off the hotheads and put some adults in charge.

  50. - Cassandra - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:51 am:


    I’m not sure Sparkle would agree with you on the overworked manager part.

    I think we are talking about more than a handful.
    But that’s not the point. Maybe the state needs to slim down its manager ranks in order to make more resources available to the people being served…the disabled, the mentally ill, the elderly. After all, if state employees are responsible and hard-working, how many overseers do they need? I suspect the management span of control could be expanded a bit, maybe a lot, in state government, without a cut in service.

    All the sacrifices can’t be on the backs of the middle class taxpayer, something Blago actually seems to understand, although the followthrough has been less than stellar.

  51. - Inquiring Mind - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:53 am:

    I’m just curious…Sparkle and Wizard: will you tell us what state agencies you work for?

  52. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:55 am:

    Princeville - Tentative is the key word. We had no signed/voted contract. Tentative does not mean that we had a binding contract.

  53. - Princeville - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:02 am:

    Ah, Anon Sequitor, how did my family become a state employed family then? Don’t work for IDOT, nor answer phones, nor at time of employment certainly knew nobody nor had any clout. Oh, and got in prior to Thompson’s election (*and don’t assume I have lived in Princeville my whole life or even Central IL for that matter).

  54. - Anon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:04 am:

    “Can management unilaterally impose cuts, layoffs, reductions, whatever, with no repercussions or restrictions currently in the contract?” They seem to be doing a pretty good job of that even with the contract.

    Yes they could do those things if the contract expired. It wouldn’t do much to help them resolve a strike though, quite the opposite.

  55. - Princeville - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:06 am:

    Sweet Polly- it was a final ratify by like two days after June 30th. That hardly quaulifies it as working ‘months’ without a contract.

  56. - Just the Facts - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:07 am:

    I suspect the Governor wouldn’t mind goading the union into a strike. He could then attempt to increase his popularity among the electorate by railing against the “greedy” state workers. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that there are many people in the State that are as uninformed as Cassandra who would buy into such propaganda.

  57. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:13 am:

    I have watched as this administration continued to add over paid, under attending high paid management positions in my agency since 2003. The number of “PART TIME” “COMMUTER” managers, deputy to the deputy Secretaries, assistant to the assistant secretary, etc etc etc continued to grow by leaps and bounds. People like MO’ MONEY JONES’ wife - now head of DMH. She didn’t meet the standing requirements for the job, so they changed the job specs and RAISED her salary upwards of $30-$40 THOUSAND a year over her QUALIFIED predecessor. These “GIFTS” from the gov are brought in to created positions at outrageous salaries to “OVERSEE” the long time managers. These long time managers still do ALL the work and are held responsible for day to day operations while the gov’s people show up MAYBE 2 or 3 days a week to attend meetings IF they show up at all. We have 2 or 3 “GIFTS” that have offices and staff in our building and yet the “GIFTS” have never even bothered to report to our facility. Has anyone ever taken the time to compute the cost of all the travel, lodging, expense of maintaining multiple offices and staff for “Roddy Python and his travelling circus”?

  58. - Truthful James - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:42 am:

    Have they finished phonying up the carol Ronens time cards yet?

    Every time we get to a new contract, the yelling and screaming regarding the trough that Ronen and Mrs, “Mo Money” Jones and the rest feed at come to light.

    Why don’t we hear about these things when they happen? Is it just to compare and contrast the management feeding trough with the oh-so reasonable demands of the union workers?

    Seems to me that AFSCME ought to blow the whistle on this tripe when it occurs.

  59. - He makes Ryan look like a Saint - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:44 am:

    Rich, my post was removed. Did I do something wrong? If I did, I didn’t mean to.

  60. - Name Withheld - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:46 am:

    From Anonymous
    There is no need, in 2008, for a union of government workers. They are the true drag on our resources and should be outlawed. What’s their beef? Poor working conditions? Poor wages? Give me a break. If the argument is job security, tell it to a judge. The unions only protect one thing, their overpaid, over-promising leadership. Ban the unions!

    Well - undoubtedly that is also true in the private sector where CEO wages have risen over 450x the amount of the lower-paid workers, not counting perks, golden parachutes, and such.

    Unions may have their problems - but I’ll take them and the protections they afford over the capricious nature of those that ’serve at the pleasure of ‘ whomever. You can’t say unions are corrupt without saying the same thing about the alternative. And I’ve heard far less about union corruption in Illinois than I have about political corruption, poor procedures for awarding contracts, inappropriate patronage, and a host of other things uncovered by the Feds, our great auditor William Holland, and whomever else.

    From where I sit, having a union supposedly working in my favor is better than not having it. Of course, your mileage may vary.

  61. - State Pawn - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:46 am:

    As a card carrying, full fledged member of AFSCME I can tell you that unless I get locked out by management, I will never strike. I have a family to feed and I will not drain my savings to strike. AFSCME never asked my opinion about who they chose to support, they simply handed my money to our current governor and supported him during both election cycles. If we, and unfortunately, I am guilty by association, supported our governor then why in heavens name should we not support him now? I will not be a part of any potential strike as I wasn’t allowed to be included in the election year support offered to our governor AND since I was forced to support our governor (by my association with the union), I don’t feel like I have a moral right to strike.

  62. - Fair is Fair - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:47 am:

    What kind of increase in out of pocket health insurance costs will the legislature have to bear? What kind of a cut in pension? How many legislators will get a 1/2 of 1% salary increase this year? Same questions for the other constitutional officers. Fair is fair.

    Ronen gets an extra 38K just for signing papers that said she “worked” for Rod for eight weeks. How much extra will Hartke get for being a short-termer at Ag? Fair is fair.

    Despite Rod’s job grab for Chicago, most of the state workers still are in Springfield and we all know how much Rod hates evereything about that place.

    I say - stick it to the 20 and 30 year employees more and more. Goodness knows they are used to it. Fair is fair.

  63. - cardsmama - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:50 am:

    As a state worker,personally, I can’t afford to strike…but then, conversely, if I thought it would help, I would feel obligated. This governor would love to see a strike, because he cares very little about the everyday makings of this process of running the state. He hasn’t a clue what we do as responsible, MATURE employees..he probably presumes it would run just fine with his hand-picked management. he would be wrong.
    I have been with the state for 24 years and have taken on many more duties that are not in my union job classification because that is the kind of employee I am. I can’t get a promotion that would give me a couple thousand a year because CMS stops everything our agency sends there. On the other hand, one division in our agency is being cut excessively while 3 of their management are raking in nearly $300,000/year for their salaries. go figure. The programs will suffer.
    There is enough emotion and desire to strike, but should we? I’ll cross that bridge when I need to. Until then, I will continue to get the duties of my jobS done with less quality than I would prefer, but completed with the time and resources available.

  64. - contract - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:50 am:

    Once the contract expires it is true that the “no strike” clause is no longer valid. In most cases, when a contract expires, managment and the union work under the terms of the existing contract to try and reach a compromise. In a strike situation, what is in the contract doesn’t matter anymore because the employees are on the sidewalk and any new rules implmented by management don’t mean anything for empty desks. For the strike to end, a new contract has to be agreed upon by both sides and its safe to guess that AFSCME would not agree to any retribution from management. No one wins in a strike, but sometimes you’re forced to stand up and not let them roll over you. (I don’t work for AFSCME and am not a state employee) Oh, and on health care… yes they could try to cancel coverage, but COBRA rights give the employee months before they would have to make a payment.

  65. - Its the PSAs Fault - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:53 am:

    Aren’t there going to be a lot of PSAs added to some union’s membership soon? Those folks are used to getting no salary increases and reductions in benefits. Rod can’t give them a fair salary increase now.

  66. - Truthful James - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 12:01 pm:

    Everytime we get into a debate on public sector unions, etc., someone always throws in the “private sector CEO” argument. The equivalent of the private sector CEO and his cohort is your friendly neighborhood Governor, the elected offiders and the GA.

    Those are the people you ought to be comparing with your new contract.

    The governor gets 11% thanks to Tricky Ricky hendon nd his Cheshire cat no vote policy. and they are offering you 0.5% net. That is a 220% difference right there — and 10% the year before (or whatever).

    Why no complaints?

    BTW, private sector increases are in most cases tied to an increase in the value of the company to its shareholders.

    How has any public employee from the Governor on down increased the value of the State to the taxpayers? They keep increasing taxpayer burden instead.

  67. - Cassandra - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 12:06 pm:

    Wow. I didn’t know the state salary grades permitted salaries up to nearly $300,000 a year, except maybe for physicians. Maybe we need a website devoted solely to a listing of all state employees, their salaries, and other information such as how much they contributed to various campaign chests. Information is power.

    Could these be the shadow positions my state employee friends have been telling me about…you occupy an employee number in the salary system but you get paid out of a “shadow” number that permits a much higher salary, thereby avoiding the salary
    cutoffs in the official system. In some cases, you also get to keep a lifetime civil service job while being paid at a higher level reserved for at will employees, who are taking more risks. It’s probably all perfectly legal….I’m not muckraking here. This is Illinois, after all. Money abounds for those with clout.

    And no, I’m not talking about direct service jobs.

  68. - Anonymous - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 12:21 pm:

    To “Name Withheld”:

    If you look closely at my post at 10:35 a.m., you will see that I specifically singled out government workers and their need to be repped by unions. I know it’s easier to distract from the debate by bringing the issue in another direction, like CEO salaries, but state and municipal workers are hardly working in the mines as it were and are well paid, have stellar insurance and retirement programs and unions cost the state millions in waste and driftwood.

  69. - cardsmama - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 12:26 pm:

    Didn’t write that as I should have. It is a TOTAL of nearly $300,000 for the 3, not each. Sorry…need to proofread better.

  70. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 12:48 pm:

    What good is a union that doesn’t strike? It is the threat of striking that empowers a union. It is the threat of striking that feeds a union and ensures that their demands are considered and often met.

    But a strike only works if the intended target blinks. Blagojevich will need to see a personal disadvantage to a strike for a strike to be effective. There are real reasons to believe that Blagojevich won’t give into demands if a strike occurs. This also should give pause to the union.

    So definately, if Blagojevich continues to screw state employees then they should threaten to strike and shut down government. If they don’t, he won’t listen to them. But since when has Blagojevich shown a willingness to ever listen?

    What we’ve seen from this governor is an utter lack of practiced empathy. He talks the talk, but Blagojevich in action shouldn’t embolden anyone into believing that this Democrat feels solidarity with government unions. Blagojevich doesn’t feel solidarity with government in general and has run against government since announcing his candidacy in 2001. He is anti-Springfield, because he has painted Springfield as the source of Illinois’ woes. He won’t even live in the Mansion. He has excuses for staying in Chicago, but politically dissing Springfield has been his mode of political style since Day 1 - and he was elected doing that, so don’t expect a change.

    Blagojevich is a finger-pointer extraordinaire, so it is to his political advantage to have new villians to point toward when things go wrong. It is politically beneficially for him to have a union strike against him as it will show that not only is he not a “tax and spend Democrat”, but that he is also not a “blind union Democrat”, whereby enhancing his national image.

    If the union strikes, it gives him new excuses for playing the victim when it suits him. This means that Blagojevich will not run to resolve a strike if the union chooses to strike.

    Blagojevich could win politically with a union strike. A strike is far more damaging in a political year for his opponents than it is for him. He isn’t running! Considering his persona-no-grata status among the GA, Blagojevich will not shed tears seeing incumbants losing this November. Blagojevich needs new friends, and he is almost out of them currently. Voter anger showing up in the polls could only help him, not hurt.

    So the union needs to think because Blagojevich doesn’t blink. A losing strike will hurt the union, not it’s intended target.

  71. - What planet is he from again? - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:05 pm:

    There is an online query engine to look up specific employee’s salaries (although it is a year or two out of date.) Enter the name, and it’ll give you his/her annual salary. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the URL anywhere.

  72. - northwest illinois - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:12 pm:

    To the question-NO,NO,NO! And to all that voted for Gov B, this is what you get.

  73. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:16 pm:

    They should strike and the pickets should have the % offered for the unions and for lawmakers to generate public sympathy. The bottom should read “What Is He Thinking!?”

  74. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:16 pm:

    to planet: i think you’re talking about

  75. - Douglas M. - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:20 pm:

    Would a strike only affect agencies under Gov? If so, money could still come in and go out, albeit at a slower pace. Hynes’ office has IFT and Teamsters unions. Not sure about Alexi G or the other state officers.

  76. - Other 12.5 million Ill residents - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:21 pm:

    we really don’t care, quit your crying!

  77. - What planet is he from again? - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:44 pm:

    Actually, I think it was on Apparently HB4765 addresses that issue too.

  78. - steve schnorf - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:45 pm:

    James: yes, but unlike the mythical CEO of the mythical for-profit company we always here about, here in Illinois state government, the CEO, the CFO, etc, are far from the highest paid employees. Normally, many of the highest paid are members of bargaining units.

  79. - Joe Hill - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:52 pm:

    Blago’s long term strategy has been to romance SEIU and drive a wedge between the unions to weaken AFSCME. A strike tends to play into his hands, as well as to hurt AFSCME’s public image with the voters.

    However, I think AFSCME should look into filing a lawsuit to hit Blago in his campaign war chest, where he really lives.

  80. - Truthful James - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:58 pm:

    Steve –

    You have to go to the big boys to get the high ratios. A lot of the small business corporations don’t ever reach that mythical spread.

    And for the really big money you have to go the M&A Boys and those salesmen who put together the sub prime securitized mortgage protfolios and sold them world wide (just like GNMAs — not).

    I wonder how much Jim Thompson takes home relative to the legal typist shoving together the boiler plate.


  81. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 2:29 pm:

    TO: JOE HILL - you are sooo… right about the SEIU. Check out the following quote from Redleaf National Institute/The National Center for the Business of Family Child Care:
    ” SEIU had been working for many years in Illinois trying to organize providers. They worked closely with the Illinois Child Care Bureau and the state child care resource and referral system in their advocacy work. Previous efforts by the state’s child care advocates had not been successful in raising the subsidy payments for providers. SEIU also was a strong supporter of Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich, endorsed him in the 2002 Democratic primary, and became one his largest campaign donors. Governor Blagojevich signed an executive order granting providers the right to organize with the state in February 2005. Family child care providers overwhelmingly elected SEIU as their negotiating representative in April 2005. Once negotiations began in July, it took about five months of bargaining before the contract was agreed upon.” Because of the BIG campaign contributions DHS received an order from the govs office to assume the expense of creating and maintaining a payroll deduction system for the SEIU union dues even though the WORKERS are NOT state employees. Nice deal for SEIU!

  82. - Sparkle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 2:47 pm:

    To Inquiring Mind: Are you nuts!?

  83. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 2:56 pm:

    With his “changing the way we do business” political slogans, Blagojevich has been able to press upon state government a class system. I believe it is unintentional, but it is damaging nonetheless.

    To this administration there are two kinds of employees, pre-Blagojevich and Blagojevich. This isn’t unique because we’ve seen plenty of party changes. What is unique has been how this governor has kept this division. Normally, a governor puts his people in place and then adopts the entire lot, as though he has cleaned it. At some time, he will “own” and direct the public’s servants in order to build a political base. Working with the unions is a part of this normal process. A governor eventually tries to create a comradery with state employees to a certain extent in order to gain political benefits from this voting sector. In many ways, Blagojevich has gone an opposite route.

    Blagojevich took Chicago as his headquarters, not the state capitol. After Ryan, it was a political advantage during the campaign to do this. By choosing to base the governor’s office in Chicago, he needed to build the bureaucracy around him to support the governor’s office. Yes, we’ve always had a Chicago office, but Blagojevich has taken it to a new level, even beyond what Thompson did during his later terms. By building his bureaucracy, Blagojevich created another class of public servant which by proximity to his office, city location and culture was different from the public servants and offices in Springfield.

    Another “reform” and “ethics” issue forced onto pre-Blagojevich state employees is the “ethics test” and stricter time-keeping recording demands. The Inspector’s Office established by Blagojevich is not just a theoretical watchdog for waste and corruption, but also makes a negative statement regarding those not hired by this administration. These new enforcements sent messages to pre-Blagojevich state employees that they were not trusted by the new administration. Not only were new department heads created and filled with political appointments, previous appointees were summarily disposed of under news headlines generated by the Administration. As to employee vacation time, the new governor personally flew to Springfield to repeat his “fix” on the corruption he touted earlier in the day in Chicago.

    The message sent by this administration was clear. While these were expected changes, especially after 30 years of GOP rule, the sloppy political way they were handled made pre-Blagojevich state employees feel second-class.

    With each headline-seeking presser, Blagojevich bolding exposed corruption by fingering pre-Blagojevich employees. Posters went up across state offices calling attention to his watchdog agency for corruption.

    Laughingly, one episode of his public stand against unethical behavior had Blagojevich accusing the prized bull at the State Fair. My! How he worked this angle, didn’t he?

    This all could have been handled better.

    It is only natural to see him build up another union as a consequence of these decisions. Instead of AFSCME, Blagojevich aided SEIU. SEIU became the union with which he built his relationship and his political power. When AFSCME didn’t endorce Blagojevich in 2006, it was easy to see how this was a consequence of how he failed to “own” pre-Blagojevich state employees. This is very unusual, especially for a Democrat.

    As the budget soured, Blagojevich’s class system was enforced. He didn’t have the money for the salary increases, so he ensured that those he brought into his administration were paid. Pre-Blagojevich employees became further disenfranchised.

    So, if AFSCME believes Blagojevich will blink when threatened by a strike, they will find him as steeley-eyed as he is when he moves state jobs from Springfield to Marion, or close Pontiac to favor Joliet.

    This governor has felt entirely comfortable building his own bureaucratic world in Chicago over the bureaucracy he claims was, and is, at the root of all Illinois corruption. In my opinion, I don’t think he cares a twit and will not come running if a strike is called, letting AFSCME to whither to the benefit of SEIU.

    It may take some time for the next Illinois governor to fix the “reforms” brought to state government by Blagojevich. The next governor will need to reassure state employees that he/she will not balance their political budget on their backs, that they will not be strutted out in perp walks as examples of public corruption before a confirmation of guilt is established, and that they will be treated like professionals.

  84. - Sparkle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 3:16 pm:

    Bravo Vanilla Man - you are dead on!

  85. - Fed Up State Employee - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 3:20 pm:

    Cassandra and others….you seem to have forgotten the question:

    If the union’s contract expires without an agreement, should the workers strike? Explain.

    Leave Blago, his inept entourage, the legislature, managers and merit comp employees out of the equation. The question is about AFSCME members.

  86. - Sparkle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 3:22 pm:

    I say yes.

  87. - To: Its the PSAs Fault 11:53 - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 3:25 pm:

    “Aren’t there going to be a lot of PSAs added to some union’s membership soon?”

    It has already been done and is an ongoing process. AFSCME membership is increasing with the inclusion of these employees.

  88. - Cassandra - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:06 pm:

    Read my post. I said no. What I didn’t say in that post was that presumably any increases would be retroactive and it’s not like they’ll be unemployed while the talks continue (unless they want to be).

    The taxpayers, in today’s economic climate, really need somebody representing their interests at the table..not just a cabal of greedy pols and greedy union officials happy to sell out the taxpayer. If it takes longer, fine.

  89. - Princeville - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:23 pm:

    Fed Up State Employee @ 3:20. The question is not an easy one to answer. Frankly it was a broad question. Did Rich mean AFSCME should walk at 12:01 July 1st? Did he mean how long should we bargain before a thought of a strike? Your guess is as good as mine. I’m enjoying the different thoughts on the issue.

    As I stated early, AFSCME state workers are concerned with good faith bargaining which is on going and there is a month left of the current contract. At this point none of us nor non-state employees should be toying with ‘if we should strike’. It’s not a matter of waiting for one side to blink with scare tatics or threats, that would not be in good faith now would it. So let us chatter as we please unless Mr Miller slaps our fingers, he wrote the question, he I’m sure is capable of over seeing it.

    VanillaMan, you’ve put out some well thought out comments the last couple days :)

  90. - annon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:29 pm:

    Ought to lucky for the jobs they have. It’s tough times & these folks have been riding a pretty good gravy train for the last 4. They ought to look at the big salary, benefit retention & COLAS & say thanks! Better than a lot in Illinois have faired & certainly better than MC’s & PSA’s someone was griping about. They ought to get priorities straight & look with what they can do to keep their jobs not price themselves out of business.

  91. - Pot Stirrer - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:45 pm:

    Wizard- I understand your plight as I too do and have done all of what you describe plus some for years. But those not on the road all the time don’t have those same issues which is a vast majority of the state employees.

    I chose my job, as did you, and accept the consequences and the hours without overtime. There is no such thing in my business.

  92. - nieva - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:00 pm:


  93. - steve schnorf - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:36 pm:

    I’ve never heard of the “Illinois Child Care Bureau”. Can anyone tell me what it is?

  94. - Princeville - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:40 pm:

    steve– or google

  95. - Cat - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:42 pm:

    Vanilla Man’s concise explanation of what is happening with regard to state employee unions should be rewarded with a blog of his own!

  96. - Hard work or hardly working? - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:42 pm:

    There is no set of employee’s less deserving of a payraise than AFSCME working for the state. I believe they have come to think of their jobs as $60K a year they are due for simply showing up no more than 9 months a year!

    Lazy and unaccountable. I use to believe in the union movement until I got stuck with this lot in life!

  97. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:56 pm:

    An earlier poster wrote:

    “AFSCME didn’t back Rod in the last election.”

    As the Blue Collar comedy fellas would say, “There’s your sign.”

    For a group that has been justly criticized as rank amateurs on a variety of other fronts, Blago and Co. show remarkable discipline on the matter of “reward our friends, hurt our enemies.”

    It’s redundant by now to even toss out another example. Suffice it to say, it’s all about Us. vs. Them, contracts, laws, rules, fair play, party loyalty, and even a bada** Fed staring you down with a fistful of subpoenas.

    To my AFSCME friends, “good faith bargaining” with this crew is an oxymoron. Your opportunity to use the expiry date of the current contract in order to strike will give them the opening to use the date to invalidate the rest of the contract and never look back.

    If you think these people have just been sitting back and taking Henry Bayer’s public outbursts, that was a big mistake.

    AA’s advice: Start groveling now. The taxpaying public will have a hard enough time differentiating the hard work done by your members on the wings and in the wards from Emil’s food stamps, Hollywood’s pay raise, and Carol’s pension bump without the damage a strike could do to your members’ reputation.

    Good luck and Godspeed. AA worked alongside AFSCME members and staff for the first 15+ years of their tenure in State Government and there wasn’t a bad egg in the batch. Don’t know that I could say the same about the (now) Rutan-exempt ranks.

  98. - Missing the point - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:14 pm:

    Does anyone think to ask why we have so many institutions where all these union members work? Noone in their right mind wants their disabled loved one in these places, but AFSCME and the towns that rely on the institutions (much like with prisons) prevent money from going to home and community services. Illinois ranks DEAD LAST in community services for people with developmental disabilities–ever wonder why??? Let AFSCME strike, take that money and use it to create a real community system, like every other state in the country is doing.

  99. - Disgusted - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:59 pm:

    Instead of taking out your venom on AFSCME members, try to see what really goes on.

    Union workers report to work every day, unlike the legislators who show up when they feel like it, do a few hours of work then take two weeks off. Almost like the jurors in the Rezko trial.

    There is no “Governor’s Office” anymore in
    Springfield. There are two secretaries who answer the phones and take care of the mail, period! Any response you get via phone or mail comes from Chicago. I doubt if the secretaries are AFSCME members.

    Union workers are doing two and three persons’ jobs because so many people have left state government, through retirement and for various other reasons, most of which start with “The Governor……” The high paid Blagojevich recruits hardly show up to work, especially if they are Chicago-based. They send their dictates via e-mail. This also applies to local Blago appointees. They do show up more but take frequent days off, none of which are charged against ABT time and they don’t know the names of the people who work for them or what they do, nor do they care. Imagine trying to do a good job in that environment.

    Last, union workers must meet work deadlines, work overtime when asked and make sure they account for ever minute of the day. Our illustrious elected leaders at the Statehouse, lollygag around, order in lunch and other things that arrive in brown bags, with a wink and a nod from those who should know better, meet with lobbyists to see just how much they can increase their retirement funds and take time off to go to things like political conventions, since, Lord knows, it can’t go on until they get there.

    So what does the union employee get for obeying the rules and doing two jobs for the price of one?
    He gets offered 1/2 of 1% as increased compensation and is then passed a larger bill for insurance commitments. The legislators get large salaries, work fewer hours, collect outside money, get driven to work and accept no responsibility for their actions.

    Seems to me the venom is misdirected. Re-elect NO incumbents!!!

  100. - steve schnorf - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:57 pm:


  101. - annon - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 1:43 pm:

    Can you say “Private Sector” or “Privatization” ….that’s where it’s headed with these service type jobs. 65K sweeping the floor.

  102. - PalosParkBob - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 10:45 pm:

    NO, they shouldn’t strike, and it’s for the best interest of the union members.

    While the IEA and IFT members continue to get raises 2 to three times the rate of inflation due to automatic real estate revenue increases at or above COLA, as well as state and federal funding increases per student at about double the rate of inflation, state health care workers are lucky if they don’t get pay cuts.

    A strike by AFCSME would give Blago an opportunity to scapegoat them and continue to take the money that should be going to their raises and give it to “education”, which really means giving more to the IEA and the IFT without improving services, or quality of education, for the children.

    The AFCSME should take a lesson from the IEA and IFT, BS the public that increased funding is “for the children” when the money really only funds some ridiculous raises and outrageous “early retirement benefits”, or should I say “second career subsidies” which they really are.

    Perhaps the worst thing about a strike would be that it would affect a few very profoundly, but the vast majority of the public would be unaffected.

    This would unjustly label their service as being of minimal value by the majority of the state, and perhaps set the stage for even worse treatment.

    For the record, if I were given the choice between giving a underpaid health care worker a decent raise and subsidizing a million dollar early retirement package for a $140K per nine month PE teacher, I say give the bed pan cleaner the money and to heck with the overpaid IEA teacher.

    Maybe that’s why the GOP and Dems work so hard at keeping me off the ballot….

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