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Bill to strip workers of union membership goes to Senate floor

Thursday, May 31, 2012

* I was shocked into reality when I found out a couple years back that legislative liaisons were being allowed to join a union. I know many of these people. Many of those are my friends or at least friendly acquaintances. But if anyone ought to be “at will” employees, it should be liaisons. Their jobs are based on politics and on who the governor is. But anyone who joined the union in 2010 would still have a job today if Sen. Bill Brady had defeated Gov. Pat Quinn. That’s not right.

Look, I fully understand why management and political types chose to join the union. They were getting the shaft by the Blagojevich administration and then by Quinn himself. They haven’t gotten pay raises in years. They’re often not treated well on the job and have too little job security.

But we have a situation now where, according to the administration, there is only one non-union employee at the Jacksonville Developmental Center. That means two out of three shifts have no non-union management on the job. That’s a bit crazy, man.

The House passed a bill last year that stripped up to 1,900 employees of their union membership. The Senate Democrats have been trying to work out a deal ever since. Those negotiations failed and the Senate Executive Committee passed the bill to the floor last night, where it awaits final action

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has pushed for the legislation because he fears without it, 99 percent of the state workforce, including some of the top decision-makers in government, will have union protection.

In addition to deputy directors and legislative liaisons, those with Rutan-exempt jobs, term appointees and at-will appointees could be affected, said Robb Craddock, a labor relations official with Central Management Services. […]

Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said that senior state workers were underpaid and mistreated under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich so they moved to unionize, a point not disputed by Quinn administration officials in their testimony. This measure could result in those employees again having lower salaries and poor treatment, he said.

The bill, which would only affect union employees hired after December 2008, could result in nearly 2,000 workers being ejected from the union, Bayer said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - LINK - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:25 am:

    Shades of Wisconsin….

  2. - Reality Check - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    There’s not 2,000 legislative liaisons. That argument is being used as cover to turn back the clock and strip 2,000 people of their to collective bargaining. The labor board ruled on each one of these people and found them eligible. If there are operational problems, the administration should work it out with the union, not try to use this blunt instrument to wipe out the rights of thousands of people.

  3. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:28 am:

    ===There’s not 2,000 legislative liaisons.===

    Never said there were. Notice the paragraph about JDC?

  4. - Freeman - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:36 am:

    === Their jobs are based on politics and on who the governor is. ===

    I would add that most, if not all, of them are fully cognizant of this aspect and understand it when signing up. At least the ones I know do.

  5. - Reality Check - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:39 am:

    ===The labor board ruled on each one of these people and found them eligible. If there are operational problems, the administration should work it out with the union, not try to use this blunt instrument to wipe out the rights of thousands of people.===

  6. - STP - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:44 am:

    With the consolidation of departments many of the liaisons were taken from the legacy departments - yet - the consolidated department could not address the issues of the legacy agencies - remaining staff picked up the work adding it to their current jobs - the second point is - how many years do these folks go without a raise - 10 years is to long - so - treat people fairly - and the issues regarding the union will be diminished

  7. - Honestly - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:44 am:

    Senior management and professional staff such as Public Service Administrators and Senior Public Service Administrators who competently perform their duties are often overruled and retaliated against by Blago/Quinn-appointed Deputy Directors. The Quinn Administration has Lisa Madigan on their side, it makes sense for senior employees who ethically perform get some protection also. This is Walkeresque.

  8. - where are the solutions - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    It’s easy to say that the union organizing has gone too far. Since many of the legislative liaisons are in their first job out of college the impact on those folks is probably not a big deal. But what does anyone think is going to happen once you strip collective bargaining from the managers who joined a union only because after decades of getting the same raises the union emploees got didn’t get raises for 5-10 years? It only makes sense for those who can to retire a.s.a.p.. This will only cause a new flight to SRS and the further brain drain is going to be devastating.

  9. - AC - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    If this passes many nurses in my agency will be stripped of their bargaining rights, some of which have no subordinates, and that doesn’t match the stated reasons for supporting this bill either. But, what about PSA’s brought in before 12/2/2008? AFSCME seems to think this will include all PSAs, but a read of the bill indicates otherwise.

  10. - Raising Kane - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    I don’t think the 1,900 people get “thrown out” of the union. I believe the Gov has to pettition and show cause why a position should be removed from the union. My guess is that far less that half would actually be taken out. Last night President Cullerton mentioned a trailer bill to add some parameters to the bill. That might make a lot of sense, I think unions should take that compromise.

  11. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:53 am:

    Wow. If this happens I guess those two days I spent learning how to be an AFSMCE steward will be for naught. Our office here will lose both AFSCME stewards. I guess my pay will be cut as well and I’ll be on the bubble to lose my job. This isn’t a good day.

  12. - LINK - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    I just love the lack of details even after reviewing SB1556…

  13. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:56 am:

    Does the bill only affect those hired after December 2008 or were unionized after December 2008 ?

    “The bill, which would only affect union employees hired after December 2008, could result in nearly 2,000 workers being ejected from the union, Bayer said.”

  14. - Call the Wahmbulance - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 11:01 am:

    We’re about 2 employees away from having everyone in state government unionized besides elected officials.

  15. - anon - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 11:06 am:

    Brady voted present in exec committee.

  16. - AC - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 11:07 am:

    Anonymous: you aren’t the only Steward who would be impacted by this. The bill is too vague to support. Why have a trailer bill to fix the issues? Why not introduce a better bill that truly addresses the problem without also potentially impacting a large number of professionals with specialized training? What about employees who have been represented by a union their entire career and took promotions to titles impaced by this bill before it was introduced?

  17. - been there - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    The furloughs for non-union employees were a powerful incentive to join the unions.

  18. - Freeman - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    === Why have a trailer bill to fix the issues? Why not introduce a better bill ===

    Not a fan of the trailer bill technique in general myself.

    It feels like patching a leak with silly putty and saying, “We’ll come back with the real stuff later.”

  19. - Raising Kane - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 11:42 am:

    The reason this time would be that the union hasn’t wanted to negotiate so passing this would force them to engage in real negotiations and at least get the legislative liason’s out.

  20. - anonymice - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    As the rush of state employees to the doors accelerates.

  21. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    I have heard that negotiations are including issues involving the future of some management titles. I have heard that the titles above paygrade 20 could be losing representation. But I have also heard that some of the higher grade managers might be retained in the union but be allowed to do some management functions, such as impose discipline & hear grievances.

    “The reason this time would be that the union hasn’t wanted to negotiate so passing this would force them to engage in real negotiations and at least get the legislative liason’s out.

  22. - lincolnlover - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:09 pm:

    Until my boss was allowed to join a union, I made $4000 a year more than she did and she has 5 years more seniority than me. That’s not right. No raise for almost 8 years and the first one to have to take furlough days. No wonder mid-managers want to be unionized.

  23. - Both Sides Now - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:12 pm:

    “Henry Bayer… said …This measure could result in those employees AGAIN having lower salaries and poor treatment”

    AGAIN?! I haven’t had a raise in 4 years, had to take furlough days and the one person I supervise makes more money than me. I am treated poorly and have a lower salary NOW!!! So you betcha I was one of the SPSAs that signed up to be in the union. Assuming this newest bill doesn’t pass, any idea of when SPSA union membership will occur?

  24. - Rank-and-file member - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:33 pm:

    Union person here and I like this idea. The management merit hacks that came in with Blago jumped to get union protection as the Blago ship was sinking. Let them fend for themselves without union protection, it’s a back-door way to get that “fumigation” we all wanted and never got from Quinn.

  25. - AC - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 1:00 pm:

    Rank and File member: A lot of people woukd support this legislation if it were targeted toward the types of individuals you describe. Unfortunately, this bill impacts people pretty close to the bottom in some agencies.

  26. - anon - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 1:15 pm:

    This bill is nothing more than union busting! Shame on Gov. Quinn for acting Walkeresque” If there are individuals that need to be dealt with, fix those problems. This bill is taking a machete to union rights for state employees when they should be using a scapel.

  27. - anon - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    OOps, scalpel! Sorry, I was in enraged and a hurry

  28. - johhnypizza - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 1:50 pm:

    I believe something like 98% of all state employees are in one bargaining unit or another. If 2,000 are removed what does that leave - 96%. That is not union busting! That being said, as a merit comp hack who earns less than many of the people I supervise and has to perform investigations and perform disciplinary functions that people 2 levels below mine used to perform, I would be very satisfied if some union positions would just be able to perform those functions. I came on board in 2009 as a registered R in a D district in a D state so I like to think I was hired on merit not on who I knew but a track record of excellence. Not everyone is in it for him/herself.

  29. - STP - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:06 pm:

    It is amazing that SPSA’s that picked up the slack as staff positions were not filled - some addrssed legislation - and all the talk is about unions’s when the issue is FAIR PAY AND RESPECT - 10 years without a raise is to long - furlough days - and staff you supervise (if any are left) make more then you - there is nothing in this legislative session that will give a raise for another year - some of us are not political 25 years ago the state asked for our help and we joined up - sorry about that one

  30. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:14 pm:


    Not all of us that could be affected are what you describe. I have worked the front lines for 32 years, the last 9 in management positions. Until my position was added to the union I did not receive a raise for years. Additionally, when Blago decided to have the state stop picking up my portion of the pensions, he phased it in over several years & gave raises to union members to offset the payment. For merit comp employees, I just got an immediate 4% pay cut, which lasted for 2 years (during the economic boom of the early-mid 2000’s). Since I can go now, if this passes, it makes no economic sense for me to stay with the state. With the zero raises & mandatory furloughs (& possible pay cuts since they can do whatever they want when there is no collective bargaining) I will say adieu to the state & start collecting my retirement. Good luck finding replacements. Before we became unionized nobody wanted the management jobs.

    “Union person here and I like this idea. The management merit hacks that came in with Blago jumped to get union protection as the Blago ship was sinking. Let them fend for themselves without union protection, it’s a back-door way to get that “fumigation” we all wanted and never got from Quinn.”

  31. - Anon - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:57 pm:

    Sounds like a no brainer to me. Hope that it’s just the first step.

  32. - Southern Peggy R - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 4:38 pm:

    Wow. I don’t know if the particulars of this bill are just, as some folks here are questioning, but I am impressed that Quinn et al see some limits to public union reach.

  33. - I am done! - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 5:39 pm:

    I too am one of those SPSA’s who’s plate of responsibility is overflowing because of not filling management positions. I worked longer and harder hours managing employees where the majority make $6000 - $15000 more a year than me. Training them, cleaning up their mistakes and being verbally abused by them. I am done, I am retiring. It is not always about political hacks. I have worked for 34 years giving my all to be treated disrespectful by this legislature and agency senior management, it is shameful. Yes we tried to get into the union because of these reasons.

  34. - Steve Bartin - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 5:43 pm:


    This is a good post. Very good.

  35. - daviduv - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 6:52 pm:

    What does it matter if you’re in the Union or not. The Governor doesn’t honor the contract anyway. I didn’t get the last contractual raise, a raise might I add that we delayed to save jobs and facilities, many which they are voting to lay off and close, or a contractual step increase. The Governor stated he had no money, and the courts ruled that we can’t force the State to spend money. Shades of Scott Walker? Shades of the McCormick Reeper Works and the Haymaker Riots. We should be happy that the Legislators and the Governor aren’t hitting us with ax handles.

  36. - park - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 8:00 pm:

    There’s all sorts of things hidden in this bill, and things like legislative liaisons are a smokescreen. For one thing, the bill permanently removes lawyers working for the attorney general’s office from organizing. some of them tried last year. Madigans won’t let that happen again. Also SOS and Treasurer employees who, though not managerial “provide input on policy”. every employee does that. Ask Ascfme what this last second bill is all about.

  37. - Sox fan - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 8:01 pm:

    My job was added to be the union a couple years ago, which was nice because I serve under a vengeful, mentally unstable, unqualified Blago hack. Today, I just reached 20 years of service time…a date I’ve always looked forward as justification for all those years of low govt. paychecks. Plus, I work for one of the agencies that didn’t get salary increases. I’m not even going to talk about the pension bill (quite frankly, it seems rather ludicrous that the GA thinks it’ll pass constitional muster, but that’s an argument for another day). Plus, I work for one of the agencies that didn’t get salary increases.

    Am I bitter? Not yet, but if the pension system totally collapses years from now (when its time for me to retire), then my anger will not aimed only at our clueless elected ” leaders” over the past 40 years, but also aimed squarely at Afscme leadership for not coming to the table and negotiating a fair increase in current employees’ retirement contribution.

    The longer we wait, the closer we get to that day. Winning in court won’t mean anything when that day arrives. We have a Governor today who doesn’t care if he’s reelected. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get our fiscal house in order. So Henry Bayer: Are you reading this? This Afscme member is asking you to increase my contribution to the pension system. Many of my fellow brothers and sisters feel the same way.

  38. - Fred - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 8:09 pm:

    This is not considered union busting. If this bill takes 2000 employees out of the union, that would mean that 90 percent of state government is still unionized. I grew up in a union household and whole heartedly support the concept behind unionization. To hear AFSCME call this union busting is crazy. There needs to be a healthy balance of union/management.

  39. - Sox fan - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 8:50 pm:

    Fred is right. Did unions ever think they’d see the day when 96% (or higher) of the state’s workforce would be unionized? Keep in mind, many of those 2000 employees are like me; Im confident in Afsmce’s abilities in justifying that my position should be in the union. So In the end, Fred’s 90% estimate will almost assuredly not be approached.

  40. - sense of a goose - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 9:54 pm:

    How about having a commission decide merit comp salaries like they do our elected officials? When we have state facilities that have 300 employees and only 1-5 of them out of the union, there is a problem. Those few people have to take a day off once in a while. Who manages in their absence? We have gone too far and I’ve helped organize an office before but let’s have some balance.

  41. - SDP - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:00 pm:

    I am onboard with Sox Fan. I am a PSA who may or may not be impacted by this bill. It’s true that they can’t fill my position when it isn’t in the union. However, would someone PLEASE let the employees VOTE on contributing more to the pension system? I think we all SHOULD! I have no problem helping to dig the pension system out of the hole that the GA buried it in. Sure it isn’t our fault, but none of us want to see the system collapse. Everyone thinks that they are speaking for or over the employees, but no one is letting us speak for ourselves or asking what we would be willing to do. Give us a real voice!

  42. - Anon - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:03 pm:

    Does anyone know if this bill passed?

  43. - SDP - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:11 pm:

    Anon-I’ve been watching online and checking updates, but I don’t think we’ll see any answers before morning. I’m sick with worry over it, as the rumors are flying on the job. I’ve heard that the PSA 2 s were kicked out of the union and returned to pre union salaries and even that they have to pay back the increases that they rec’d. I don’t believe any of it, although it came from a supervisor in the capital. Stories like this just feed the sense of hysteria.

  44. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 10:25 pm:


    All the new law would do is change the definitions of supervisor & manager. The state would have to petition the Labor Board to remove any individual from collective bargaining. Nobody would be kicked out just because the law passes, & nobody would be required to pay back pay received while covered by collective bargaining.

    “Anon-I’ve been watching online and checking updates, but I don’t think we’ll see any answers before morning. I’m sick with worry over it, as the rumors are flying on the job. I’ve heard that the PSA 2 s were kicked out of the union and returned to pre union salaries and even that they have to pay back the increases that they rec’d. I don’t believe any of it, although it came from a supervisor in the capital. Stories like this just feed the sense of hysteria.”

  45. - JustaJoe - Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 8:50 am:

    I too would like to check the particulars of the bill…what’s the number?
    But Rich, your lead-in is correct. I personally witnessed this happen, and for those taking typical partisan positions, know these things: 1)line management and professionals have long been non-union; 2) as people left or were pushed out, MANY state jobs were left vacant or “eliminated”, often filled by more-expensive outsourcing, often as in-house substitutes for state employees; 3) political patronage people have been brought in to every level of job…not just liaisons…in open defiance of the Rutan decree; 4) as Rich says, the remaining line management & professionals have been, and are, mistreated & without raises and “bonuses”; 5) the unions have looked the other way with regard to the erosion of the bargaining units and instead accepted the gradual absorption of the political patronage appointees and the line management & professionals instead; 6) the line management & professionals willingly accept the union coverage because they believe that the unions will afford them some protection; and 7) now the state has an army of political patronage people with union protection….how would any new administration rid itself of these people? How do managers impose discipline on other members of their same union? And what about the state employee job vacancies that would otherwise have new people (presumably under a revised pension plan) who are not there to pay into the system?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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