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AFSCME protests Quinn at Democratic convention

Tuesday, Sep 4, 2012 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From an AFSCME press release, sent yesterday afternoon…

Just two weeks after a huge crowd of working men and women booed him off the stage on Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair, Pat Quinn found that he couldn’t escape responsibility for his anti-labor record even in Charlotte, NC.

Starting today at the Democratic National Convention, the state’s largest union of public-service workers — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 — announced it will publicize Governor Quinn’s push to lay off 4,000 state employees, slash retiree pensions and break union contracts while giving away hundreds of millions of dollars in new corporate tax loopholes.

The union will debut a new mobile billboard near Governor Quinn’s campaign fundraiser this evening at the Capital Grille, 201 N Tryon St., and will bring it to many events in Charlotte this week.

A letter sent this afternoon to the entire Illinois delegation laid out the governor’s record.

The letter is here. And here’s the mobile billboard referenced in the press release…

* Gov. Quinn talked about being pro-labor during a speech to Illinois delegates yesterday

“Today is a very special day in American history — it’s Labor Day and every day should be Labor Day. … It’s so important that we honor labor all the time,” the governor said. Quinn touted support for increasing the state’s minimum wage, which currently stands at $8.25 an hour, $1 above the federal minimum wage.

The misgivings of organized labor toward Quinn were muted somewhat by improvements in manufacturing jobs in the state as well as new United Auto Workers union jobs at the Chrysler Corp. plant in Belvidere, the Ford Motor Co. plant on Chicago’s South Side and the Mitsubishi Motors Corp. plant in Normal — successes Quinn readily touted to the delegates.

“I’m a friend of labor and I will always be friends to labor because they helped me,” Quinn told reporters later. “Governors have to make tough decisions. Sometimes they upset some people. But I think I’ll do well with ordinary working people in Illinois across our state because they know I fight hard for them every day.”

* Mike Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO

“I haven’t forgotten (Quinn) won by 32,000 votes (in 2010), and I think a few other people haven’t forgotten that either. I don’t know how he could win re-election again without making peace with labor. But we’re ready. We’ll be at the table. All it will take is a phone call,” Carrigan said.



  1. - just sayin' - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 9:37 am:

    I’m Lisa Madigan and I approved this message.

  2. - western illinois - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 9:42 am:

    The Illinois dems must want to have this against them instead of for them
    This looks like the kind of operation that could primary every single GA member to me with this kind of organization……

  3. - cassandra - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 9:46 am:

    A phone call to do what? Aren’t they already negotiating a new contract plus negotiating the impact of the the facility closures and other Quinn initiatives.

    If there is a special Quinn phone call with Big Labor, I think we taxpayers need to be on the extension.

  4. - Billy - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 9:48 am:

    Madigan is saying that in January, after the election, he will try to push his pension reform bill through the legislature, with only Democratic votes. Didn’t we go through the same thing with the income tax increase! Up go the property tax bills! Voting Democrat, is voting for a tax hike!

  5. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 9:58 am:

    “Gov Pat Quinn, unfair to Illinois ‘working families’”.

    Hey, AFSCME, who is your alternative? Bill Brady? NOTA? Stay home and don’t vote?

    Hey, AFSCME, what constitutes an Illinois working family? Union members and their families or the taxpayers who pay their wages?

    Signed, a state employee who would love to vote for JBT for guv!

  6. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:02 am:

    There is no benefit for Quinn to delay the inevitable. Bonds have tanked. Bills going unpaid. Screwing the state employees in the hopes that they are willing to get screwed is damn stupid at this point. Governor, honor your contract! You are already so deep in debt that honoring the contract is only another bucket of water poured on an already SUNK ship.

    Get real! Our fiscal fiasco can no longer hide behind budget gimmicks. Total up how deeply Illinois is screwed and come clean. We don’t believe you when you play these games.

    You can’t undo past poor decisions. You won’t get a Mulligan on your crass election year stupidity with AFSCME. The least your can do is meet the stated contractual obligations. Stop the stupidity!

  7. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:05 am:

    This makes Quinn sound like he is in the GOP…? And this is supposed to work for the GOP?

  8. - amalia - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:07 am:

    unions could have it lots worse than with Pat Quinn.

  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:15 am:

    Some people see through this. Kass was going on last week about how Big Labor still controls the Dems. So was George Will.

  10. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:17 am:

    If AFSCME wants to spread its message effectively via billboard truck, perhaps the truck ought to be driving around Chicago and not Charlotte, N.C.! The Illinois delegation to the DNC already knows about these issues (or should), the delegations from the other 49 states can’t do anything about it (because they don’t vote in IL), and residents of North Carolina probably wouldn’t know Pat Quinn from Adam. I suppose they want to discourage people from attending Quinn’s fundraiser but I’d think there are more cost-effective ways of doing that.

  11. - OneMan - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:19 am:

    == unions could have it lots worse than with Pat Quinn ==

    I know it hurts, but I could have shot you in the foot so don’t mind that hard kick to the groin…

  12. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:24 am:

    Quinn and Emanuel sought to take advantage of the anti-union animus the past few years. Now, it’s coming back to bite them. They should have expected this.

  13. - Both Sides Now - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:29 am:

    Let’s stop and think about the cost of this Union stunt a minute. I have no idea how much a rolling billboard in Charlotte would cost or how much the one in Springfield during the fair cost. But I would bet they aren’t cheap. Who paid for this? The Union; with the dues from their members. Dues that at a minimum, cost the members more than $400/year. Based on an SJ-R article, it appears there are more than 40,000 unionized state workers in Illinois. Do the math. That’s over $16 million each year that the Union takes in from the state’s rank and file! At a time when Illinois’ finances are in the tank, where could we spend $16 million? A lot of places more important than negative advertising that will assuredly do more harm than good. Any suggestions?

  14. - Mouthy - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:30 am:

    Quinn is running for reelection? Which party?

  15. - state worker - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:32 am:

    I think it is ugly to badmouth the governor st the DNC.

    AFSCME would look a lot more reasonable if they acknowledged the magnitude of our problems and stopped attacking the one person trying to do something about them. Even union supporters are starting to cringe. Grasp this: Life isn’t fair. Legislators don’t plan for the future. Now let’s come up with a solution that will serve AFSCME as well as it can and save the state.

    Too bad AFSCME forgot to kick and scream about their pension obligations under Blago.

  16. - Bill - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:43 am:

    ==Too bad AFSCME forgot to kick and scream about their pension obligations under Blago.==

    “Blago” never reneged on a contract, threatened to take away seniors’ health insurance, cut their pensions, close their workplaces illegally, demand they agree to a 10 per cent pay cut, etc.,etc.,etc..

  17. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:57 am:

    Rich can provide rich background on how Blago swept funds and failed to fund pension obligations, Bill.

  18. - OneMan - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 10:59 am:

    == “Blago” never reneged on a contract, threatened to take away seniors’ health insurance, cut their pensions, close their workplaces illegally, demand they agree to a 10 per cent pay cut, etc.,etc.,etc.. ==

    Bill that is all true, however when the pension obligations went underfunded under a host of governors it does seem to me the unions were mostly silent.

    State Worker — If the unions don’t complain about what Quinn is doing, what is the point of having a union at all… Like unions or dislike unions, this is the sort of thing you have a union for, to fight issues like this.

  19. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 11:02 am:

    Glad to see Bill and Vman providing a voice for the “Might as well keep kicking the can” crowd.

  20. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 11:05 am:

    AFSCME is in a tough spot. Playing hardball about the missed raises while negotiating a new constract makes sense.

    However, the last 2 contracts were unreal. Large pay raises and other benefits while the State’s fiscal situation and the national economy were tanking, and inflation was almost nonexistent. In hindsight, the contracts do not make sense.

    So to the man in the street, PQ’s stance has some resonance.

  21. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 11:08 am:

    - this is the sort of thing you have a union for, to fight issues like this. -

    Heaping all the blame on one elected official?

    What if they engaged legislators and helped craft a more palatable solution? Then maybe they could use their organization to gin up support for it?

    No, instead we just hear howling. It’s a lot easier for the leaders to focus their members’ rage on one person, but it seems a little short sighted to me.

  22. - Bill - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 11:09 am:

    Actually the IFT sued the state for its failure to fund pensions. The Illinois Supreme Court essentially ruled that the Constitution guaranteed that pensions be paid but was silent on funding. Public employee unions opposed short funding of pensions for decades but governors and legislators ignored them, the most egregious example being the Edgar/Schnorf pension ramp of ‘95.

  23. - Bill - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 11:16 am:


    That “one man” deserves most of the rage. He has continually excluded stakeholders from his numerous pension summits as his incompetent staff flails from flawed plan to flawed plan while he tries to fulfill the reason he was put on earth. This guy is the worst governor in my lifetime and that includes the four that went to the federal penitentiary.

  24. - RNUG - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 11:20 am:

    The first IL SC “underfunding” case under the Pension Clause was People ex rel. IFT v. Lindberg, 326 NE 2d 749 - Ill: Supreme Court 1975

    IFT was lead plaintiff, which also included the AFT, IEA and AFL-CIO

  25. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 11:32 am:

    - This guy is the worst governor in my lifetime and that includes the four that went to the federal penitentiary. -

    Like I said, you seem to be a big fan of kicking the can.

  26. - Shemp - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 11:39 am:

    Has AFSCME presented a “real” and legal plan to fix the pension problem if they don’t like what is being bantered about? It would be nice to see that they put that money to trash the governor toward some consultants to help them craft a pension reform plan they could live with. Then again, that would be proactive and then there wouldn’t be anything to complain about if it worked.

  27. - Ready To Get Out - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 12:36 pm:

    By some of the questions here and lately, it seems there are regular posters that never read the news or keep up with what’s going on.

    Get informed before posting, please. A lot of these questions have been answered numerous times in the past weeks and months, here and in the media.

  28. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===Get informed before posting, please.===

    Agreed. Also, this ain’t Google. Ask Google your question before asking us. Thanks.

  29. - Shemp - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 2:13 pm:

    My question was rhetorical. Weren’t most of them?

  30. - Hal Mebbles - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 2:27 pm:

    Shemp, the answer to your question is no.

    AFSCME’s leadership has disgraced itself and shamed its members with their attacks on Pat Quinn over the last few months. At the state fair, the AFSCME mob booed President Obama and tolerated obscene and threatening protestors who literally told the governor to kill himself in front of small children and unsuspecting fairgoers.

  31. - thunder - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 3:34 pm:

    I voted for Gov Quinn because the AFSCME asked the union members too however, come next election I will not vote for him. He has clearly shown his stand on labor unions and has no compassion what-so-ever for working families!!!!

  32. - Rusty618 - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 3:44 pm:

    =However, the last 2 contracts were unreal. Large pay raises and other benefits=
    I wouldn’t call a 1-3% a year raise “unreal”, while the legislators were giving themselves a 5% raise plus and 3% COLA increase, and Quinn was giving his staff 30-40% salary increases!

    =Has AFSCME presented a “real” and legal plan to fix the pension problem=
    Didn’t AFSCME give a proposal to the Gov which included employees paying more into the pension system?

  33. - Mouthy - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 3:50 pm:

    The unions should stick it to Quinn every chance they get. It works. It is by far the union’s best weapon.

  34. - South - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 4:07 pm:

    Great idea AFSCHME, from a AFSCHME member

  35. - wishbone - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 4:10 pm:

    Quinn is going to look good to the unions after Rahm pulls a Reagan, fires the striking teachers, and fills their jobs with new hires. Just kidding, ain’t gonna happen. Much easier to raise property taxes.

  36. - Shemp - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 5:03 pm:

    I know this requires some high level thinking, but given the magnitude of the problems with the budget/pensions, isn’t it better to come up with a “real” (I mean actually solves the problem) solution that the union can live with rather than just fluffy ideas and angry protests? If they don’t come up with a workable plan, aren’t they just rolling the dice on getting stuck with something even less palatable? Granted, devising a real solution takes actual work beyond coming up with cute slogans and pretty banners, but it would seem like the reasoned thing to do….

  37. - Independent - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 5:04 pm:

    It is time for the unions to quit putting all their eggs in one basket. All they do is support the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates. Maybe it is time for AFSCME to endorse the Green party?

  38. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 5:25 pm:

    –Quinn is going to look good to the unions after Rahm pulls a Reagan, fires the striking teachers, and fills their jobs with new hires.–

    Under law, Chicago school teachers have a right to strike.

    PATCO did not.

    I know some thing that letting go the PATCO workers was a seminal event in Reagan’s singular march of freedom, but I’m thinking confronting anything that moved that looked Commie since 1950 was bigger.

  39. - RNUG - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 6:12 pm:

    Shemp @ 5:03 (and any newbies to the pension debate)

    Here’s a short but also a bit biased (on my part since I’m a retiree) answer:

    Go read these:

    When you finish, you’ll see there aren’t a lot of options left to the State except revise the “pension ramp-up” law, cut welfare spending, increase and/or expand taxes, shift what they can (future TRS in total & the Community College part of SURS) back to the local communities, and, maybe if the unions aren’t too mad, get some additional employee contributions at the expense of a very strict agreement to make all future pension payments.

    The GA doesn’t want to do any of it except the increased contributions by employees w/o state payment guarantees. After the Nov. election, the GA will pass one of the current proposals that is most likely at least partially unconstitutional, in violation of contract law and the existing court decisions, wait for the courts to kick it out, then raise taxes while blaming the judges.

    It’s not about fixing the problem; it’s about fixing the blame.

  40. - DuPage Dave - Tuesday, Sep 4, 12 @ 7:15 pm:

    Once again- the pension issues affect non-union workers as well as union workers. This is not all about unions.

  41. - Zoble21 - Wednesday, Sep 5, 12 @ 8:17 am:

    Unions get to realize their time has come and gone. They need to get real and know that the non-union majority are tired of the complaining that the 3X the normal pay is still not enough.

  42. - KurtInSpringfield - Wednesday, Sep 5, 12 @ 8:23 am:

    @Both Sides Now:

    I also read that article in the SJR about union dues.
    “Paul Kersey: Union dues are a secret ‘union tax’ Posted Sep 04, 2012 @ 12:01 AM)”

    It is, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, deceitful.

    First, the union dues are deducted from wages I earn, not directly from the General Revenue fund. If union dues aren’t paid, the money would go into employees’ pockets NOT back into general revenue, so there would not be $16 million for the state to spend elsewhere.

    Second because these are wage deductions, saying taxpayer money is supporting unions is like saying taxpayer money is supporting various religious organizations through employee charitable giving. In other words every dollar given to churches by state employees is taxpayer supported. Ridiculous! Oh, you say “but those are not payroll deducted”. No, but contributions through the SECA campaign are payroll deducted, and some of them do go to religious organizations. So are those taxpayer funded or paid by employees from their earnings?

    Another major issue the article did not explore is how many state employees like myself voluntarily pay full dues rather than fair share? Fair share is another issue. Bottom line: once I earn income from the state it becomes my money. How I spend it is my own choice. Deductions and contributions from my paycheck are my own. They are no longer taxpayer dollars.

  43. - KurtInSpringfield - Wednesday, Sep 5, 12 @ 8:33 am:


    The unions, through the We Are One coalition, have offered a workable, realistic, constitutional solution for the Pension issue. Here it is:
    The coalition’s alternative framework includes the following:

    •A guarantee that the state will pay its portion as required. That hasn’t happened for decades, as legislatures have diverted money to other programs.
    •A true look at revenue by closing loopholes for big corporations that hurt taxpayers of Illinois. Closing loopholes such as those giving special treatment to the offshore profits of oil companies and foreign dividends of large corporations could generate nearly $900 million a year. This annual amount could be dedicated to the retirement systems and yield more than $80 billion by 2045.
    •With a guarantee that the state would pay its portion, current employees who are reliant on the pension systems for their retirement security would help address the crisis by paying a little more, even though they have contributed their portion over the years.
    •Current retirees would not be impacted in any way by changes to the pension regimen.

    It was immediately rejected by our States’ leaders. When Quinn formed his working group in the spring, the unions were left out. When they meet to discuss pension reforms, the unions are left out. When the unions make a proposal it is immediately rejected. Why? Our leaders, especially Quinn seem to shun union involvement in pension reform when they should be encouraging them to be involved as stakeholders in the outcome.

  44. - Shemp - Wednesday, Sep 5, 12 @ 9:02 am:

    A plan that is merely a “guarantee” to make the necessary payments isn’t a workable plan unless someone figures out what to pay it with. I’d like to see where the $900m figure is coming from (what the unintended consequences may be) and what pays for the increasing liabilities beyond the current $80b+. Other articles cite savings more like $500m per year. Then there is the problem that the State will have to continue to wrestle with other deficits as costs grow and part of any savings will face competing interests from Mediaid payments, labor contracts, construction inflation, etc.

    And again, the $80billion is under-reporting the shortfall because it is based on an unrealistic rate of return.

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