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AFSCME responds to Quinn

Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

* Earlier today, I told you about an effort by Gov. Pat Quinn’s office to claim that the governor isn’t anti-union. Here’s AFSCME’s response…

Sadly, there they go again. Governor Pat Quinn and his staff routinely twist reality, mislead the public and insult the men and women who do the real work of state government in their communities every day.

Endlessly repeating lies does not make them true. Yet the 1200 words of empty political talking points issued today by a Quinn spokeswoman are riddled with repeated falsehoods and glaring omissions.

    · Quinn deliberately understates the danger posed by his litigious assault on workers’ right to collective bargaining and his long-running refusal to honor union contracts. The governor has broken his contracts with several unions representing state employees, refusing to honor workers’ fairly bargained pay schedules to which he himself had agreed. In a strongly worded award siding with workers, an independent arbitrator found that if the governor gets his way, “the collective bargaining process will be severely undermined.” Rather than complying with the arbitrator’s order, Quinn has provoked an ongoing court battle.

    · Quinn echoes Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan talking points on health care and retirement security, arguing to slash the modest pensions earned by public employees and excusing his devastating $2 billion cuts to Medicaid—that eliminated prescription drug help for seniors and took health insurance from thousands of working families—in order to “preserve” these programs, just as Romney and Ryan seek to privatize Social Security and voucherize Medicare on similar grounds. The people understand that the governor’s “forced choice” pension scheme in unfair and unconstitutional, causing retirees to either lose their health insurance or tens of thousands of dollars in pension benefits that enable seniors to keep up with rising costs for food and medicine.

    · Quinn time and again minimizes the damage of his threat to lay off some 4,000 disability and mental health caregivers, child protection workers, correctional officers, state police dispatchers and other state employees. He callously claims credit for the job protection provisions guaranteed by the union contract—but is utterly silent on the human consequences of slashing their essential work to protect public safety, prevent child abuse and care for the most vulnerable. He cries poverty but ignores the fact that the General Assembly fully funded nearly all the services and jobs he’s trying to cut. And as for the claim that alternative employment has been offered to every state worker whose job is threatened, it is simply false.

    · Quinn’s state-employee pay claims are patently false and wholly misleading. The net general increases received by most union members over the past 8 years equal just 23.25%–less than 3% per year. (Math: Gross increase 32.5% less 4% additional employee pension contribution and 5.25% withheld by Quinn.) Just 2 in 5 state employees are eligible for additional pay that rewards experience and encourages stability in the state workforce, and only a miniscule number could have been eligible for the sort of increases the administration claims all workers received. Meanwhile, Quinn pretends to forget the hundreds of millions of dollars these employees saved state taxpayers via pay deferrals, unpaid furlough days, health plan changes and innovative efficiencies, and never mentions that many do the jobs of two or three workers, since Illinois has the nation’s fewest state employees per capita.

    · Quinn ignores the reality of the state’s dangerously overcrowded prisons—built to safely hold just 33,000 inmates but now overflowing with an all-time high of more than 49,000—instead incredibly claiming the seven facilities threatened with closure are “empty,” “half full” and “no longer needed”.

    · Quinn twists his record on corporate tax loopholes by emphasizing what he failed to do and failing to mention what he actually did. Seeking accolades for his feeble support for closing a loophole that allows big oil companies to hide profits on offshore drilling platforms—a loophole that was never actually closed–Quinn neglects to mention his cheerleading role in tax giveaways to profitable corporations like Sears, Boeing, Motorola and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. They pocketed hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars with his support, then he cut health care for the elderly and disabled.

In each case, the administration’s playbook is the same: Dehumanize public service workers. Devalue the services they provide. And say anything to drown out or discredit them, regardless of the relationship of Quinn’s claims to the truth.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - reformer - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 1:25 pm:

    With friends like Quinn, who needs enemies?

  2. - Air-Is-Total - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 1:28 pm:

    Quinn, although perhaps not completely truthful, wins on clarity and simplicity of talking points. AFSCME still does not get it. Even their claimed number of “just under 3% per year, for the past 8 years” increase in base salary is enough to turn off the general public. Most workers would be ecstatic with those increases over the past 8 years.

  3. - University Retiree - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 1:39 pm:

    Problem 1 is Quinn’s word isn’t worth anything.

    Perhaps if Quinn would stop the pension nonsense, the union would agree to some furloughs.

  4. - Obamas Puppy - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 1:41 pm:

    He is and always will be what Harold Washington said he was a political gadfly. Good luck with that re-election effort.

  5. - Norseman - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 1:43 pm:

    I’m disappointed by the response. While I don’t believe the governor’s numbers, they look convincing to an uninformed public. AFSCME’s response appears to come off like the classic kids statement, “liar, liar pants on fire.”

    Playing off an ESPN Monday bit, “come on man.” AFSCME do a better job presenting your side.

  6. - Anon. - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 1:55 pm:

    I’m constantly amazed at unions failure to understand and/or use the leverage they have. If AFSCME, SEIU, CTU etc. threatened to sit out the November elections would the Ill. Dems get away with this?

  7. - Sideliner - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:07 pm:

    And this would be the one to sit out, giving the entire Democratic Party nationwide harsh notice.

  8. - Emily Booth - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:23 pm:

    Quinn’s demeaning of state employees began with Blago. At Blago’s first State of the State address, he made a joke putting down state employees. I knew right then and there we were going to be in for a rough time. Who knew it would get worse under Quinn?

  9. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:26 pm:

    - I knew right then and there we were going to be in for a rough time. -

    So rough that AFSCME bragged about having the best contract in the country?

  10. - fed up - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:35 pm:

    the problem is AFSCME bought Quinn in 2010 elcetion for 50K and an endorsement and Quinn took the money and endorsement and then reneged on his promises. Quinn lied union should be mad

  11. - Judgment Day - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:38 pm:

    Give AFSCME credit, their RRT (Rapid Response Team) is right on point. But, they have one problem that they just are not addressing, because they can’t.

    It’s called ‘affordability’. All their answers are some ‘furlough days’ and ‘close loopholes’, and all-in-all, that’s not going to cut it. Not close to what will be needed.

    What it comes down to is that both sides are just making noise - and lots of it. And thinking that the loudest one wins.

  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:43 pm:

    This is rich. We are admonished to not use talking points, and the union response is nothing but talking points and we are to discuss (of course without using talking points). I am convinces that much like most politicians when an union spokesperson’s lip are moving there is a lie.

  13. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:46 pm:

    So AFSME will be backing Quinn’s Republican opponent in 2014? …

  14. - Judgment Day - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:47 pm:

    “the problem is AFSCME bought Quinn in 2010 election for 50K and an endorsement and Quinn took the money and endorsement and then reneged on his promises. Quinn lied union should be mad ”

    Pat Quinn is just following a time honored political recipe from some political masters who went before him:

    “Son, if you can’t take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and then vote against ‘em, you don’t deserve to be here.”

    Attributed to Sam Rayburn (January 6, 1882 – November 16, 1961) Speaker of the US House; also attributed to Jesse Unruh D-CA, Speaker of the CA House (1922-1987).

  15. - Just Because - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:48 pm:

    I like AFSCME’s response. more details anyway. Quinn isnt even in the country!!!!! If the govenor would make an attempt to hire qualifed management and keep and eye on whats truely going on at the agencys. he could find cuts. I know for a fact in my agnecy we waisted 500K installing new PC’S. Getting ready to do it again. the unions letter is incorrect in one area. they had a great deal with the furlough program. Take 2 off get one free. then work overtime to make up the money. Nothing loss on the employees part.

  16. - dupage dan - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:50 pm:

    I’m rubber, you’re glue. Nyah nyah nyah.

    It would be fun to watch except that many, like me, are in the direct path of this freak show.

  17. - Generation X - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:55 pm:

    AFSCME is unwilling to take this thing national. Until they do so the Governor and staff will continue to lie, take cheapshots and demonize the workers of this state. As anonymous said they need to sit out the 2012 elections until someone sits n Quinns head from above

  18. - Crime Fighter - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:56 pm:

    ==It’s called ‘affordability’. All their answers are some ‘furlough days’ and ‘close loopholes’, and all-in-all, that’s not going to cut it. Not close to what will be needed.==
    Has there been any argument that Quinn & the millionaire’s attacks on our employees, if successful, will even put a real dent in the state’s debt?

    ==Most workers would be ecstatic with those increases over the past 8 years.==
    Do “most workers” think they’ve been treated fairly? Has cutting “most workers” real compensation been a good thing in support of skyrocketing executive compensation and record-setting corporate profits?

  19. - horseracer - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:02 pm:

    –if Quinn would stop the pension nonsense, the union would agree to some furloughs.–

    Labeling the pension problem “nonsense” is the problem. It is the biggest single financial challenge in state government.

    AFSCME screams bloody murder because Quinn is dealing with this very real, massive problem like a responsible adult.

    The gobbeldygook response from AFSCME reveals a worldview that’s sadly out of touch with reality.

  20. - Crime Fighter - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:07 pm:

    ==Labeling the pension problem “nonsense” is the problem. It is the biggest single financial challenge in state government.==
    So we’ll just wring the $85 billion we borrowed from our employees.
    Problem Solved! No back to the yacht club to enjoy some tax-exempt services.

  21. - Rod - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:34 pm:

    Re:Anon comment. I think the IFT and IEA tried this tactic of not funding Democrats that acted against their interests. It was generally believed that one reason Speaker Madigan supported SB7 which restricted CTU’s bargaining rights and made it easier to fire senior teachers on a statewide basis was in response to these unions holding back money from the Democratic Party.

    If you are going to mess with Democrats on an electoral level you need an alternative. The unions currently have no such alternative.

  22. - Anonymous 45 - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:37 pm:

    Where is Quinn’s surrogate at the bargaining table? If acions speak louder tha mere words, his actions tell me that he doesn’t respect the process enough to at least show up.

    Have other State union employees willingly given up 10% of their salary with significant cost increases to behefits? Please let me know if we should follow the crowd and fall off a fiscal cliff with them.

    The election in November will pass and this issue will still not be fully resolved. Obama has it in the bag in IL, so there’s no issue there, but what happens to Statewide elections when a significant number of legislative seats will be filled with newcomers in Springfield? Will incumbent Dems who have not broken with Quinn on this issue prevail? Who’ll do the legwork for the Dem candidates if there’s a strike? Lots of unknowns.

    The Trib ran an op-ed today by Steven Ashby of UIUC called Something’s Happening Here, saying the CTU strike may be a significant turning point in the labor movement in this country. Play it well, AFSCME, and keep the momentum building.

  23. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:38 pm:

    I see we are stumping for new taxes on the clearly under-taxed residents of Illinois.

    I wonder what miniscule tax would generate the 85 to 110B needed to close the budget gap?

    such a load of piffle

  24. - Chuck Stout - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:48 pm:

    Quinn’s mouthpiece should have moved the “false” label to their own version of the truth. Fact is: Quinn consistently takes the most generous version of public employee compensation and spins it as the average or the mean. If he were to use the real average his message loses all traction with average taxpayers.

  25. - Anonymice - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:50 pm:

    ==Quinn is dealing with this very real, massive problem like a responsible adult.==

    How is that? He’s not talking about reneging on any other state debt, which is what the pension obligation that has already been earned by employees is. When he starts talking about paying bondholders 80 cents on the dollar, and not just deferring payments to vendors but forcing them to accept a “discount,” then I might believe he is doing something besides taking cheap shots at state employees.

  26. - Justme - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:52 pm:

    I thought AFSCME’S pushback was sufficient here. Bad spin doctoring on overall wage increase percentage but other than that, decent. Much better than Brook’s say nothing, blame everyone but PQ talking points. I don’t think I have it bad as a state worker, but it gets really old listening to people whining about what we get compared to the private sector, claiming we are greedy crooks, being held responsible for all of the state’s financial woes. I pay taxes and work as hard to out food on the table as anyone else out there. The overall disrespect is exactly what incited the CTU.

    I welcome a strike vote. I don’t think AFSCME has been aggressive enough. They are in constant reaction mode. Let’s make a move. Show some teeth. Put out a proposal and stick with it already!

  27. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:56 pm:

    If Quinn were backing the GOP plan to private Illinois’ pension system, then the comparison to Romney-Ryan would be somewhat plausible. He’s not, so it’s not.

    If Quinn were backing a plan to hand state retirees a fixed sum of money to purchase health care on the private market, then the comparison to the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare would be plausible. He’s not, so its not.

    Oddly enough, Quinn’s plan bears some similarity to plans backed by President Obama. Unless I’m mistaken, Obama offered a plan to raise the retirement age (a reduction in benefits) and increase contributions for those above certain incomes in order to preserve Social Security and Medicare for retirees.

  28. - jimbo26 - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 4:02 pm:

    Quinn who says he cares about Illinois jobs just signed a contract with Health Management Systems in Irving, Texas for $18,100,000 instead of using State employees to do the work. Why send your taxpayer money to Texas?

  29. - concerned for Illinois - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 4:08 pm:

    Just a reminder that, as reported by Capitol Fax in Dec 2011, Illinois has the fewest State Employees per capita in the Country. These folks are stretched thinner and thinner every year doing difficult work like guarding prison inmates and keeping snow off the roads. They make a modest, but definitely not posh, wage and decent benefits. Is that so wrong???

  30. - Judgment Day - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 4:13 pm:

    As I see it, Quinn has six options:

    1) Raise taxes (again). Now, we’re not talking about just making the ‘temporary’ tax increase permanent. We would assume that the existing tax increase becomes permanent, plus increasing taxes even higher.
    2) Transfer every non-pension related expenditure being made by State of IL he can think of onto local governments for funding, saving State money.
    3) Make substantial reductions/limitations on both current and new employee retirement plans and retirement benefits.
    4) ‘Discount’ on existing bonds, paying bondholders, say 80 cents on the dollar.
    5) Adjusting payments to vendors by forcing them to accept a “discount” on their invoices.
    6) Wipe out all those ‘corporate loopholes’ many so lovingly like to attack.

    Ok, let’s see if we can address the results:

    1. Increase taxes. Not going to fly - not a prayer. Already know that.
    2) Transfer funding responsibility to locals. Being tried currently, much resistance. We’ll see.
    3) Retirement cutbacks. Being tried. We’ll see.
    4) Haircuts for bondholders. Technical default on all state bond issues, lose investment grade credit rating, congrats, we just became ‘Argentina’ of the USA.
    5) Haircuts for all the vendors. State wants to purchase anything, it’s cash up front. Some vendors might actually decide to require payment in gold and silver.
    6) Close ‘Corporate Loopholes’. Take all your economic development efforts and shut them down. Other states have a field day trying to raid IL for jobs (some, not all, but some will leave).

    There’s your action menu. But something to think about is that if we decide to totally/mostly skip #3, we may have to do all the other cutbacks in combination to reach the same level of numbers.

    Choose wisely.

  31. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 4:18 pm:

    Was just in soutern Illinois where this week Bombardier announced the loss of 340 jobs in Benton, IL. Not sure I would want to be an AFSCME member standing on the curb on strike when the people of Benton drive by.

  32. - sal-says - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 4:36 pm:

    Yada yada yada.

    A couple of IL pols or wanna-be’s have suggested ways to deal with the pension issue in ways that limits damage to all. What is the status and evaluations of these plans?

    None? Pols just want to keep demonizing State workers and retirees.

  33. - Justme - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 4:53 pm:

    FTR when I started at my agency 10+ years ago we had over 100 employees. Today we have less than 60. I do the work of two people. Many others on here have said the same. Never any acknowledgment from PQ for the sacrifice state workers have already made!

  34. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 4:54 pm:

    Illinois has the fewest State Employees per capita in the Country

    That partial truth again? Illinois also has the highest number of taxing bodies in the US. Many of the State functions have been delegated to these subsidiary bodies. To make the calculation accurate you have add in those who work for the additional taxing bodies.

  35. - Telling It Like It Is - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 4:56 pm:

    Yet,it is “a given” that the union vote will still go directly to Pat Quinn (and his Democrat legislative supporters) when they come up for re-election. It is as sure a thing as that the sun will rise in the east in the morning and set in the west at the end of each day.
    Like the small dog that gets starved and beaten by his owner, the little puppy (and the union’s “rank & file”) will still trot up to their “owner” and lick his hand whenever they see him. There is “loyalty” and then there is “blind loyalty”. The union leaders over the years have have managed to poke their “rank & file” in their eyes so now they blindly do whatever they are told to do. The union “rank & file” will always remember to “lick the hand” of the guy who owns them. It will be “Governor” Pat Quinn for as long as Pat wants it (or Mike Madigan lets him have it).

  36. - dave - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 5:10 pm:

    **So AFSME will be backing Quinn’s Republican opponent in 2014? …**

    Ever heard of a primary?

  37. - horseracer - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 5:22 pm:

    Justme - what agency?

  38. - Shemp - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 5:29 pm:

    Good grief. Just because someone doesn’t give you what they don’t have doesn’t mean that person doesn’t like you.

  39. - Ready to Get Out - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 6:07 pm:

    My bureau in a state agency had around 18 employees 10 years ago. Now…..5. We try to take up the slack, but there are only so many hours in the day. New work requests take much longer, and some never get done.

    Throughout the agency, people have left for other jobs or retired. Very few are replaced.

    Agency name withheld to protect the innocent!

    Every fellow state employee I talk to says the same thing is happening at their sites. Several have even told me at one “large” agency they have been given approval for unlimited OT to try and keep up. But they will not hire new help.

  40. - Emily Booth - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 6:22 pm:

    - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:26 pm:

    - I knew right then and there we were going to be in for a rough time. -

    So rough that AFSCME bragged about having the best contract in the country?

    When we couldn’t get staff for a program with federal mandates because our postings had to go thru Blago’s office, when I went without a raise for 4 years, when I worked for a governor who basically had no interest in admininstration, or his fiduciary duty or following the law, yeah, I would call that a rough time.

  41. - geronimo - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 6:36 pm:

    For anyone young enough and able, get out now. It’s bad enough when you have to work for a boss you can’t stand, quite another to have large factions of the population you help call you a money grubbing sleezebag. Advice to teachers, state workers, anyone who helps……………….get out.

  42. - Anon - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 6:41 pm:

    ==4) Haircuts for bondholders. Technical default on all state bond issues, lose investment grade credit rating, congrats, we just became ‘Argentina’ of the USA.
    5) Haircuts for all the vendors. State wants to purchase anything, it’s cash up front. Some vendors might actually decide to require payment in gold and silver.==

    Why do you think the market works any differently for state employees than it does for credit and outside vendors? You get what you pay for. Screw the current workers and retirees, and you will pay more for lower quality employees in the future.

  43. - Ruby - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 6:47 pm:

    Here are just some ways to incease revenue to pay state bills:

    Eliminate the tax loophole for Tax Increment Financing Districts and save “$1.2 billion a year”

    Eliminate Edge Tax Credits for large corporations and save “$347 million a year”;

    Eliminate Accelerated Depreciation or “write offs” of all assets and save “$333 million a year”

    Eliminate Single Sales Factor that “allows large corporations to cut their taxes 80-90% and save “$96-217 million a year”

    Eliminate Vendor Discounts that allow companies to keep an uncapped part of their state taxes as a ‘processing’ fee” and save “$126 million a year”

    Eliminate or cap the retailers’ discount that businesses keep: 1.75% of sales taxes paid for by the rest of us for an estimated new revenue of “$100 million a year”

  44. - SO IL M - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 8:02 pm:

    AFSCME doesnt want to settle this before the Election than Quinn does. The Members do, but Council 31 does not.
    On one side you have the Gov, who bragged in the 2010 primary that he was the most Progresive Candidate running. On the other side you have a Union who has thrown all in behind the Progresive Movement and is trying to line up its Members in the We Are One Illinois ranks. With the neat little logo of the fist and star, where have we seen that before? So we have a problem caused by a Progresive, with a group of Progresives rallying for the people affected by the problem.

    Look into Top Down - Bottom Up - Inside Out.
    We are all being sold a bill of goods here. The State Workers caught in the middle are getting it from both ends.

  45. - SO IL M - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 8:04 pm:

    AFSCME doesnt want to settle this before the Election any more than Quinn does.

    Sorry about that

  46. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 8:07 pm:

    @dave -

    I’ve heard of primaries. Have you ever heard of Dan Hynes?

    Who in the world does AFSCME think they are gonna con into running against Quinn in 2014?

    We’ve got a tax hike expiring and a fiscal cliff fast approaching.

    Is there a Democrat who is gonna run to the left of Quinn in a way that’ll make unions happy…promising not to touch pensions and to extend or even expand the temporary tax hike?

    How well do you think this imaginary candidate will fair against Aaron Schock in the General Election? Or even Kirk Dillard?

    Look, I know that Quinn might not be the best friend AFSCME has ever had. But let’s remember that it was AFSCME and the other unions who put Rod Blagojevich over the top in the primary in 2002. And thanks to Blago’s stubborn refusal to enact even a modest tax increase a decade ago, we find ourselves here today.

    That’s not the fault of the rank-and-file public employee. But it IS the result of choices that were made by the unions ago.

    Quinn, on the other hand, didn’t make this mess. He has a long history of supporting responsible revenue. Unlike the guy the unions put in the governor’s mansion, and unlike all of your Republican alternatives. And Quinn had the guts to campaign on a plan to raise the income tax in 2010, for which we should all be grateful.

  47. - Generation X - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 9:14 pm:

    So Il M.hit the nail on the head totally. Obama’s re-election trumps all for Council 31 and that should not be their primary concern when the Illinois Gov has declared war on labor

  48. - SO IL M - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 9:27 pm:

    Generation X—The problem is, I really dont know if Quinn has actually declared war on labor, or just provided a rallying point to draw people into We Are One Illinois. Given his, and AFSCME’s, record with the truth, either could be possible.
    And yes AFSCME showed in 2008 when they postponed CU-500 Contract Negotiations so that AFSCME Staff Reps could all go to Ohio to work for Obama which was more important.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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