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Quinn responds to AFSCME slams

Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

* This is from an op-ed for Progress Illinois written by Brooke Anderson, Governor Pat Quinn’s press secretary

- AFSCME claims the governor wants to lay-off 4,000 employees. False. Every employee laid off as the result of a closure of a juvenile facility or prison is offered another job within their own agency or other state agencies. The governor believes it is NOT in the interest of taxpayers to keep empty or half-full, very expensive facilities that are no longer needed open at taxpayer expense.

- AFSCME claims the governor is “breaking union contracts and undermining collective bargaining. False. Governor Quinn believes in collective bargaining. AFSCME has enjoyed the best contract in the nation. Over the past eight years, AFSCME employees have received pay increases that equate to 45 percent. Illinois AFSCME members make, on average, 23 percent more than their peers in comparable states.

- AFSCME claims the governor wants to take away pensions from employees. False. Governor Quinn wants to preserve the pension system because the status quo is unsustainable. Illinois has the worst-funded pension system in the country. Governor Quinn has proposed a plan that repairs the pension system by giving existing employees a choice – they can either keep their pensionable Cost of Living Adjustment the way it is and not access the state’s excellent healthcare or they can access the healthcare and accept a reduction of COLA to lesser of 3% or ½ of CPI, simple interest. At a time when some states have frozen COLA’s and many employees have seen their retirements eliminated, the governor’s plan preserves the system and ensures employees have access to benefits.

- AFSCME claims the governor has doled out hundreds of millions in tax breaks to corporations and resisted closing loopholes for oil companies. False. Governor Quinn proposed and pursued legislation that closes the oil derrick loophole this year. In fact, the governor has long supported closing loopholes that are based on politics and not economics. In fact, Governor Quinn fought for and doubled the Earned Income Tax Credit, the best tool we have available to provide targeted tax relief to working families.

- AFSCME claims that the Governor refused to pay for pay raises that were promised: False. In fact, the governor included the raises in his proposed budget – the General Assembly took the raises out. To be clear, we cannot pay for raises if there is no money in the budget to pay for those raises.

However, AFSCME and the governor do agree on this - AFSCME refuses any change to the status quo. They would prefer no closures, no pension reform and no spending cuts. They’re fine with things just as they are.

I’m betting there will be an AFSCME response in my in-box in 5, 4, 3…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - langhorne - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:05 am:

    i look forward to the rebuttal from afscme and others. quinn does not have a good record of late w the numbers and interpretations he uses. 45% raises? 23% more than state emloyees in other states? prove it. tax breaks, um, yeah he has given expensive tax breaks. he has been in favor of eliminating loopholes forever, and it has gone pretty much nowhere. the current system is “unsustainable”–and whose fault is that? the GA and governors have screwed the system and employees, now they want to screw the employees again to make up for it.

  2. - nieva - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:08 am:

    I feel so much better now!

  3. - Cassiopeia - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:14 am:

    Quinn continues to have trouble with facts. Brooke’s credibility is tarnished as well by using numbers that have no basis in reality.

  4. - dupage dan - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:17 am:

    We should all get together and march on the Capital. We should occupy the rotunda and raise our voice against the imperial Gov Walker, er Quinn.

    It has been posted here before that you could fire all the state employees and barely make a dent in the debt/deficit. What is Quinn’s end game here? As a state employee I am not happy about the state of the pension. For the vast majority of us - we bear no responsibility for the crisis. We paid into the pension as required - will not get the kind of sweetheart deals that the Tribune trots out periodically - and now we seem to be the center of Quinn’s campaign to balance the budget.

    Penion reform is coming - it has to. Health care costs are increasing - due, in part, because of little market incentives to hold costs down. But the loss of 2 step increases will have a major impact on folks who are living paycheck to paycheck in state jobs w/modest incomes. I may have missed someone else’s post regarding how much that one item would save over the next 2 years. I bet it ain’t even a drop in the barrel.

  5. - dupage dan - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:17 am:

    oops - should be Capitol.

  6. - Pelon - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:23 am:

    This shows why the Quinn administration has such a hard job governing. Almost every response fails to address the actual complaint or distorts the truth in an attempt to refute it. This type of response does nothing to help with the negotiation process. It appears Quinn is determined to break the union instead ofreach a compromise that would be acceptable to both sides.

  7. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    Why now? Isn’t there an election coming up? Plenty of time to pummel each other in the veto session.

  8. - BMAN - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:30 am:

    The truth lies somewher in between. Although I believe the Governor’s spin doctors have won a place in infamy!

  9. - Irish - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:35 am:

    Item one prisons - Quinns statement =Fabrication. Independent studies have documented prison overcrowding and unsafe working conditions for guards. Quinn will not let media into prisons to verify the truth.

    Item two - contract breaking - Quinns response = fabrication. Items guaranteed in the contract AND in a separate Memorandum of Understanding where union workers gave concessions, ie: furlough days and pay deferrments, have been taken away by the Governor, in spite of the union meeting the dollar ampount of savings asked for by the Governor. He Has broken the contract and continues to fabricate numbers to make it look like rank and file workers are greedy and unwilling to give concessions.

    Item three - cutting pensions. Quinn’s response = Spin. The pension debt is unsustainable because the GA and past Administrations robbed the money from the pensions AND refused to make their portion of the payments. Now they want the responsible people who have made ALL of their payments even paying an increase in pension payments to foot the bill for the administrations’ past nonfeasance.

    Item four - Tax breaks to corporations - Quinn’s response = misdirection and fabrication. The charge was tax breaks to corporations and oil companies. Quinn did not answer the corporation charge because there was no defense. He has given millions away to corporations in agreeements that were not fully explained to the public nor the GA.

    Item five - Refusing to pay raises and steps. Quinns response = Fabrication and misdirection. The Governor claims he included the money in his budget yet HE set up which Agency got what amount of money. In the Agencies that were not able to give raises he made sure their allotment would not be enough to cover the raises. The union dug into the books and found hidden money in some of those agencies and they ended up having to give the raises. In other agencies the union is having a hard time getting responses to FOIA requests that would show there is money in those agencies also. So the transparent Governor, the Reformer is not what he claims to be.

    If the Governor is REALLY trying to abide by the contract AND is not responsible for any of this why has he changed the CMS Personnell Code to eliminate longevity increases for employees in the unions and has them now based on merit. Anytime longevity or any raises are based on merit they become a political carrot. The middle managers got into the union because in the past they did not get raises unless they were a “friend” of the administration. Mr. Reformer has returned all union employees to those days with this action, in spite of RUTAN. Or if the Governor is really wanting to give the raises to the rest of the employees why does he not go to the GA and ask them to appropriate enough money for them. He won’t because the GA will tell him they did. Just like they appropriated enough money for the prisons that are going to be closed
    anyway. The Governor is playing the tired old game that past administrations have played with the pensions. By law the payments are supposed to be made but if the money is included in the budget that satisfies the law and then is the money is not appropriated the payments don’t have to be made. Same circus different clown.

    And finally the last item. Quinn’s response = Fabrication. the union has offered to no wage increases in the upcoming contract AND an increase in pension contributions AND they will have an increase in health care costs due to SB1313. It is the Governor who is unwilling to negotiate.

    Quinn reformeer - False
    Quinn truthful - False
    Quinn open and transparent - False

  10. - walkinfool - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:36 am:

    Why now? Trying to fill the void while the Gov. is in Brazil.

  11. - Flan - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:37 am:

    As a state worker, I really wish I knew where that 45% pay raise went. I sure never saw it. In the last year, my raise had been 0%. I guess Brooke never took a math class…

  12. - the Patriot - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:39 am:

    AFCME has a problem because they can’t point out the real fraud of the Governor’s cuts which is there is very little savings. When payroll is the biggest expense and you don’t fire anyone you don’t have savings. He wants to cut Tamms and use the money for DCFS. The problem is most of the money he saves closing Tamms will cover increased costs at the other facilities which will now have more inmates and more employees. AFSCME can’t point that out because it would bait the Gov into layoffs not transfers.

    Don’t forget this is really Madigan’s doing. He ran up the debts long before Quinn had a say in it. He drafted and orchestrated the passage of every budget for more than a decade. The problem for Quinn is his own party Chair has set him up and he is not smart enough to know it.

  13. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:41 am:

    I read the whole thing. Pretty well written. I too look forward to AFSCME’s counter to the facts posted above. I will say it almost always puts unions in a tough position when an “internal” email to your members gets published. So, I tend to cut them some slack when it comes to their rhetorical choices. On the other hand, unions should all be aware that there is no such thing as an “internal” email to thousands upon thousands of people.

    What I thought was perhaps the strongest line in the op-ed was this one:

    “Unless pension reform is enacted, there will be no pensions for public employees in the future. Not only that, but vital services will suffer while our credit rating plummets, which means we will have no choice but to build less and put fewer people back on the job. It is the governor’s responsibility to ensure that we preserve pensions so that hard-working employees who have faithfully contributed to the system have access to benefits.”

    I’m not sure I can find anything to disagree with in that statement, and I’m not sure AFSCME does either. If AFSCME agrees, it is a good starting point for negotiations.

  14. - Empty Chair - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:44 am:

    Isn’t it rediculous for some of these commenters to say “these numbers have no credibility, have no basis in reality, etc.” and then offer no competing statistic. If you’re going to cite faulty numbers, prove it yourself. Don’t say “they have no credibility because they didn’t offer supporting statistics. It’s an oped, space is limited. It’s not a term paper with footnotes.

  15. - Rusty618 - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:44 am:

    1. DCFS employees have already been laid.
    2. Quinn has already defied collective bargaining by not honoring the the previous contract.
    3. Quinn’s math is wrong. The 45% pay increase went to his staff…in one raise! Where did that money come from?
    4. Quinn wants to dissolve the current pension that was promised to many long serving, and long paying, state employees to make up for mistakes made by previous administrations.
    5. It is documented that Quinn has given tax breaks to many companies…many in the Commerce Club of Chicago.
    6. The Earned Income Tax Credit does not affect most middle class working families.

  16. - Empty Chair - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:46 am:

    –As a state worker, I really wish I knew where that 45% pay raise went. I sure never saw it. In the last year, my raise had been 0%. I guess Brooke never took a math class–

    Flan, the oped said 8 years, 45%. You said, one year, 0%. Is that really an honest comparison?

  17. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    I Pat Quinn and I APPROVE this message……

  18. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    How much do the governors of the other 49 states make? I am betting that Quinn makes 23% more than the average. Why shouldn’t his employees make the same?

  19. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:52 am:

    - Almost every response fails to address the actual complaint or distorts the truth in an attempt to refute it. -

    What are you talking about? She went through them one by one. If the numbers are wrong, show us the real ones.

    I’m a huge union supporter, but all we get from AFSCME is that they didn’t cause the problems, so they refuse to be part of the solution. That’s a great way for the leaders to keep their members fired up, but it’s not such a great way to actually find a palatable solution.

  20. - Pensions amendment hides true impact - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:53 am:

    It looks like Quinn and Madigan have another trick up their sleeve. Not much is being said about constitution amendment 49. But I think the Sun Times has said it all. If they can get this passed by the voters, the Pension system is done!!!

  21. - Norseman - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 10:56 am:

    Evidently “Empty Chair” hasn’t been reading this blog for very long. We’ve seen a number of stories regarding Quinn playing loose and fast with numbers. With such a track record, I don’t accept any of this administration’s numbers at face value.

  22. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 11:03 am:

    ===It looks like Quinn and Madigan have another trick up their sleeve.===

    That constitutional amendment passed with just two dissenting votes in both chambers combined. And the Sun-Times didn’t say anything. That was an op-ed. And a confusing and poorly written one at that.

  23. - Norseman - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 11:07 am:

    I agree with Rich on the proposed amendment. While one can’t help but suspect some hidden agenda in anything championed by the Speaker, I’ve read and re-read the proposal many times and can’t find that this will overrule the impairment provision. I would like to hear from more expert legal minds before I start getting hysterical.

  24. - Irish - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 11:17 am:

    lincoln lover - From the Sunshine Review - As of 2010, the salary for the governor of Illinois is $177,500 annually.

    And if the Governor wants to compare salaries of peers - The average U.S. governor earns $131,695 per year. Illinois has the second-highest governor salary. The top-paying state is New York, with a governor salary of $179,000. Three other states, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia, pay their governors more than $175,000 per year.

    The governor of Illinois is also entitled to non-monetary benefits as part of his job. The Illinois Executive Mansion is the official home of the governor and is provided for the governor’s use. The governor also receives free transportation, accommodations while away from the mansion, personal security and food and beverages consumed while on official business. The value of non-monetary benefits is not counted in the total salary for the governor.

    Also from the Review - In 2011 Gov. Pat Quinn has handed out raises - some of more than 20 percent - to his staff while proclaiming a message of “shared sacrifice” and planning spending cuts of $1.4 billion because the state is awash in debt.

  25. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 11:24 am:

    –1. DCFS employees have already been laid.–

    Good work if you can get it.

  26. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 11:33 am:

    Thank you, Irish. Now if AFSCME would only include that information in its ads……….

  27. - Crime Fighter - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 11:34 am:

    From one of the Governor’s agency’s Ethics Guide pages 24-25:
    Truthful Oral and Written Statements

    == It is vital to the integrity of state government that all oral and written statements made by state employees, in their official capacities as state employees, are made in what they believe to be
    an honest and truthful manner. This requirement applies to all means of communications and applies to documents, including, but not limited to:
    Time sheets
    Employment or appointment applications
    Statements of economic interests
    State board or commission rulings, orders, decisions, findings, etc.
    Letters, emails, and reports

    Falsification of official documents or untruthful statements made in the conduct of state business are unethical, may violate state policies or law and may subject a state employee to administrative action up to and including fine and/or termination of state service, and in some instances may result in criminal prosecution.==

    Quinn = Phony & Hypocrite

  28. - Ready To Get Out - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    The relationship between AFSCME and the guv is getting real ugly, real fast!

  29. - 332bill - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 11:40 am:

    I don’t know what the previous AFSCME contract had as far as increases, but the just expired contract had a compounded COLA increase of just over 16.2% in 4 years. However, if step increases are included, that rises to 34% over the just completed 4 year contract. Keep in mind though that not everyone gets step increases, only those who are not yet at the top step. So Quinn’s 45% over 8 years is plausible for a limited number of employees, but certainly not for all.

  30. - bartelby - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 12:09 pm:

    How AFSCME can claim that closing Tamms supermax (with just 150 prisoners) will increase overcrowding in a system of nearly 50,000 boggles the mind. That number is about 1/3 the number of men released every day from IDOC prisons! And claims about increased protection from supermax prisons have been disproved in Illinois and every other state they have been studied. This is all about using prisons as a jobs program. If AFSCME dared admit it, they would lose in state courts and the courts of public opinion.

  31. - Dan Bureaucrat - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 12:12 pm:

    Actually the Tamms closure will result in a yearly savings of 26 million per year.

    **RIght now we spend 46 million a year on overtime because so many prisons are chronically understaffed.** The ones being closed are 1/2 or 2/3 empty but are fully staffed. Move the staff where they are needed and save millions in overtime. It is a good plan.

    Hundreds of employees would go to the prisons that everyone is complaining are dangerous because there is not enough staff. It would relieve some of the dangers of overcrowding.

  32. - numbnutz 2 - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 12:15 pm:

    Time to take a strike vote!

  33. - cassandra - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 12:51 pm:

    And I don’t think any DCFS employees have been laid off yet anyway. October 1 was the target date, but I hear it’s been delayed because agency staff did the layoffs incorrectly. Downstate layoffs were especially affected, but I suppose that could delay the whole process.

    Some of the DCFS layoffs were the result of a reorganization by Quinn’s DCFS chief Calica which had the laudable goal of decreasing middle management and also accelerating the privatization of in home protective services (which were already partially privatized) and increasing the number of frontline investigative staff. The case transfers have begun but the delay in layoffs raises the spectre of DCFS caseworkers unoccupied and in limbo because their cases are gone but they can’t move. This could be expensive.

    Meanwhile, the Trib published Fatal Flaws, a rather critical portrait of DCFS’ case handling over the weekends. Seems that not much has improved since the Belleville News-Democrat published Lethal Lapses, a similar series, in 2006.

  34. - geronimo - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 12:56 pm:

    =for a limited number of employees but certainly not for all===

    The drumbeat to convince every taxpayer that every public employees is raping the system is unrelentless.Seems to be the order of the day. I guess if AFSCME wants to play by the rules established by the Civic Committee types and our gov, they need to start taking out full page ads and billboards, reporting that the Governors salary, without benefits is oh, say. 350K? WOuld that do it? I mean, what’s the point of talking if everything said is BS?

  35. - Anonymice - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 1:58 pm:

    ==I’ve read and re-read the proposal many times and can’t find that this will overrule the impairment provision.==

    Because it doesn’t. The author must have been smoking the same stuff Anderson was smoking.

  36. - State Worker 714 - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:15 pm:

    This is absurd! The pay raises were previously negotiated in the contract prior to when Quinn took office-true! But those pay raises are there- making Quinn’s statements that there are no available funds to distribute these raises bill and void as he has already given raises to 8 of 14 agencies and per the judge’s orders from the most recent ruling, the other 6 agencies raises have already been set aside for possible distribution, thus proving this point. Also, some agencies (including mine) are 100% federally funded. This funding includes appropriated pay raises for its employees. For the governor to openly admit that he does not have the money, is to openly admit that he has misappropriated these funds!! Hello!!! Give us what we were promised, it’s that simple. Check the facts!

  37. - State Worker 714 - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 2:32 pm:

    I think the recent public admonishments of Quinn at nearly every of his public events speak for themselves. Quinn and AFSCME are at a stand still and we know what’s coming next– call the strike vote. Let’s send Quinn running again, just as he did at the State Fair.

  38. - Correctional Lt. - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:00 pm:

    bartelby, AWESOME job of siphering out those statistics of inmates being released from prison and how that shows that AFSCME is lying about the overcrowding. Too bad you forgot to mention how many inmates are also coming into the prison system everyday. It would seem as though you may be on Quinns’ payroll as a number cruncher with those 1-sided facts! Just Sayin!!!!

  39. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:28 pm:

    - Let’s send Quinn running again, just as he did at the State Fair. -

    Quinn didn’t do any running at the state fair, he stood up and gave his speech, and he remained on stage the entire time. You folks seem to think screaming in a crowd makes you awful tough.

  40. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 3:58 pm:

    I notice how Mr. Brooke Anderson did not mention current retires. Yes Mr. Anderson, he is trying to screw us !! See you in court.

  41. - Walk in my shoes - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 5:07 pm:

    - AFSCME claims the governor wants to lay-off 4,000 employees. False. Every employee laid off as the result of a closure of a juvenile facility or prison is offered another job within their own agency or other state agencies. The governor believes it is NOT in the interest of taxpayers to keep empty or half-full, very expensive facilities that are no longer needed open at taxpayer expense.

    Just an FYI as this spokesperson has an obvious difficulty with the truth and math. On 02/22/12, when FY2013 Budget was announced, IYC Joliet (listed for closure) had the LARGEST juvenile population of all 8 facilities. In addition, due to a suicide bed prevention project, that facility was almost at capacity. In addition, I would like Brooke Anderson to explain why, if the state must close these empty, half- full expensive facilities, this administration is closing the least expensive (per youth) juvenile facility (FY2013 budget) to operate and currently spending millions of dollars on another facility. These closing were not based on the rhetoric this administrations states. Ms. Anderson, why don’t you explain to this tax payer/voter what really is going on behind the curtain?

  42. - Old timer - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 7:47 pm:

    New IDOT employee gets a 28 percent increase.

  43. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 11:36 pm:

    There is so much spin on that press release Quinn must have hired Bill Clinton as a media consultant.

  44. - Disgruntled 26-year employee - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 3:13 pm:

    What the public doesn’t realize is that if the GA had been paying into the retirement fund all these years like the were supposed to (instead of spending it on ’special interests/projects’), we wouldn’t be in this situation.

    When I have bills to pay, I pay them first. If there is money left over and after I put a little into savings, that is what I have for my ‘ interest/projects’ spending. Didn’t anyone teach the GA the basics on managing money? I wonder if that is how they manage their households too?

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