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The labor beat

Friday, Nov 30, 2012

* From the Illinois Federation of Teachers’ website

Rumor Mill: Lame Duck Lawmakers Could Vote to Remove Workers from Union Rolls in January

For the past couple of years, Governor Quinn has pushed for the legislature to pass legislation ending the hard-fought rights of many state employees to join a union. Quinn’s battle with public employee unions has boiled over in the past few weeks with the governor announcing an end to extensions to collective bargaining agreements during a drawn-out contract negotiations process. But, it seems the governor is rekindling his effort to pass SB1556, which removes potentially thousands of workers from their unions.

The measure impacts hundreds of the IFT public employees who work throughout state government – including the Secretary of State’s office, the Attorney General’s office and other executive-level agencies.

It is rumored that Illinois Senate leaders will put SB1556 up for a vote during the lame duck session in January, before new lawmakers are sworn into office. The IFT is joining our union allies to fight against this anti-worker power grab. Be watchful for more to come on this issue.

* From AFSCME’s website

IEA president Cinda Klickna “called for Gov. Quinn to end his assault on the 40,000 state employees represented by AFSCME”:

    Governor Quinn’s decision to terminate the state’s contract with its largest employee union, AFSCME, is an attack on both the collective bargaining process and on all unionized public employees in Illinois.

    The AFSCME employees provide health services to the sick, the elderly and to children. These hard-working men and women help ensure public safety and enhance the quality of life for all Illinoisans and deserve better than this assault from the state’s chief executive.

    On behalf of the 133,000 IEA members, we urge Governor Quinn to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract with AFSCME.

IFT president Dan Montgomery also “urged Quinn to return to the bargaining table”:

    Governor Quinn’s actions to terminate Illinois’ contract with tens of thousands of unionized state employees is not only offensive to those of us in organized labor, it is also a sign of disrespect for middle class, working families throughout the state.

    The fact is, public service professionals – whether they be teachers, police officers, social workers or correctional officers – dutifully perform their jobs to ensure that government works for the citizens. Discarding the collective bargaining process, especially in the manner that the governor has, is offensive and unnecessary.

    During the Thanksgiving holiday, I urge Governor Quinn to reconsider his decision – a decision that inflicts unnecessary harm to thousands of Illinois workers and their families. Furthermore, I encourage the governor to quickly return to the collective bargaining table with a reasoned set of ideas to finish one of the tasks his job requires – a fair contract for AFSCME and the citizens of Illinois.

The Chicago Teachers Union has issued the following statement in support of AFSCME members in state government:

    The Chicago Teachers Union stands in solidarity with AFSCME Council 31 in its effort to bargain a fair contract. Although Governor Quinn has recently supported Chicago teachers in opposing the overemphasis on standardized tests in our classrooms and the proliferation of non-union charter schools, we cannot abide his treatment of our brothers and sisters in AFSCME.

    The Governor’s unprecedented action to terminate its contract with AFSCME was unnecessary and damaging to the bargaining process. We encourage Governor Quinn to avoid the potential disruption that termination might bring, reinstitute the current agreement, get back to the table and come to a fair settlement.

* Sun-Times

Two of organized labor’s biggest guns in Illinois took aim at Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday, calling on him to rescind his decision to terminate the contract that applies to about 40,000 state employees.

“We cannot understand why our governor, who has stood with organized labor in the past, would be so eager to undermine our brothers and sisters,” said Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Ramirez was joined in calling out Quinn by Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan.

“State employees are on the frontlines every day preserving public safety, safeguarding children and assisting families, caring for aging veterans, responding to disasters, and protecting our environment,” Carrigan said in a prepared statement.

“Gov. Quinn’s effort to undermine their collective bargaining rights is unwarranted and virtually unprecedented in Illinois government,” Carrigan said.

* And the Sun-Times editorialized on the matter

AFSCME argues that state workers aren’t to blame for the state’s fiscal woes, that long-term answers lie in a more fair and progressive tax structure. We don’t disagree. But there is a budget crisis that must be dealt with today.

We agree with AFSCME that Quinn’s office should lay off portraying state workers as overpaid compared to those in other states. If the comparison bears out, it’s something to be proud of — that Illinois historically has treated its public workers well.

The real question is whether Illinois can continue that tradition. Sadly, the answer today is no.

* Other stuff…

* CTU rips charters: ‘privatization schemes masquerading as education policy’

* Hinz: Teachers union charges CPS with ‘educational apartheid’

* Emanuel’s Birthday Gift: A Protest Outside His Home - O’Hare employees say new contractor doesn’t pay a living wage

* Owner of firm with O’Hare deal has links to reputed mob figure

* Ken Griffin buyer of Chicago’s most expensive condo

- Posted by Rich Miller        

39 Comments
  1. - nobody - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:22 pm:

    Here’s a suggestion for a Friday song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSd8ZT2hGSE&FEATURE=RELMFU


  2. - Norseman - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:24 pm:

    I’d say this is further impetus for AFSCME to initiate their first strike. Otherwise, the folks in the trenches will wonder what they’re paying dues for, especially the newly unionized management class.


  3. - M Smith - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:29 pm:

    There has been thousands added to the union since Blago became governor who don’t belong with those in the trenches. Engineers, accountants, and executive level people to name a few. They were getting screwed as merit comp so I understand but it doesn’t make it better to pay someone making $90 K plus in an office time & a half etc.


  4. - truthteller - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:29 pm:

    Quinn and Emanuel must be competing to prove to their corporate cronies that they are the most hostile to working families. It’s a close contest


  5. - Norseman - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:40 pm:

    ===There has been thousands added to the union since Blago became governor who don’t belong with those in the trenches. Engineers, accountants, and executive level people to name a few. They were getting screwed as merit comp so I understand but it doesn’t make it better to pay someone making $90 K plus in an office time & a half etc.===

    It’s exactly because “they were screwed” that they belong in the trenches. If the Governor can’t treat MC employees fairly, don’t be surprised if those employees seek some help.


  6. - 47th Ward - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:41 pm:

    ===Rumor Mill: Lame Duck Lawmakers Could Vote to Remove Workers from Union Rolls in January===

    Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.


  7. - Demoralized - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:42 pm:

    I completely understand the desire of all to get in the union. When you don’t receive raises for years it gets to be a complete morale buster. However, the workers they are looking to remove from the union should never have been unionized to begin with (at least a large portion of them). You can’t have an all union workforce. You need somebody to manage them who isn’t tied to the union in any way.


  8. - RogersParker - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:47 pm:

    Mayor Emanuel is simply cost-shifting to “save” the City of Chicago a couple of bucks. He destroys 300 decent paying, middle class jobs with benefits and replaces them with low paying jobs with no benefits. Many of the replacement jobs will pay so little that the workers will actually qualify for some type of federal or state assiatance.Is this really the leadersip we want for the City of Chicago or the Democratic Party?


  9. - M Smith - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    Go to sj-r.com avg state salaries per Dept - DOC = $84K, DHS is over $60K, IDOT is $48K but that includes part time. The Governor stinks but he is right on trying to do something. These will increase significantly in the future if something is not done.


  10. - Newsclown - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    You know, an all-union one-day strike demonstration would really be something to see. But I have to wonder, as the gov is probably wondering: how tight would the unions stick together, and for how long? Blago had an active strategy of courting SEIU to put a rift between them and AFSCME. If the unions could show true solidarity in this state, they might run the table, at least for a time.


  11. - Ready To Get Out - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:56 pm:

    M Smith…and I’ll bet those number$ include a lot of overtime!


  12. - Secret Square - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:58 pm:

    M. Smith, “average” does not necessarily mean “typical of the majority.” An average can be thrown off by including just a few outliers on either end. The “average” salary at DHS may be over $60K but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is typical of everyone who works there makes. It could simply mean (for example, not based on specific knowledge) that they have department heads, assistants, etc. making six figures while everyone else makes $30-$40K or so.


  13. - RNUG - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:00 pm:

    M Smith,

    One of the criteria for not being in the union is being in a management position. There are darn few Public Service Administrator’s (PSA’s) that have the authority to actually hire, fire or even seriously disipline the people under them. Heck, I used to know a lot of Senior Public Service Administrators that didn’t even have that kind of authority. Without that authority, all they are is glorified supervisors / assistant managers.

    If you’re not going to give PSA’s the authority to actually manage, you can’t turn and keep them out of the unions by claiming they are managers.


  14. - Ready To Get Out - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:01 pm:

    M Smith….also, I know of quite a few people you can pull up at CMS and their salaries look high. In some cases, 50%+ of that salary showing up is mandatory overtime. I’m sure you can find the same thing at DOC, maybe more so.


  15. - Anonymice - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:07 pm:

    ==If you’re not going to give PSA’s the authority to actually manage, you can’t turn and keep them out of the unions by claiming they are managers. ==

    Actually, they can and they do.


  16. - wordslinger - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:07 pm:

    –An Emanuel administration spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times late Thursday, “The city has no reason to believe that there is any wrongdoing with United Maintenance or its owner. However, if material issues arise, the city would take appropriate action to protect its interests.”–

    That’s an incredible statement. How can you possibly traffic in such ridiculous lies? Everyone knows the Richard Simon/United Maintenance story.

    Here’s some help. Try the google. Start with keywords Richard Simon, Bill Hogan, Ben Stein, Teamsters, Murder….

    That will get you started. Happy surfing.


  17. - Ready To Get Out - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:09 pm:

    RNUG is correct. I have also seen the same thing. I know of one person who was promoted up to a PSA in title only because there was no path for advancement. This person has no authority, makes no decisions and does not manage anyone. That person was taken into AFSCME two years ago. Received their first pay increase in six years!

    If these people had been taken care of, even in the smallest way, we probably wouldn’t be talking about this.


  18. - Bill - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:09 pm:

    M Smith,
    You obviously have no idea what those employees have to do to earn those mediocre, at best, salaries. Try spending an hour or two keeping order at a state prison before commenting on the value of other people’s labor. NO CONTRACT-NO WORK!


  19. - RNUG - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:17 pm:

    M Smith,

    You do realize that DHS requires a college degree for most of those positions? That IDOT has a lot of engineers to drive up the average even though there are also part-time people? That if you’re going to compare IDOC, it should be with law enforcement staff?

    The state workforce isn’t what it used to be 30 or 40 years ago. A lot of state job position descriptions were re-written over the past 15 - 20 years to require specific college degrees. That’s good because it gets the state a more professional workforce. But those college grads don’t work for the same salary you used to pay to a high school grad.


  20. - RNUG - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:18 pm:

    Anonymice @ 2:07 pm

    and that’s not fair …


  21. - Sgt Schultz - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:41 pm:

    The merit comp employees who have stayed with the state for many years without an increase is, for ONE reason, because they “knew” after 20 years of service, they would have free insurance. The longevity of State workers, I suspect, is greater than the private sector. To keep quality people, you must pay them a good salary and/or provide good benefits. The exodous to the private sector is forthcoming. Assuming the jobs are there. And perhaps that’s what it’s all about right now - stick it to them while they have no where else to go.


  22. - M Smith - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:45 pm:

    I should clarify: salaries have gone up way ahead of inflation. It is not sustainable in the future. Sure - many are professional & should be well paid & some were underpaid. It does not change the reality of a state reeling in debt and about as able to make cuts as the feds.


  23. - cassandra - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:09 pm:

    Well, we could, for example, reduce the costs, including personnel costs, of DOC by putting fewer offenders, especially non-violent ones, in jail, but I guess that isn’t in the cards right now. And RNUG is right–many in state management titles have virtually no formal management authority-to hire, to fire, to issue more than the lowest level discipline (an oral reprimand), and so forth. How did we get into this pickle? I don’t know. But I don’t think we’ll be able to get out of it by passing this law. Suddenly all these psa managers are going to be able to fire people? Please.

    Feels like more foot-stomping to me, anyway. It’s what we’re supposed to remember when the Dems raise taxes again after “having” to approve a hefty increase in state of Illinois personnel costs. It wasn’t (insert governor, legislator, Repub, Dem)their fault. They tried.


  24. - Anonymice - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:09 pm:

    ==Sure - many are professional & should be well paid & some were underpaid. It does not change the reality of a state reeling in debt and about as able to make cuts as the feds. ==

    And that does not change the reality that you get what you pay for. If you’re going to freeze all pay on the grounds that unionized janitors and other unskilled positions are overpaid, you won’t lose any of those overpaid janitors but you will lose the professionals whose pay has not kept up with inflation for 10 years. Even with a lousy collective bargaining agreement on the horizon, the people SB 1556 is aimed at fear and resent it because they joined the union (or have petitions to do so) because they were not treated fairly. Kick them out of the union, and you’ll never get competent replacements when they eventually leave.


  25. - Professor - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:11 pm:

    Universities retain faculty based on the benefits, certainly not the salaries.


  26. - dupage dan - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:24 pm:

    Bill, is it safe to assume you are an employee of some state agency? Will you go walk the line with a sign?

    I have heard so much from so many state employees here that they are basically living from paycheck to paycheck. How, then, can they afford to go out on strike?

    As a state employee myself, I see a chasm opening up in front of us. I don’t think a strike will bridge that chasm. I worry that AFSCME will remain intransigent and drive us into the chasm.

    I do find it humurous that many here demonzied Wisc gov Walker and his activities and supported Quinn until he turned his back on the rank and file. I bet Quinn gets re-elected to boot.


  27. - Anonymous - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:32 pm:

    Comptroller’s website – Average salaries (2011 data)
    SPSA’s - $79,798
    PSA’s - $81,443
    Admin. Asst’s - $59,419
    Average employee salary -$41,432

    Unions have no place in office environments. We don’t do widgets or anything quantifiable that you can base productivity on. So what you end up with is a bunch of entitled employee’s that feel they deserve a raise because they have been on the job for another year. In the private sector you either continue to advance or you top out on salary in a very short amount of time. The employees in this state have priced themselves out of the market and I would like to see them try to find a job that matched their skill set that pays anything near what they are earning now. As far as the “we have a contract and the State broke it”, the State breaks contracts by the thousands by not paying vendors within the timeframe they agreed upon. And while I’m on my high horse, if the Union would only police itself and get rid of the truly worthless members, that they want just for the sake of headcount, then there would be more money and benefits to go around.


  28. - RNUG - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:42 pm:

    cassandra said: “How did we get into this pickle? I don’t know.”

    As a retired SPSA from right below the politically appointed layer, I could detail exactly how it all happened from about 1972 on … but rather than take that much space, the simple explanation is the politically appointed crooks at the top thought everyone else under them was a crook except themselves, so they did everything they could to concentrate the actual management power at the very tip top. Or you could say it was about patronage.


  29. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:45 pm:

    I like the tone of the Sun Times editorial. I think that it’s much fairer to workers than what I used to read in the Tribune. I support the progressive tax and appreciate the respect. I also care about the Illinois budget and would like to do what I can to help fix it. This is an all hands on deck moment for Illinois.


  30. - Pookie - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:52 pm:

    M Smith,
    I’m not sure where you’re getting your figures or if you just have a lot of typos. I went to the SJR website and it says the average salary for DOC is $64,000. Not the $84,000 you stated. You said that DHS is over $60,000, but the actual amount is $57,042. The only figure you got correct was for IDOT and you tried to explain that one away.


  31. - RNUG - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:57 pm:

    re myself @ 3:42,

    Maybe I should have just said ‘hacks’ rather than ‘crooks’ because, like everywhere, there were a few who actually tried to do the right thing … one the good ones comments here on a regular basis


  32. - Bill - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:59 pm:

    DD,
    No I don’t for the state but I sympathize with public employees who do the actual work of the people.Yes, strikes are hard and usually no one really wins but sometimes they are unavoidable. This is one of those times. The State is not bargaining in good faith. Let’s see what happens if the work stops. Maybe they’ll appreciate their hard working dedicated public servants when they are gone.


  33. - M Smith - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 4:10 pm:

    Pook- see anon up there - did a better job of making my point- I was a bit off on DHS but was going by a quick scan & memory - 84 was ISP not DOC. Stand corrected but I did source so you could check & the figures are still high & yes IDOT has many seasonal workers that skews it. They are paid higher. (teamsters mainly htere).


  34. - quincy - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 4:13 pm:

    Pat Quinn And Scott Walker much be sleeping in the same bed. But come election time Pat baby will want that union support and say how great they are. Please Run Daley or L.M


  35. - quincy - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 4:15 pm:

    Thats Big Bill Daley.


  36. - AFSCME Steward - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 4:19 pm:

    M Smith:

    Are you actually saying the reason the state is in debt is because of employee salaries ????? If you layed off every single state employee the state would still be in hock up to its eyeballs.

    “I should clarify: salaries have gone up way ahead of inflation. It is not sustainable in the future. Sure - many are professional & should be well paid & some were underpaid. It does not change the reality of a state reeling in debt and about as able to make cuts as the feds”


  37. - Maxine on Politics - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 4:26 pm:

    M Smith you have no idea what you are talking about. http://www.ilreference.com/employees/agencies/Department_Of_Human_Services

    At DHS you can wade through the $300,000 $200,000, 100,000 employees that are not in the union and tell me, the front line worker, that we are paid to much. How about the increases for the Governor’s office and Agency heads, not to mention we pay for their transportation, hotels, and other ementities that are questionable just because the job is in SPRINGFIELD, not Chicago! You need to do better research my boy? DOT/ISP have higher incidents of death due to their jobs. Geez would love to meet some of the posters eye to eye on here.


  38. - Makandadawg - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 4:29 pm:

    Collective bargaining rights belong to the individuals. Not to the bosses and politicians. It does not matter where you work or what you do. If you want to organize and negotiate everyone should have that right.


  39. - dupage dan - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 4:35 pm:

    Nice of you to offer our services, Bill. From your post it sounds like you have never been in a union. Is that true?

    For purposes of transparency, I have been a member of 4 unions. Boilermakers, Aerospace and Machinists, Sheet Metal Workers and AFSCME. Never went on strike with either union. Actually found the union to have little long term benefit for workers. Found some to be “in bed” w/management. Found them to be more self-absorbed than self-sacrificing for the rank and file.

    Thanks for your “support” tho. It was touching.


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