* The governor went hard after AFSCME yesterday…
One of our biggest taxpayer protection initiatives is to take on the compensation costs of our state government. Most of our state employees are terrific, hardworking public servants. They deserve to be well paid, and receive higher compensation in the future. But it should be based in part upon higher productivity, and shared benefits in taxpayer savings, rather than just seniority.
Unfortunately, the compensation demands being made by AFSCME leaders are out-of-touch with reality. Adjusted for the cost of living, we already have the highest paid state employees in America. Undeterred and unashamed, AFSCME is demanding $3 billion more in overall compensation. That $3 billion should go into our schools and human services, not into government bureaucracy.
Our state employees are paid almost 30% more than Illinois taxpayers are in their own jobs for the same work. That is just not fair – and it’s time we restore balance between taxpayers and state government.
It’s not just the eye-popping price tag on these easy-to-see costs that’s hurting us, taxpayers are also losing from the hidden costs of work rules buried in previous contracts.
Because of these work rules, state government has seen AFSCME file grievances against volunteer campground hosts for educating visitors about a state park; against volunteers at a Veterans home who answered calls in the reception area; against a supervisor who pitched in to eliminate a backlog of tax returns. That’s not right.
And unfair work rules have allowed state workers to manipulate overtime policies to boost their pay, costing taxpayers tens of millions.
We’ve paid $22 million in overtime for the 15-minute roll call that occurs at the beginning of shifts. Our former Auditor General also highlighted, as ripe for abuse, the practice of so-called shift-swapping, where workers use sick time for a regular shift, but then get paid overtime to work a later shift that same day.
We need to install common-sense into our union contracts!
Some of the union’s grievances are pretty silly. And while I think corrections workers ought to get paid for attending a roll call (it’s part of the job, after all), paying them overtime for it seems a bit much.
* AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch rebutted some, but not all of the governor’s arguments…
“Once again, Gov. Rauner falsely attacked public-service workers in state government and mischaracterized our union contract negotiations.
“The state employees Governor Rauner is obsessed with attacking keep communities safe, protect kids, care for veterans and more. Like all working people, they deserve affordable health care and wages that sustain a family, but the governor is trying to double their health care costs while freezing their pay for four years.
“His claims about state employee compensation and our union’s proposals at the bargaining table are simply false.
“AFSCME has consistently sought to find common ground, but the governor relentlessly seeks conflict. The people of Illinois need stability and solutions, but the governor has terminated contract negotiations and walked away from the table, trying to force confrontation and disruption.
“It’s past time for Governor Rauner to stop making blatantly false claims, return to bargaining and work with us to reach an agreement that is fair to all.”