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Unions deny they’re withholding support from Pritzker to pry something from him

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* A look at the influence of labor unions in the governor’s race by ICPR

Democratic candidate JB Pritzker is currently leading the field of gubernatorial candidates as measured by union endorsements. The self-funded Democrat has secured endorsements ranging from small local councils to large, statewide unions, including the 900,000-member Illinois AFL-CIO. All told, Pritzker has received 17 endorsements from unions collectively representing over 1.1 million members.

As endorsements have come out over the last few months, some argued that unions backed Pritzker early because of his personal wealth and promise to self-fund his campaign, which would allow unions to spend more money supporting labor-friendly candidates in General Assembly races across the state.

Kent Redfield, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois - Springfield, agrees with this assessment, ascribing many of these early endorsements to financial priorities. Redfield said that instead of focusing on policy differences between candidates, “union money is going to be much more concerned about whether they have to spend on the governor’s race, and on keeping a Democratic majority” in the General Assembly. Redfield noted that unions spent over $30 million on Governor Pat Quinn’s campaign in 2014, and would prefer to spend that money on down-ballot races in 2018.

Notably, some large labor groups have refrained from endorsing a candidate this early into the race. Such organizations include AFSCME Council 31, SEIU, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. […]

[Wayne Steger, Professor of Political Science at DePaul University] believes that state employee and teacher’s unions, like SEIU, IFT, and AFSCME, “are withholding their endorsement because they are trying to get stronger commitments from JB [Pritzker].” Steger points out, “it’s a risk, because if they wait and Pritzker takes a big lead in the polls, they are coming late to the game.” However, if the polls are looking close for Pritzker, key endorsements before the Primary could give Pritzker the edge he needs to win, elevating the clout of the unions.

There’s more, including the Sen. Sam McCann angle, so go read the rest.

* But I wanted to give a couple of those public employee unions a chance to respond. Here’s Anders Lindall from AFSCME Council 31…

AFSCME endorsements are the culmination of a grassroots process in which union members throughout the state examine the records, priorities and viability of the candidates in any given race. With respect to the 2018 primaries, that process is now in its early stages and will conclude at a statewide conference in January. If ICPR or the professor had contacted us before publishing this piece, we would’ve been happy to share that our actions to date reflect our process, not our judgment about any candidate.

* And here’s Aviva Bowen from the Illinois Federation of Teachers…

We’re not withholding anything. Our members drive the endorsement process, and they have only just started learning about the candidates and their visions for the future of Illinois. All we know for certain right now is that Bruce Rauner is committed to crisis, and we will do everything we can to stop him from hurting working people any further.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Robert the Bruce - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:10 pm:

    ===If ICPR or the professor had contacted us before publishing this piece===
    Sloppy by ICPR.

  2. - Ginhouse Tommy - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:31 pm:

    It is awful early to endorse anyone since the primary has really pickup steam yet and Priztker might not even be the nominee. Calm down people and let it play itself out.

  3. - Nikolas Name - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:38 pm:

    What does Kennedy bring to the table besides name?

  4. - Evanstonian - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    I hope they’re withholding support because it’s a terrible idea to elect a billionaire.

  5. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    ==- Nikolas Name - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:38 pm:==

    Managing the Merchandise Mart.

  6. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    I mean, if anything, most unions are getting heat for endorsing *too soon*, so this seems like an odd accusation.

  7. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    I can from the front rank local level confirm exactly what Anders said. We go through a rigorous democratic process at the local level to assess and endorse local/state candidates. Come on people, it actually is Council 31 listening too and following the democratically derived wishes of the front ranker.
    (That being said, I can only attest to this for local and state candidates. I’m still sore about the early HRC endorsement nationally)

    Do I know something about our tactics? No. I’m just a front ranker. But I do know we’ve got a pretty strict democratic process that we follow. I know because I’m involved in that for my local. Steger is speculating. Look, I’ve got supporters of every candidate including Rauner in my local.

    I’ll vouch for the process. Anders isn’t lying, obfuscating or engaging in perfidy.

    Front rank driven anything is slow and messy. Any steward will confirm that. Think about how hard we had to work to pull of that strike authorization vote. Organizing is hard hard work. Unlike Rauners decisions which are made instantly, effecting thousands, for the benefit of a few privileged wealthy. It’s fast and decisive but also dictatorial.

  8. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    SEIU’s silence is interesting. Their former lead statehouse lobbyist left to run the failed Biss for Comptroller campaign. After that fiasco, he’s back as a consultant for them. He personally stumps heavily for Biss.

    With Biss’ low single digit numbers in any poll we’ve seen, and the mountain of dollars SEIU would undoubtedly have to invest to drag him across the finish line against Rauner in a general, I would imagine their is some internal conflict there.

    Did you reach out to them, Rich? I’d be interested to see what they say.

  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:54 pm:

    gah, ‘there’ not ‘their’…typing too fast and half paying attention. what an ugly error.

  10. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:56 pm:

    ==With Biss’ low single digit numbers in any poll we’ve seen==

    Isn’t that like, one poll?

    I don’t think it’s his polling, I think it’s his pension bill.

  11. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    ===Did you reach out to them, Rich?===

    No. One reason is there are a couple of big locals and I’m not sure which one the professor was referring to.

  12. - Texas Red - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:14 pm:

    AFSCME may be waiting till the Janus ruling.A SCOTUS ruling against government employees being forced to pay dues and fees to government unions would be a game changer. They may be keeping their powder dry till the ruling is out.

  13. - Anonymiss - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    >I’m not sure which one the professor was referring to.

    I’m not sure he was either, lol. Goofy story from ICPR. “Let’s ask an academic about why unions are doing something without going to the source.”

  14. - Sue - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:26 pm:

    We all know nothing that either AFSCME or the IFT wants is going to be in the interests of taxpayers so if Pritzker wants to demonstrate some independence he should forego endorsements from any public sector union

  15. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    ===…be in the interests of taxpayers…===

    Who isn’t a taxpayer.

    Be very specific.

  16. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    ==We all know nothing that either AFSCME or the IFT wants is going to be in the interests of taxpayers==

    AFSCME and IFT members pay taxes.

  17. - Sue - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    That’s the same lame excuse you guys always use - union members pay taxes. Yea and the public sector unions have more or less single handefly bankrupted the rest of the State

  18. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    But, but, but… - Sue -

    Who is not a taxpayer?

    Is it lame you can’t name one, or…

  19. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:41 pm:

    Maybe because they are all waiting to see what Sweeny comes up with if he is successful. He might be trying to find a republican that is popular or acceptable to unions. Why get involved now when you can wait till it all plays out.

  20. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:45 pm:

    =Who is not a taxpayer?=

    An income-tax payer? I’ll take “who is a politically connected, special-interest, retired state-employee for $200.”

  21. - Redraider - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:48 pm:

    And for the doubly jeopardy round I will take the 2/3’s of corporations that pay no state taxes in Illinois for 800

  22. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:49 pm:

    ===who is a politically connected, special-interest, retired state-employee for $200.”===

    Since all retirement income isn’t taxes here in Illinois, your utter ignorance traipsingvariant as thoughtful snark is noted.

    Good thing sales tax isn’t a tax… lol

  23. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:53 pm:

    You used to be more fun Willy. I was obviously joking. You seem needlessly hostile towards me anymore.

  24. - Sue - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:01 pm:

    The Os is in a bad mental state because he doesn’t have the votes to override- cut him some. Lack

  25. - The Professor - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    I think we can all agree that “Professor” Steger basically made this up. Who is this guy? Looking at his CV there is nothing to suggest he has any actual knowledge of local politics or any access to these unions, their leaders, or their way of thinking. drives me crazy when reporters quote professors who will basically say anything to get quoted. Redfield is a fixture in local politics and assessment. This Steger is a joke.

  26. - ste_with_a_v_en - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:54 pm:

    “Since all retirement income isn’t taxes here in Illinois, your utter ignorance traipsingvariant as thoughtful snark is noted.”
    So would they support ending the exemption on retirement income?

  27. - Almost The Weekend - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:57 pm:

    I’ve always envisioned the AFSCME endorsement process something like the seven kingdoms on Game of Thrones. All fighting for rule of the seven kingdoms, while the white walkers (Rauner) are coming to destroy them all.

  28. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    ==That’s the same lame excuse you guys always use - union members pay taxes.==

    Because it’s always true.

  29. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 4:10 pm:

    ===This Steger is a joke.===

    Well, uh, that’s just like, your opinion, man.

    You sound like one of his students who got a C- from him who then trashed him in the evaluation survey. Lol, happens all the time. He’s been called worse, I’m sure, by people a lot smarter than an anonymous blog commenter.

  30. - sulla - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 4:26 pm:


    Fun fact: 93.91% of Illinois taxpayers do not derive a paycheck from a public-sector union.

    Even more fun fact: 99.42% of Illinois taxpayers are not members of AFSCME.

    Source:, BLS & AFSCME

  31. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 4:49 pm:


    Public employees. Private employees. They’ve got at least one thing in common and that is payment of income taxes.

    And blaming union state employees for the ills of the state? What a load of garbage.

  32. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 4:51 pm:


    Union members do pay taxes. I have no idea what your game is with the stats.

  33. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 7:15 pm:

    == I’ll take “who is a politically connected, special-interest, retired state-employee for $200.” ==

    Just to pile on (even though you say this was snark) - AFSCME does not represent state retirees.

  34. - Mama - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 9:00 pm:

    “AFSCME does not represent state retirees. ”

    AFSCME’s Retirees Union will be surprised to hear that one.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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