Work rules can no longer trump union workers in Illinois

July 18, 2011

 Illinois has a vast bureaucracy which requires many unionized government workers. 

Every dollar paid to a public employee must come from a local, state, or federal taxpayer.  There is a large number of these unionized workers in Illinois whose livelihoods depend entirely upon the capacity of profit-earning people to pay ever increasing taxes. 

There is no question that Gov. Pat Quinn is right to try to kill promised pay raises for about 30,000 state employees, as it is state worker union leadership which is driving Illinois off the cliff.  To add to the problem, Illinois, unlike many most states, is continuing to increase its union membership.

Even Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanual is taking the common sense approach when on Friday, July 14 he announced that layoff notices would go out to as many as 625 city workers.  Following Mayor Emanual’s announcement, Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said that he was “perplexed” by Emanuel’s move,

Home to the most severe state pension crisis in our nation, the Illinois state legislature voted to enact the third highest combined (state, federal, local) income tax in the industrialized world as a way to increase the revenue.  Sixty-seven percent on individuals and forty-six percent on employees.  Even with this massive tax increase, Illinois still faces a $14 billion budget shortfall next year. 

And what about the guaranteed right of public employees in Illinois to receive pension, cost-of-living increases, health care benefits, etc.  Often mentioned are the guarantees outlined in the 1970 Constitution.  These same people don’t mention that many of the increases in the benefits of union employees occurred after the Constitution was ratified in 1970. 

The following perks negotiated since 1970 would go a long way to reduce the state’s staggering unfunded liabilities.  How likely would it be that union leaders who insist that the 1970 Constitution be honored agree to accepting the 1970 commitments?

1.  Pension maximum raised for 60 to 75 percent in 1971.

2.  Annual cost-of-living increase raised 33 percent from 1.5 percent to 2 percent in 197l.

3.  85 sick days (1/2 year service ) allowed for early retirement in 197

4.  Cost-of-living increase raised 50 percent more from 2 percent to 3 percent in 1978.

5.  Sick-leave credit doubled from 85 days to 170 in 1984.6.  Retiree health care premiums 75 percent subsidy in 1991. 

Public sector union reform is desperately needed in Illinois.  Unions like the the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) say they are standing up for democracy.  In reality what they are practicing is “thugocracy” in overruling the will of the people in Illinois, thereby coercing  even more taxpayer dollars to fund their cushy benefits and pensions. 

If you wonder why your property values are going down but property taxes are going up, it is because government spending is inexorably going up.  And what is the biggest chunk of government spending?  It is for salaries, pensions and health care for current and retired workers. 

If taxpayers have to pay more, the pain needs to shared by the state’s public employees, to.   Workers in private industry have had to accept reality (common sense approaches) as companies, especially small business owners, have had to trim their expenses in order to survive. 


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