The following was written by Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Council 31, in response to the op-ed posted on Progress Illinois yesterday from Gov. Pat Quinn's office.
Sadly, there they go again. Governor Pat Quinn and his staff
routinely twist reality, mislead the public and insult the men and women
who do the real work of state government in their communities every
Endlessly repeating lies does not make them true. Yet the
1200 words of empty political talking points issued yesterday by a Quinn
spokeswoman are riddled with repeated falsehoods and glaring omissions.
deliberately understates the danger posed by his litigious assault on
workers’ right to collective bargaining and his long-running refusal to
honor union contracts.The governor has broken his contracts
with several unions representing state employees, refusing to honor
workers’ fairly bargained pay schedules to which he himself had agreed.
In a strongly worded award siding with workers, an independent
arbitrator found that if the governor gets his way, “the collective
bargaining process will be severely undermined.” Rather than complying
with the arbitrator’s order, Quinn has provoked an ongoing court battle.
echoes Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan talking points on health care and
retirement security, arguing to slash the modest pensions earned by
public employees and excusing his devastating $2 billion cuts to
Medicaid—that eliminated prescription drug help for seniors and took
health insurance from thousands of working families—in order to
“preserve” these programs, just as Romney and Ryan seek to privatize
Social Security and voucherize Medicare on similar grounds. The
people understand that the governor’s “forced choice” pension scheme in
unfair and unconstitutional, causing retirees to either lose their
health insurance or tens of thousands of dollars in pension benefits
that enable seniors to keep up with rising costs for food and medicine.
time and again minimizes the damage of his threat to lay off some 4,000
disability and mental health caregivers, child protection workers,
correctional officers, state police dispatchers and other state
employees. He callously claims credit for the job protection
provisions guaranteed by the union contract—but is utterly silent on the
human consequences of slashing their essential work to protect public
safety, prevent child abuse and care for the most vulnerable. He cries
poverty but ignores the fact that the General Assembly fully funded
nearly all the services and jobs he’s trying to cut. And as for the
claim that alternative employment has been offered to every state worker
whose job is threatened, it is simply false.
state-employee pay claims are patently false and wholly misleading. The
net general increases received by most union members over the past 8
years equal just 23.25%--less than 3% per year. (Math: Gross
increase 32.5% less 4% additional employee pension contribution and
5.25% withheld by Quinn.) Just 2 in 5 state employees are eligible for
additional pay that rewards experience and encourages stability in the
state workforce, and only a miniscule number could have been eligible
for the sort of increases the administration claims all workers
received. Meanwhile, Quinn pretends to forget the hundreds of millions
of dollars these employees saved state taxpayers via pay deferrals,
unpaid furlough days, health plan changes and innovative efficiencies,
and never mentions that many do the jobs of two or three workers, since
Illinois has the nation’s fewest state employees per capita.
- Quinn ignores the reality of the state’s dangerously overcrowded prisons—built
to safely hold just 33,000 inmates but now overflowing with an all-time
high of more than 49,000—instead incredibly claiming the seven
facilities threatened with closure are “empty,” “half full” and “no
- Quinn twists his record on
corporate tax loopholes by emphasizing what he failed to do and failing
to mention what he actually did. Seeking accolades for his
feeble support for closing a loophole that allows big oil companies to
hide profits on offshore drilling platforms—a loophole that was never
actually closed--Quinn neglects to mention his cheerleading role in tax
giveaways to profitable corporations like Sears, Boeing, Motorola and
the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. They pocketed hundreds of millions of
taxpayer dollars with his support, then he cut health care for the
elderly and disabled.
In each case, the administration’s
playbook is the same: Dehumanize public service workers. Devalue the
services they provide. And say anything to drown out or discredit them,
regardless of the relationship of Quinn’s claims to the truth.