We got some very good news today! As you know, in his unrelenting efforts to impose his harsh terms on state employees, Governor Rauner had asked the Illinois Supreme Court to lift the stay issued by the Fourth District Appellate Court which is blocking imposition of those terms. The governor also requested that the Supreme Court allow for direct appeal of AFSCME’s challenge to the Labor Board’s impasse ruling, seeking to bypass the appellate court altogether.

Today we received notice that the Supreme Court has denied Governor Rauner’s motion! This means that our appeal will be heard in the Fourth District Appellate Court as scheduled, and that the stay will remain in effect throughout the Appellate Court appeal process, barring Rauner from imposing any of his terms on employees during that time.

This ruling demonstrates that yet another independent judicial body (as opposed to the Rauner-appointed Labor Board) has rejected the governor’s flimsy and far-fetched claims regarding the state contract dispute.

In the press and even in briefs to the courts, Rauner makes the preposterous assertions that AFSCME’s wage proposal would cost taxpayers $3 billion or that the union’s failure to capitulate to his terms costs taxpayers $2 million a day. Anyone with even minimal math skills can see the absurdity of such claims. But the truth is not on Rauner’s side, so he doesn’t hesitate to rely on falsehoods.

He’s back to charging that Illinois state employees are the highest-paid in the country, an allegation we’ve debunked numerous times. Yes, state employees are among the highest-paid compared to other state employees, but private-sector workers in Illinois are among the highest-paid compared to other states as well.

In other words, Illinois is a higher-wage state, which traditionally has been very good for the Illinois economy. But Governor Rauner is driving our state’s economy into the ground with his refusal to allow passage of a state budget.

It’s worth noting that even as Rauner portrays front line state workers as being overpaid, he bemoans the fact that state salaries aren’t high enough to attract “quality” people to government. What he means, of course, is that even after raising the salaries of his inner circle by 25 to 30%, he can’t find anybody who wants to work for him. Turnover among the upper echelon in his administration is extraordinarily high.

Rauner’s false claims are rooted in his obsession with driving down the income of middle-class workers and eliminating unions from the picture entirely. His various machinations in our state contract battle—where he’s represented by a high-priced private law firm paid with taxpayer dollars—have turned the normally straightforward collective bargaining process into nonstop warfare, leading to the first-ever strike vote in state government.

Rauner’s now trying to “turn around” his dismal approval ratings with a massive TV ad campaign full of half-truths told by a billionaire pretending to be a regular guy. He urges viewers to help him by visiting a special web site—and when you go there you find that one of his top three priorities is attacking AFSCME members in state government!

It’s clear that Rauner intends to make his dishonest and demoralizing attacks on state employees a centerpiece of the re-election campaign he’s now launching. That’s why we’re organizing to “greet” him at appearances across the state, making sure that our communities know that we’re out there every day doing our jobs for the people of Illinois—and it’s time for him to start doing the same. Watch for information on a Rauner “greeting” near you and get involved!

Whether you are a mental health technician who almost lost her baby’s desperately needed oxygen supply, a long-serving human services caseworker who isn’t getting his hard-earned longevity pay, a correctional health care employee who’s threatened with privatization, or any of the thousands of state employees fearing huge health care cost increases, you know only too well the extent to which Bruce Rauner has destabilized and demoralized state government, making it much more difficult to do your job every day.

Yet through it all, you have continued to do your job, striving to do your best under these difficult circumstances. And through it all, we as union members have stayed together and stayed determined— to preserve our rights, protect our families, and shape our own future. If we continue to hold to our commitments—to public service, to our union, and to each other, we can come through this dark era to a much brighter day.

In unity,

Roberta Lynch
Executive Director

Courtesy of AFSCME Council 31