It seems to be the political flavor of the week. Bash Pat Quinn for the sleazy, borderline crooked, deal he worked out with the labor union that represents many state government workers.
Nobody from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will get laid off during the next two years. It doesn’t matter whether Quinn is governor, or whether he gets replaced after the Nov. 2 elections.
IT WAS AROUND the same time that the deal was completed that the labor union decided that it believes Quinn to be best qualified for governor. They gave him their endorsement. Considering that they also decided to snub Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, by ignoring endorsements for the legislative seats needed to maintain Madigan’s control, it has the appearance of something flawed.
Quinn is getting bashed about, most vocally by the people who want state Sen. William Brady, R-Bloomington, to be the next governor of Illinois.
Brady is the guy who talks in vague terms about how he’s going to cut costs within state government in order to close the deficit that has confounded officials for years. He won’t offer specifics, because he knows that if he does he will turn off so many potential voters that Quinn will be a shoo-in for election to his own gubernatorial term.
Layoffs likely would have occurred if we got a “Gov. Brady.” Now, Quinn has taken that option away from him. Which is why Brady is engaging in the rhetoric about “pay to play,” the government-speak term for “bribe” that is used when one has no evidence that anything illegal actually occurred.
CONSIDERING THAT THE state’s financial problems are of the level of severity that only a fool would think we can cut our way back to solvency, perhaps it is a good thing that this option has been taken off the table. Now we won’t have to endure any nonsense rhetoric that the budget would be balanced – if only we didn’t have those greedy state workers and their corrupt labor unions.
If we get a “Gov. Brady,” he’s going to have to address the issue a little more seriously, instead of engaging in the nonsense rhetoric that the conservative ideologues want to hear – but is totally unrealistic.
Personally, my hope is that with the election cycle past, the Illinois General Assembly will be in a mood next spring to start dealing with the state’s finances in a serious manner – instead of the way they have been handling the issue.
A desire to dump all over anything that might make former Gov. Rod Blagojevich look good, combined with political cowardice, is what has caused all the short-term measures that have done nothing but pushed the problem into the future, while also increasing the size of the debt.
I KNOW THAT some political observers are mocking the provisions of Quinn’s agreement with the labor union that call for spending cuts. They claim it is way too insignificant to matter.
Yet when one considers that this is a problem that is going to take years to resolve (why not, it took years to develop), I say every little financial bit helps. Anytime one can get a labor union to concede anything, it is an accomplishment – because technically, they’re not obligated to give back anything.
The fact that they were willing to make some concessions means they probably should get something in return. That’s what’s called negotiation. Imposing one’s will on someone else isn’t acceptable.
For the record, Crain’s Chicago Business reported this week that the labor union is going to have to come up with some legitimate cuts of at least $50 million, and up to $100 million. Those cuts could be less overtime, more unpaid furlough days and possibly a delay in pay raises the workers were supposed to be receiving come Jan. 1.
I CAN UNDERSTAND Brady being upset. He got one-upped. Of course, after a campaign season where Quinn has been dinged over and over, perhaps it was overdue for Quinn to get a blow in.
But I can’t help but think that the only people who are truly going to be upset are the ones who think government officials ought to be doing everything within their power to mess with organized labor. Any official who regards them as a part of government that is best cooperated with to avoid hassles is thinking too logically for the ideologues to accept.
So what do I think about this endorsement? It doesn’t seem too unreasonable. It is not shocking.
I always expected that AFSCME was going to endorse Quinn, which means that the labor union leaders will use their influence to get the rank-and-file of state workers to think that re-electing Quinn is in their best interests. What a surprise! The Chicago Tribune is favoring Republican William Brady when it comes to the latest "issue" in the gubernatorial campaign.
THEN AGAIN, AFSCME usually backs Democratic Party candidates for state government posts. The shock would have been if they had given Brady any serious consideration.
Brady, after all, is the candidate who has talked about lowering Illinois’ minimum wage, and has even used rhetoric that implies he wishes Illinois were a “right to work” state (meaning people cannot be required to join a labor union as part of their employment).
I would think that keeping Brady away from the Executive Mansion is the real motivation for AFSCME officials to endorse Quinn.