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It is absurd to think that members of the State Assembly, the Senate and the Governor would treat the people on the front lines of providing state services as they have. This absurdity is in fact reality. Last year the Governor refused to honor the union's contractually mandated pay raises for most state employees. Then he pushed a pension plan that was clearly unconstitutional reducing benefits for not only current employees, but retirees as well. Examples were given of cronies gaming the system. I can assure you the pensioners I know all receive well under 30k per year. That is hardly a "hefty benefit". Now, in addition to this, his negotiators have refused to budge at all in negotiations for the next union contract with AFSCME.

As a total fuck you to AFSCME, the Governor actually gave the Teamsters a three percent raise during a temporary extension of their contract, after he had already terminated the contract the State held with AFSCME. AFSCME members are at this moment working without a contract.

A bit of background, pensions are not a collective bargaining right in Illinois. None the less, it is still a mighty slight that in addition to pensions being attacked, the union proposed a one year salary freeze and that was not enough for the governor. This was assuming that revenues would increase with the ease of the recession. The Governor's office countered with a three year freeze, and an increase in healthcare costs amounting to a ten thousand dollar reduction in take home pay. They have not moved from this position. Employees are willing and able to accept a freeze, but with the increase of the price of food, necessities, and other goods, a reduction in pay is not acceptable. Many people live month to month, and a reduction like this could force the loss of their home and/or car.

So yes, the union is prepared to strike. The unfortunate thing is that it will not end well for either party in these negotiations. It will also not end well for those among us who rely on state services. The problem is that while the legislature is trying to pass blatantly unconstitutional laws to royally screw them over, the Governor's office is doing the same with what should be a simple contract negotiation.

Why are state employees so angry? Well, one the governor did not honor the last contract by denying most employees raises guaranteed by that contract. Some agencies did receive these raises, which makes it look like this isn't about cost savings, it is about divide and conquer tactics being utilized in order to break the union. Employees of the State of Illinois are angry to say the least. For many, this is the final straw. Pensions are guaranteed, and contract law is sacred, unless you are a lowly public servant it would seem.

The Illinois Constitution states, "Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired." Proposed laws diminish this benefit for current employees by raising eligibility requirements, decreasing the amount of the pensions (even for current retirees) and increasing required contributions. Now employees are forced to deal with a reduction in take home pay that is already stretched thin to pay ever increasing bills. Many employees have at one point been offered employment elsewhere, and have stayed with the state out of a feeling of duty to public service. In many more cases they stayed because at least they knew they could be secure in retirement. This has gone too far. A strike must be called to ensure lawmakers uphold their oath, and to ensure the Governor's Office understands they are in no position to dictate terms, violate contracts, or drastically reduce the take home pay of state employees.

So yes, if scheduled negotiations do not yield anything, the State of Illinois will shut down next week, possibly for weeks or more. As 95% of the employees are unionized, a total shutdown is anticipated. I say, "Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains."

I should also note that many delivery services have given unofficial confirmation that picket lines will not be crossed. A major package delivery service is among them.

Edit: I removed all references to party ID as it has no bearing on the current situation.

Originally posted to You know me man on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:26 PM PST.

Also republished by Land of Lincoln Kos.

Poll

With them or not?

80%49 votes
19%12 votes

| 61 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination." - Mark Twain *which is odd, because I've never seen I Republican and thought, gee that person looks happy

    by You know me man on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:26:24 PM PST

  •  This is total snark, okay maybe only 90% (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Chi, ladybug53

    But if you don't favor a strike when an employer, pretend they are a corporation, imposes a ten thousand dollar paycut, after violating your contract, and it includes even the lowest paid worker, I wonder if you and I have the same liberal ideals. Not everyone makes 50k. Some people would starve after a ten thousand dollar paycut.

    "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination." - Mark Twain *which is odd, because I've never seen I Republican and thought, gee that person looks happy" -me

    by You know me man on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:04:54 PM PST

  •  I'm always with the union (6+ / 0-)

    when there is a strike.

    A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by notrouble on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:17:05 PM PST

    •  That means an awful lot more than you know (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      notrouble, plankbob, Chi

      Thank you, on behalf of all of my union brothers and sisters. SOLIDARITY! It's more than just a word.

      "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination." - Mark Twain :*Which is odd, because I've never seen I Republican and thought, gee that person looks happy" -me

      by You know me man on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:28:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Relative to what? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    You know me man
    ...shall not be diminished or impaired.
    •  Relative to the rights outlined in an employment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      contract. It isn't just the IL Constitution, federal law also prohibits states from impairing contracts. This comment could turn out as a four page essay, but sufficed to say, the state made a contractual promise, one that is not only protected under federal law, but also explicitly protected by the IL Constitution, and now they are trying to pass a law they know will be overturned so they can pretend they have money to spend next year. If it is overturned, they will have to repay the "savings" with 12 percent interest. This isn't part of the negotiations though. This is merely something that has caused employees to be more willing to consider a strike. The real reason for the strike is that they wish to charge a person making 30k per year nearly 10 thousand dollars more for his/her healthcare over three years. That person is probably already having trouble making ends meet. Their demand is untenable. We have all discussed a freeze for three years, and most are willing, however, a reduction in pay is the final straw after all of their maneuvering to mess with the pension system.

      "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination." - Mark Twain :*Which is odd, because I've never seen I Republican and thought, gee that person looks happy" -me

      by You know me man on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:36:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But it's still confusing. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        You know me man, johnny wurster

        A new contract with an individual is what it is. Nothing is being diminished or impaired since there is no predicate.

        •  the way I would read it as an IANAL (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53

          is that you cannot screw with current retirees, however, the courts have ruled that it applies from the day you were hired, meaning that whatever rules or compensation schemes were in effect on your date of hire are binding, see Felt vs. Board of Trustees, 107 Ill.2d 158 (1985). It holds that since Judges had that agreement, their final compensation upon which their pension is based cannot be changed. This publication outlines several other cases: http://www.ilga.gov/...

          "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination." - Mark Twain :*Which is odd, because I've never seen I Republican and thought, gee that person looks happy" -me

          by You know me man on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:58:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Also, I think you are confusing the union (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53

          contract with an employment contract. The two are in no way related. Personally, I accepted employment as a non-union employee, however I was still promised certain benefits as a condition of employment. They are forbidden from taking these rights away under both federal contract law and more explicitly the IL Constitution. Case and point that once offered, and accepted, these rights are guaranteed. Even so, I am willing to make concessions, however, the concessions the State is currently asking are too much, not for me as I have a professional degree, and can absorb a paycut without switching to catfood, but for most of the state workforce it will be a disaster. I stand with them.

          "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination." - Mark Twain :*Which is odd, because I've never seen I Republican and thought, gee that person looks happy" -me

          by You know me man on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 11:04:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I edited the diary and removed the disclaimer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, ModerateJosh

    adding an edit at the bottom so everyone knew this wasn't about party, it was about protecting workers rights.

    "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination." - Mark Twain :*Which is odd, because I've never seen I Republican and thought, gee that person looks happy" -me

    by You know me man on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:46:48 PM PST

  •  Solidarity from Wisconsin. n/t (4+ / 0-)

    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me.

    by plankbob on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 03:33:16 AM PST

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