All the resources at stake in the AFSCME state union negotiations are extracted from private-sector taxpayers. AFSCME’s high pay, 37.5 hour work-week, platinum level healthcare, generous pensions and lifetime health insurance benefits are billable to Illinois taxpayers. And because the union wants even more, there is an impasse in negotiations. In reality, AFSCME is at impasse with taxpayers, not Rauner.
The entire transfer of resources being negotiated at the bargaining table is from taxpayers to the union. Rauner is simply a taxpayer steward to represent their interests in the negotiations. And thank God for that, because decades of governors have proven uninterested in advocating for taxpayers against the union. Dealing with Rauner must seem like shock therapy for the union. A more accurate description is a small dose of reality after decades of fantasy benefit levels.
AFSCME wants more which means less for taxpayers, private sector be damned. The most recent numbers from IDES have it at 370,000 unemployed people in Illinois – about ten times the number of workers covered by AFSCME. The union wants a tax hike on these unemployed folks and their potential employers. Many more working Illinoisans haven’t seen benefits anything like AFSCME’s in their entire lifetime of work. AFSCME wants more taxes from them, too.
The state labor board declared negotiations at impasse and AFSCME responded by filing suit in union-friendly courts to prevent Rauner from imposing his last best offer. The process will drag on for months if not years. According to Rauner’s people, AFSCME wants benefits worth another $3 billion over the life of the 4-year contract.
All of a sudden Scott Walker’s Act 10 and Mitch Daniels rescinding collective bargaining for state workers makes a whole lot of sense to anyone watching this charade. Consider a plain English translation of AFSCME’s position:
“We want more from you taxpayers. Call it about $3 billion more over 4 years. After assessing the state of the Illinois economy and comparing our pay and benefit levels against those of the private-sector working Joe, we think our request is so reasonable that we as public servants will drag this out for years, kicking and screaming for more taxpayer dollars. We find we’ve done such a good job as government workers that taxpayers should bleed even more to keep us employed as their public servants. And merit pay for our work? No thank you. Mandatory pay hikes suit us just fine.”
The union often deflects by saying their members are taxpayers too. But there’s a world of difference. AFSCME union members receive salaries that come from private-sector tax dollars, then they kick back some amount on their own tax bills. They are net tax receivers, big league.
AFSCME is at impasse with taxpayers. Expect this to continue throughout Rauner’s first term. Then expect AFSCME to go all-in to elect a new governor who will cease representing taxpayers at the bargaining table. AFSCME will end the impasse with taxpayers once they are allowed to bleed taxpayers completely dry.
*”Dalton” is a pseudonym for an individual known to us here at Wirepoints. As part of our expansion we expect to running more guest articles like this and some will be from authors we respect who are accurate but who wish to remain confidential for personal reasons.