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Month one of Governor Rauner

2/20/2015
As I’m sure you know, Governor Rauner’s first weeks in office have been nothing short of a whirlwind. I wanted to take a moment to update you on what has been happening, where things stand, and what comes next.

Rather than addressing our state’s fiscal challenges, right out of the gate Rauner has instead chosen to blame public workers for our state’s ills and level out-of-touch, partisan attacks on middle class families and our unions.

In a blatant abuse of power on February 9, the Governor signed an Executive Order to block thousands of state employees – including about 900 IFT members – from paying the equivalent of dues. (The order does not impact teachers, school employees, and higher education faculty). He also announced that he filed suit in federal court to have these fair share provisions declared unconstitutional.

That’s right. The Governor’s first action was to sue us.

The IFT and other unions responded immediately to oppose the illegal, overreaching order. And we were not alone.

Researchers and media across the country weighed in on the Governor’s action. From the New York Times:
Rauner issued an executive order this week that would weaken state unions ... [A]ll working people would suffer, because collectively bargained pay increases in unionized workplaces tend to lift wages in non-unionized ones. Anti-unionism, which has become increasingly entrenched in recent decades, correlates with stagnating and declining wages.
When Rauner’s appointee, Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger, agreed with Attorney General Lisa Madigan that the order was illegal and refused to follow it, the Governor found a “work around.” As one reporter wrote:
So, instead of ordering the comptroller to violate state law and state contracts, the governor’s gonna do it himself.
From his first day in office, the Governor has vilified working people and suggested public employees are overpaid. It's blatant hypocrisy, and Rauner is rightfully being called out on it.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about the Governor who "defends aides’ pay while ripping state salaries,” while the Quad-City Times reported that he has awarded top administrators at the State Board of Education with big bonuses, while union workers (IFT members!) haven’t received a raise or cost of living adjustment in years. Not to mention, they’ve been trying to bargain a contract for nearly two years to no avail.

His budget address this week was just another example of Rauner’s attacks on workers and families - and it is unconscionable.

While proposing billions of dollars in cuts to critical programs and services and employee benefits, he refuses to ask corporations and the wealthiest Illinoisans to pay a penny more, despite a crystal clear mandate from voters in November.

Some of the cuts he proposes are illegal (thus making the savings fictional), including the elimination of health insurance for retired teachers and a pension “reform” plan, which would move teachers, university employees, and state employees into the insufficient Tier 2 pension plan beginning July 1. Such a change is unconstitutional, and when he announced it, every legislator in that chamber knew it.

Even the “funding increase” Rauner proposes for education is dishonest and doesn’t provide the minimum per pupil funding level required to educate our kids. In fact, if he freezes property taxes as he has pledged, his proposed increase would barely cover one-third of that lost revenue, thus making it a cut. It's just a shell game.

But none of Rauner’s attacks are a game to middle class workers and our families, and I can assure you, we aren’t sitting idly by. Our union is working nonstop with lawmakers in Springfield, and we’re spreading our message in the media to educate the public about this Governor’s dangerous proposals. We are working with our labor partners and other groups to coordinate and enhance our efforts.

Yesterday in Chicago, I had the privilege to watch President Obama declare the Pullman district – a site of rich history and birthplace of the union movement — a national monument. In his remarks he quoted A. Philip Randolph, who organized the city’s rail car workers and said: “If you stand firm and hold your ground, in the long run you’ll win.”

Together, that’s exactly what we’ll do too.

In unity,
Dan-Sig
Dan Montgomery
President, IFT
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