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Another day, another Rauner hostage

1/21/2016

It was just another day in the war against workers for Governor Rauner, who announced this morning that he will now support what he said was Democratic Sen. President John Cullerton’s pension proposal. The news comes on the heels of yesterday’s attempt to distract Illinoisans from the fact that, just days before his second State of the State address, the Governor has failed to pass a state budget during his first year in office.

Last spring, Cullerton called for a “consideration” model which would offer public employees a "choice" between receiving cost-of-living-increases or including pay raises in the calculation of their retirement benefits.

Rauner said he wants to take that unconstitutional model further by including a legislative poison pill, proposing to take away workers’ rights to bargain salary increases with their employers.

The IFT and our We Are One Illinois coalition of unions responded immediately.

"Another day, another hostage for Governor Rauner in his war on the working people of Illinois. Yesterday it was public schools, for more than a year it has been the state budget, and today it is retirement security for teachers, first responders and other public service workers.

"Rather than address his failure to enact a state budget or take a new approach by showing a willingness to work together, the Governor promotes cutting constitutionally-protected pensions in an effort to further attack working people and their unions he considers his political enemies.

"Rauner's latest proposal is irresponsible and divisive. Slashing retirement security by forcing workers to choose between two diminished options is clearly unconstitutional. And to no one's surprise, poison pills in the governor's plan would wipe out the right of working people to have a collective voice on the job on behalf of their families and those they serve."

The Governor also said he wishes he could eliminate collective bargaining for public workers in Illinois. He insisted that removing the right to bargain over wages would ensure that the new bill passes constitutional muster.

“In order for President Cullerton’s bill to be constitutional, salary increases have to be taken out of collective bargaining. So the union has nothing to do with it in the future, and each individual employee makes their own choice: Do they want their salary increases to be pensionable or not?”

That isn’t what Cullerton had in mind. He quickly responded:

“The governor called me this morning to say he was going to back my ideas for pension reform. The plan he outlined at his news conference isn’t what we talked about. It’s not my plan. It goes beyond what we discussed and beyond what I support.

“We apparently still have a fundamental disagreement over the role of collective bargaining in this process, in the sense that I think collective bargaining should continue to exist and the governor does not.”

House Speaker Michael Madigan said he and Cullerton will not agree to the Governor’s harmful proposal.

“The Governor said today that in exchange for negotiating on pension reform, he will continue to demand changes that will drive down the wages and standard of living of middle-class families.

"Despite the Governor’s desire to drive a wedge between Democrats in the House and Senate, neither President Cullerton nor I will agree to make changes proposed by the Governor that will hurt the middle-class families of our state.”

Once again, Rauner isn’t seeking compromise - and he isn’t looking out for everyday men and women. He is trying to destroy our unions.

We Are One called on the Governor to give up on his damaging personal obsession against unions and finally get to work on the real issues impacting our state.
"Our coalition has always advocated a responsible solution to the pension funding issue that is both constitutional and fair. We urge the governor to abandon unconstitutional attacks and put the people of this state ahead of his political agenda. His disregard for working families is causing irreparable harm to children and communities across Illinois."
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