Tag: public employees

When it comes to fighting against Wisconsin Republicans’ push to dismantle good government, Dianne Hesselbein leads

Wisconsin Republicans are spending virtually all of their time trying to dismantle what little remains of Wisconsin’s once-proud tradition of good government and enact a ton of blatantly partisan legislation. One of those blatantly partisan pieces of legislation is legislation that would dismantle Wisconsin’s civil service system and allow Republicans like Governor Scott Walker to install political cronies in every kind of Wisconsin state government job that you can think of. In a recent op-ed in the Madison, Wisconsin-based newspaper The Cap Times, State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), described the Republican plan for dismantling Wisconsin’s civil service system:

The new Republican law will introduce an element of fear in the workplace. New employees will face a full year of probation instead of the current 60 days. (It was to be two years, but the bill’s authors started to feel a chill and backed off.) During probation, new hires will be in a free-fire zone and can be fired at will. If there are layoffs, seniority will not count. Raises will become individual bonuses awarded to the favored few.

Hiring and firing will be controlled by the governor’s political arm — the Department of Administration — not the home agency. Employees will no longer have the assurance that, so long as they show up and do their job well, their job will be secure. Now, for the first time since the Progressives created it in 1905, they will have to worry about political factors.

There’s plenty of other odious pieces of legislation that Republicans want to enact in Wisconsin when it comes to dismantling good government. These include replacing Wisconsin’s non-partisan government watchdog with two separate partisan state commissions, as well as rewriting Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws to allow more money to flow into the political system and allow campaign donors to not disclose who employs them.

I’m glad that someone like Dianne Hesselbein is strongly opposing the Republicans’ efforts to make Wisconsin more like Illinois, a state rife with political corruption and cronyism.

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Time for the Illinois General Assembly to put an end to Bruce Rauner’s cavalier attitude toward collective bargaining

At the end of June of this year, AFSCME Local Council 31’s contract with the State of Illinois expired, leaving workers represented by the largest public employee union in Illinois without a contract. Since then, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has only made nominal efforts at negotiating with AFSCME, refusing to concede much of anything to AFSCME and not acting serious at all about collective bargaining.

However, Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly have an opportunity to end Rauner’s cavalier attitude toward the public employees in Illinois and collective bargaining, once and for all…they can override Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1229 (SB1229), legislation that would authorize an arbitrator to decide the contract that would go to AFSCME Local Council 31-represented state employees to be voted on.

As it turns out, Democrats may have enough votes to override Rauner’s veto, especially in the state senate:

Senate President JOHN CULLERTON, D-Chicago, has already said the Senate will vote this week on an override. Presumably, the chamber could succeed. The Senate voted 38-17 to approve the bill. It would take 36 votes to override.

The House is a different story. The vote there was 67-25 in May. It takes 71 votes in the House to override.

But 17 House members, all but two of them Republicans, took a walk. They didn’t vote on the bill. That includes most of the Republicans from the Springfield area, who represent large numbers of state workers. They can always take another walk on an override, but in the meantime, they’ll probably get pressure from constituents to support an override — just as they’re likely to get pressure from Republican leadership to support their governor and vote against it.

Looks like the fight on whether or not to put an end to Rauner’s cavalier attitude toward the largest public employee union is in the state house. If you live in Illinois, this is a great opportunity to contact your state legislators and tell them to vote YES to override Rauner’s veto of SB1229. This bill does not violate the Illinois Constitution, nor does it undermine democracy. What it would do is put a mechanism in place to prevent strikes by, and lockouts of, public employees by allowing an arbitrator to decide on a contract if the governor and a public employee union can’t agree on one, in this case, due to the governor refusing to seriously negotiate with the largest public employee union in Illinois.

Illinois Supreme Court UNANIMOUSLY throws out pension theft scheme

This is a couple of days old, but I have great news to share:

The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday unanimously ruled unconstitutional a landmark state pension law that aimed to scale back government worker benefits to erase a massive $105 billion retirement system debt, sending lawmakers and the new governor back to the negotiating table to try to solve the pressing financial issue.

The ruling also reverberated at (Chicago) City Hall, imperiling a similar law (Chicago) Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through to shore up two of the four city worker retirement funds and making it more difficult for him to find fixes for police, fire and teacher pension funds that are short billions of dollars.

At issue was a December 2013 state law signed by then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn that stopped automatic, compounded yearly cost-of-living increases for retirees, extended retirement ages for current state workers and limited the amount of salary used to calculate pension benefits.

The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously struck down the pension theft scheme despite Democratic Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan basically arguing that politicians don’t have to abide by the Illinois Constitution, which contains provisions protecting the pension benefits that our state’s public employees pay into one of several public employee pension systems, if there’s a significant pension shortfall. The Illinois Supreme Court, which has four Democrats and three Republicans, ruled unanimously that the provisions of Illinois Constitution pertaining to public employee pensions do, in fact, apply to politicians who try to screw over retirees.

Make no mistake about it, the fight against the Quinn-Rahm-Ranuer pension theft scheme is far from over.

Bruce Rauner’s hand-picked comptroller stabs Rauner in the back and refuses to go along with his union-busting scheme

Republican Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger, who was appointed by Illinois Governor and fellow Republican Bruce Rauner to the comptroller’s office after the winner of the 2014 comptroller’s election, Judy Baar Topinka, died after the election but before she could be sworn-in for a new term, stabbed Rauner in the back by refusing to go along with Rauner’s union-busting scheme of attempting to eliminate fair share fees paid by non-union workers in unionized state offices here in Illinois as part of an national, multi-pronged effort to bust public employee unions across the entire country, and the office of Democratic Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is siding with Munger and the unions:

On Monday, (Illinois Governor Bruce) Rauner drew fury from organized labor when he signed an executive order regarding union fees, saying its aim was to allow state workers to avoid paying so-called “fair-share” fees if they had opted out of joining a union.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger, a Republican recently appointed by Rauner, initially did not abide, raising the question of whether it’s constitutional — without a court order — to withhold those fees and place them in an escrow account as Rauner had ordered.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office said it wasn’t constitutional.

The governor’s executive order does not apply to other constitutional officers, according to Illinois Attorney General office chief of staff Ann Spillane.

Rauner has since circumvented the comptroller’s office and is implementing the executive order through various state agencies that Rauner appoints the heads of.

While it’s obvious to me that the only reason Munger is opposing Rauner’s union-busting scheme is because she’s up for election next year, and I’d never vote for a Republican for state comptroller, I’m glad to see Comptroller Munger opposing Governor Rauner’s union-busting scheme and standing up for Illinois workers. Sadly, I’m 100% certain that Rauner is not done trying to crater an already weak Illinois economy.

Bruce Rauner wasting taxpayer money on a chief of staff for his wife, who has no official duties

Hypocrisy DefinitionBruce Rauner, the Republican governor of my home state of Illinois, is complaining about public employees being overpaid, which, as a recent study by the University of Illinois pointed out, is a myth.

However, in an article in the Davenport, Iowa-based Quad City Times that was primarily about the U of I study on public employee salaries, it was reported that Rauner hired a $100,000/year chief of staff for his wife, Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner:

The governor’s comments (about public employee salaries) also came as he is in the midst of building his own administration. On Tuesday for example, he hired a $100,000 chief of staff for his wife, Diana Rauner, even though the first lady has no official duties.

Bruce Rauner hiring a chief of staff for our state’s first lady, who has no official duties whatsoever, and paying the first lady’s chief of staff a whopping $100,000 per year salary is a hypocritical waste of taxpayer money. Let me emphasize that I am not attacking the first lady; I’m attacking the governor for wasting our taxpayer dollars. Our state’s fiscal problems are too severe for the governor to be hiring a chief of staff for someone who doesn’t have any official duties.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh violates First Amendment rights of public employees at the behest of the U.S. Olympic Committee

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has signed a decree, at the behest of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), prohibiting Boston city employees from speaking against the Boston bid for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad, commonly known as the 2024 Summer Olympics:

If you’re a Boston city employee, there’s now an official decree: Don’t badmouth the Olympics.

Documents obtained by the (Boston) Globe through a public records request to City Hall show Mayor Martin J. Walsh has signed a formal agreement with the United States Olympic Committee that bans city employees from criticizing Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games.

The “joinder agreement” forbids the city of Boston and its employees from making any written or oral statements that “reflect unfavorably upon, denigrate or disparage, or are detrimental to the reputation” of the International Olympic Committee, the USOC, or the Olympic Games.

Instead, the USOC and the Walsh administration must “work cooperatively together to manage, complete, and promote” the city’s bid to the International Olympic Committee. Boston city employees “shall each promote” the city’s bid “in a positive manner,” the agreement adds.

Make no mistake about it, this is a blatant violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution that is part of an ongoing War on the First Amendment by Republicans, corporate Democrats, right-wing judges, political elites, and now the U.S. Olympic Committee. For Marty Walsh, who was supported by Elizabeth Warren in his 2013 Boston mayoral campaign, to do the USOC’s bidding and effectively censor the voices of public employees for political reasons is a disgusting backstab to those who voted him into office.

This is the kind of authoritarian politics I expect from Republicans like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, not from Democrats like Marty Walsh.