The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is the
latest labor union to illustrate that point. AFSCME on Wednesday
announced its endorsement of Kirk Dillard in Illinois' four-way
Republican race for governor.
SCRATCH MY BACK? AFSCME is hoping
Dillard is their guy.
"We believe that Kirk Dillard would be the best choice in the Republican
primary," an AFSCME statement reads. "He rejects the demonization of
public employees ... who provide the vital public services that Illinois
The statement then uses three paragraphs to blast the GOP primary
front-runner, Bruce Rauner.
"It is critically important that AFSCME members do their part to support
Kirk Dillard and defeat Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary," the
John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, said that last line
says a lot about AFSCE and its motives.
"The union interest here is to continue the gravy train of high taxpayer
burdens to fund public employee compensations," Tillman said.
Dillard also has endorsements from two of Illinois' three teachers
unions. Both the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois
Federation of Teachers are backing Dillard.
Both labor unions say pensions are the big reason why.
"Sen. Dillard supports our fight for adequate funding for public
education and he stood up to tremendous pressure and voted against the unfair
and unconstitutional pension bill," IEA President Cinda Klicnka
said in her endorsement letter to teachers.
Tillman said Illinois' public employee unions have a long history of
supporting lawmakers who support them, but usually big labor pulls for
Democrats in statewide elections.
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This year, however, Illinois' labor unions are pouring millions of
dollars into the race to defeat Rauner.
Tillman said big labor's support of Dillard is an
offshoot of that.
"This is all part and parcel of the public sector unions' strategy,"
Tillman said. "They want to have tremendous influence over whoever wins the
governor's race in the fall."
David Yepsen, a longtime journalist who is now director of the Paul
Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said
that what the unions really want is to not be Wisconsin.
"I think the labor movement in Illinois is genuinely afraid Bruce Rauner
will try to do what Scott Walker tried in Wisconsin, and they are worried," Yepsen told Illinois Watchdog.
Wisconsin's Walker, through Act 10, reformed collective bargaining
with public-sector unions.
Rauner, for his part, is making it clear he's willing to stand up to
the big "union bosses" he claims have hijacked state government.
"The government union bosses are at the core of our spending problem
in Illinois. It's a conflict of interest for the taxpayers," Rauner
said at a Wednesday debate in Chicago.
Two other GOP candidates, Bill Brady and Dan Rutherford, have
generally stayed out of the back-and-forth between Dillard, Rauner
and the unions.
Voters will pick one of the four in the March 18 GOP primary.
Contact Benjamin Yount at
Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him
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