AFSCME sets course for November election
Some 500 local union leaders from across the state met in Peoria on Saturday at the Council 31 PEOPLE Conference to make candidate recommendations for the November general election. Conference participants reaffirmed the union’s commitment to doing everything possible to defeat Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner.
To that end, the delegates voted to support Pat Quinn in the race for governor. By an overwhelming majority, the conference adopted a resolution which made clear that the serious differences AFSCME has had with Gov. Quinn cannot stand as a barrier to stopping Rauner from becoming governor. (Scroll down to read the text of the resolution.)
“Not only is Bruce Rauner completely out of touch with the realities working families face, he is openly hostile to the priorities of the middle class and all those struggling to get there,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch told the assembled delegates.
“As a CEO, Rauner’s companies mistreated workers, neglected patients, outsourced jobs and broke the law. He showed he would do anything to make money,” Lynch continued. “Now Rauner the politician will say anything to get elected, and he’d bring the same ruthless approach to government.
“Rauner wants to cut the pay of public employees, close down our pension plans, force us out on strike in order to ‘redo’ union contracts, and take away our right to collective bargaining.”
“And Rauner’s not just bad for public employees, he’s a threat to all working people in the state of Illinois. He opposes raising the minimum wage, wants to set up Right-to-Work (for less!) zones throughout the state, would cut taxes for the wealthy and shift the burden onto the middle class, and plans to slash funding to local school districts and privatize our public schools,” Lynch said.
“Although we have had serious differences with Governor Quinn in recent years,” Lynch concluded, “he stands in stark contrast to Bruce Rauner in recognizing the right of workers to collective bargaining, supporting the revenue needed to provide public services, and pushing to raise the wages of the lowest-paid workers.”
The PEOPLE Conference also recommended Dick Durbin for re-election to the United States Senate, as well as making endorsements in a number of Congressional districts. Delegates gave a thumbs up to the candidacies of Mike Frerichs for Treasurer, Judy Baar Topinka for Comptroller and Jesse White for Secretary of State.
Saturday’s statewide conference capped a months-long grassroots process where rank-and-file delegates in 11 regions statewide reviewed candidates’ voting records, responses to the union’s candidate questionnaire, and in many instances directly interviewed the candidates before recommending endorsements at the state and local legislative levels. Delegates to this weekend’s conference represented local unions and retiree groups from across the state of Illinois.