AFSCME statement on the election of Bruce Rauner
The voters have spoken and Bruce Rauner is now Illinois’ governor-elect.
For more than a year Rauner’s campaign has been characterized by unalloyed hostility toward public service workers and their unions. In fact, throughout the early months of his candidacy, Rauner appeared to be running not so much against Pat Quinn as against the public employees who are on the frontlines for Illinois citizens every day.
What remains unknown is whether as governor Bruce Rauner will be the kind of leader who can bring people together to work toward greater fairness and economic opportunity in our state or if he will persist on the path of conflict and divisiveness.
AFSCME’s mission is to improve the lives of public service workers and aid in improving the quality of the public services union members provide. Our union is not a partisan organization. We have been the strong voice of and for public employees for more than 40 years, nearly a quarter-century of that time under Republican governors. If the new governor shows that he values working people, respects our right to have a voice through our unions and truly seeks to find common ground, we are prepared to work constructively with him wherever possible, just as we did with his fellow Republicans, Jim Thompson, who signed collective bargaining into law in Illinois, and Jim Edgar, who worked to improve the inadequate pensions that state employees had at that time.
If, on the other hand, the new governor chooses to launch an assault on the right of workers to bargain collectively, if he tries to carry out his pledge to provoke a strike and shut down government, if he sets out to undercut the decent pay, affordable health care and security in retirement our contracts provide, or if he attempts to sell off public services for private profit, then AFSCME members will not hesitate to stand up in defense of our rights, our families and our communities.
More than support for any candidate, Illinois voters sent a clear message this week that they want greater economic fairness and progress in our state. Overwhelming majorities voted in support of the advisory ballot measures to raise the minimum wage and to strengthen our public schools by increasing taxes on incomes over a million dollars. It will be incumbent on the next governor to act to advance those goals. If Bruce Rauner does so, he can count on AFSCME’s cooperation in that effort.