Executive Director Reports

Elections don't win themselves

Sign up now to help defeat Bruce Rauner

 Roberta Lynch

Roberta Lynch

I was recently at my local pharmacy when one of the store employees came up and introduced himself to me as an AFSCME member. What was he doing working at the pharmacy, I wondered. It turns out he also works for the state Department of Human Services and has gone several years without getting any of his promised step increases, so he had to take a second job working evenings and weekends to make ends meet.

That’s Bruce Rauner at work. A governor who has driven our state ever deeper into debt, cost Illinois taxpayers a small fortune in interest payments, forced nonprofit community service agencies to close their doors or lay off staff, destabilized our state universities, and proven himself stunningly ineffective at the basic task of managing state government operations.

So what exactly has Rauner been doing in the governor’s office for nearly four years? The answer is all too plain, yet still heard to believe. He’s been working tirelessly to pursue his vendetta against public service workers—particularly targeting state employees.

Employees like the nursing aides who care for our frail and ailing veterans, the mental health technicians who provide round-the-clock support for individuals with severe developmental disabilities, the child protective investigators who often put themselves at risk to rescue children from abusive homes, the correctional officers who go behind prison walls daily to keep the rest of us safe.

Why would a guy with untold personal wealth so ardently devote himself to inflicting harm on individuals who devote their working lives to helping others and to the betterment of our communities?

That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times and cannot begin to answer. But the record speaks all too clearly for itself. The young man I encountered at the pharmacy had to work two jobs because one of Bruce Rauner’s earliest acts in office was to halt all scheduled employee step increases--hitting especially hard at the newest hires, many of them saddled with college debt or with young families to support.

Bruce Rauner could care less about the hardships they face. From his earliest days in office he has made it his mission to drive down public employee salaries and benefits. Here’s a millionaire who made his riches in part by slashing the care in nursing homes and polluting the environment now fulminating about the salaries of public servants who keep Illinois working every day—salaries that average just $60,000, with many employees making far less.

At the same time, Rauner is trying to make it harder for these employees to afford health care coverage, pushing to raise their premium contributions by 100%. And he’s leading the charge to find ways to reduce employee pensions, making it harder to count on dignity and security in their retirement years.

And of course, it’s not just state employees that Rauner’s after. He wants to drive down the incomes and weaken the rights of every public employee—at state universities, city and county governments, and school districts.

All of the harm that’s been done to our state’s financial and social infrastructures by Rauner’s two-year budget blockade was in the service of this overriding goal—to destroy the public employee unions that raised those incomes and established those rights.

Fortunately for those of us in AFSCME and other unions, the Democrats refused to bow down to Rauner’s demands. And fortunately for our state, a great majority of Illinoisan now understand what Bruce Rauner is really about. Polls show his approval rating below 30 percent.

Yet, despite his abysmal record and his tanking polls, Rauner is running for another term as governor, pouring his untold wealth into the race and doing everything he can to smear his opponents. With no achievements to run on, he’s trying to depress voter turnout, hoping enough folks will be so turned off by all the negativity he’s spewing that they’ll just stay home on Election Day.

JB Pritzker and Juliana Stratton offer a sharp contrast. They’re running for public office because they want to help improve people’s lives. They’ve travelled from one end of this state to the other, meeting many AFSCME members along the way. They believe in the importance of public services and value the work that public employees do. They know Illinois faces very difficult challenges, but they want to try to solve them, not shift the blame to those who keep our state working every day.

Bruce Rauner is not going down without a fight. So if we want new leadership in Springfield we have to be prepared to fight too. And that means going out and knocking on doors up and down the streets of our communities to talk to every single voter. Experience clearly demonstrates that there is no more important factor in bringing out voters than encouragement from someone in their own community.

Elections don't win themselves. It’s not too late to get involved.

Click here and sign up now to do your part to defeat Bruce Rauner. We have just this one opportunity to end his reign of destruction. Let’s make sure we get the job done.