Executive Director Reports

It's no secret: Working families can't afford Brady

Bill Brady, the Republican candidate for governor, spent a lot of time denouncing the agreement AFSCME reached with the Quinn administration, which would extend a no-layoff guarantee for state employees that expires on June 30, 2011, if the union and the employer can save the state at least $50 million.

One might think that Sen. Brady would applaud an agreement that will:

    Lead to saving taxpayer dollars in a budget that’s $13 billion out of whack;

    Maintain health care, child protection, public safety and other vital services at a time of heavy demand; and

    Keep from adding to the ranks of the unemployed.

Instead, Brady attacked the union and the Quinn administration for entering into a "secret deal" which would "tie his hands" should he become the governor.

The "secret," according to Republicans was that there was a quid pro quo: The union would endorse Quinn and in return he would agree to no layoffs.

Not so. The decision to endorse Gov. Quinn came only after a spirited debate before approximately 500 local union delegates from not only state, but university, local government and private sector locals, who are the only ones empowered to make endorsement decisions.

You’d think that a man who has been in the legislature for seventeen years and has been called upon to cast thousands of votes on important policy and budget issues and now wants to be governor would do a little homework before shooting from the hip.

Equally troublesome is Brady’s complaint that this no-layoff agreement would tie his hands. It’s safe to presume that he’s not opposed to the cost-savings that would be generated by the agreement, since he says he will cut every budget – state agencies, universities, aid to schools and local governments, and nonprofit agency funding.

No, Bill Brady’s concern is that he would be prevented from laying off state employees and closing state facilities. And there’s ample evidence in his long record as a state senator that Brady has a penchant for doing just that. It was this open record, not a secret deal, that led to the union’s decision to recommend Quinn.

When the election season started, there were more than a few AFSCME members who were mad at Pat Quinn. Even though he had reversed his predecessor’s decision to close the Pontiac Correctional Center, restored jobs in state parks and historic sites, forced Heartland Human Services to settle a two year strike and lockout, and resumed hiring in state agencies whose ranks had been decimated by his predecessor, he had also signed legislation reducing pensions for new hires, tried to layoff hundreds of members and closed the Thomson Correctional Center and Howe Developmental Center.

But then local union leaders had a chance to hear and question Brady directly.

Brady reiterated his determination to cut the state budget by 10 percent across the board. He said he thought the state should be run like a business and that he would look at privatizing state operations. And after having voted to cut the pensions of all new hires, (state, university, local governments and school board), he supports cutting them for current employees as well.

If there was a secret, it was Bill Brady’s voting record. And when it was revealed, AFSCME members found it included votes to eliminate 2,500 state jobs; cut university budgets by $38 million; wipe out a modest 2 percent COLA for community disability agencies; close the Zeller Mental Center in Peoria; shutter the Sheridan Correctional Center and mothball prison work camps in Paris, Greene County and Hanna City. Brady had sealed the deal – an overwhelming endorsement of Pat Quinn.

That’s the "secret." No one was more responsible for spurring the Quinn endorsement than Bill Brady himself. And for anyone who doubts Sen. Brady’s intentions, I invite you to view his TV ads blasting the no-layoff agreement and criticizing the governor for agreeing to maintain services and to keep facilities open.

The union has made its recommendation. Every member is of course entitled to his or her own opinion, but you should root your decision in the facts of the respective records.

On Nov. 2 either Pat Quinn or Bill Brady will be elected governor. One candidate has a mixed record and promises to improve. The other has a virtually unblemished record of opposition to the interests of working families and promises to keep it that way.

If anyone wants to defend Bill Brady’s record of cutting jobs, closing facilities and voting against the rights of workers, I’d like to hear from you.

And I’d like to hear from those who agree with me as you march to the polls with members from scores of other unions, to speak with one voice as we cast our votes for Pat Quinn.