Scott Reeder, Illinois News Network Jan. 12, 2016, 1:46pm


Some days I’m flummoxed by how the most commonsense proposals in Springfield are blocked by entrenched special interests.

Take, for example, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s latest proposal that calls for rewarding state workers who show up for work and excel.

The largest union that represents state government workers is squealing about that one louder than a pig caught in a gate.

You’d think the apocalypse is upon us rather than a chance for workers to earn more.

But the proposal is threatening to one of the most powerful players in Springfield: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

For decades governors – Republican and Democrat alike – have kowtowed to this union, which has more than 30,000 members working in state government.

The union has stuffed politicians’ campaign coffers with cash. And the politicians in turn have stuffed our tax dollars into costly benefits for the AFSCME workers.

The union bosses’ clout has grown while the authority of leaders in state government has atrophied.

Rank-and-file state workers have taken to looking to their union, not their managers, if they want a pay raise.

Workplace performance is secondary to union fidelity, and union bosses liked it that way.

Rauner’s merit pay proposal is modest, but it gives front-line managers a tool to reward workers who do a good job.

That’s how it how works for most of us already.

But AFSCME has said this isn’t “merit pay” but is “political pay” that allows “cronies” to get paid more.

Baloney.

Other unions representing state workers have already agreed to the merit-pay proposal. And we are talking about groups like the Teamsters. They are hardly wusses at the bargaining table.

But not the AFSCME bosses.

They’ve stomped their feet, held their breath and said nothing doing.

One can almost hear the organized labor bigwigs whisper: “Raises should come from union’s efforts – not the workers’.”

AFSCME honchos took an even dimmer view of a Rauner proposal to give bonuses to state workers who use fewer than seven sick days a year.

“The Rauner Administration plan’s new twist is downright discriminatory toward working parents and anyone who gets sick or injured,” AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said in a published account in a political blog.

Of course it’s discriminatory. The idea is that those who actually show up for work ought to earn more than those who don’t.

And the Rauner administration says scheduled time off for surgeries, major illnesses and caring for family members wouldn’t count toward those seven days.

It would just be unscheduled time off.

Anyone who has ever worked in any workplace knows some people abuse sick time, leaving co-workers doing their own jobs and somebody else’s.

Why not reward those doing the work?

To quote Woody Allen, “80 percent of success is showing up.”

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