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Victory over Rauner in Illinois Was Proof of AFSCME’s Strength

Photo by John Gress/Getty Images
Victory over Rauner in Illinois Was Proof of AFSCME’s Strength

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Briefly put, this is Gov. Bruce Rauner’s legacy with the working families of Illinois.

Rauner became governor in 2015, after spending $26 million of his own money on the race, vowing to defeat public service workers and their unions. He was a bully, and he picked a needless fight with tens of thousands of public service workers across the state. He believed he could easily win, using his own money and that of wealthy special interests. It was a war of money versus numbers, and we had the numbers.

Within his first month in office, Rauner signed an executive order to stop the collection of union dues from workers’ paychecks. He was the original plaintiff in the lawsuit that became Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

Contract negotiations with his representatives soon reached an impasse and Rauner seemed determined to drag out the fight, expecting AFSCME members to lose faith in their union and bow out.

But we stuck together and, as a result, we are now stronger than ever.

In this year’s gubernatorial race, AFSCME Council 31 endorsed J.B. Pritzker and AFSCME members worked hard to ensure his victory. Pritzker went on to decisively defeat Rauner with more than 54 percent of the vote to Rauner’s 39 percent during Tuesday’s elections.

Pritzker has vowed to "restore the respect that public-sector workers deserve.”

“I will defend collective-bargaining rights for our unions and protect hard-earned pensions," he said.

AFSCME looks forward to working with Pritzker on a new contract with state employees, improving public services and restoring the trust that working families deserve in their elected officials.

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