Strick: AFSCME is being unreasonable
Negotiations between the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and his administration have resulted in a standstill in which neither side has agreed on a resolution.
A state labor board judge, Judge Sarah Kerley, recently declared that while contract talks are at a standstill, it has yet to reach an impasse and therefore Rauner cannot impose his final offer to the union to either be accepted or declined.
Mike Strick, the Republican candidate for state House in District 84, said AFSCME is being unreasonable, especially in light of the state’s financial crisis.
“I feel that AFSCME is out of touch with what is happening in Illinois; with so many companies leaving Illinois, with so many people leaving Illinois — the mass outflow of jobs,” Strick told DuPage Policy Journal. “For them to continuously come at the taxpayers, wanting more and more from us. As a taxpayer, I’m saying, ‘Where is my comp? I’d like the same kind of deal.'”
Strick, who owns a small business in Naperville, also said the union's demands are impractical.
“It’s just disingenuous that they keep asking for more and more,” Strick said. “One of the demands is that they want to only work 37 and a half hours a week. I think that is just ludicrous. What manufacturing or sales business does that type of thing?”
The union has requested increased wages, a shorter work week, increased health benefits, and better pensions for state workers. Rauner has estimated those demands would cost taxpayers an additional $3 billion in wage and benefit increases.
Strick agreed with the governor, declaring those demands cannot be justified at a time of high unemployment and job losses.
“Right now, we are in a time of declining jobs rates,” he said. “That’s one of the things I want to change. I want to be pro-business and bring more businesses into Illinois.”
The AFSCME’s response for how to fund its demands was to ask the state to raises taxes. Strick said taxpayers are already stretched thin.
“We’re already being taxed out of our homes,” he said. “When my mortgage payment is the same as my property tax payment or my tax payment is going to be more than my mortgage payment, there is a problem."
He traced the origins of these problems to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
“The problems are traced back to Mike Madigan and his cronies and all the sweetheart deals he is trying to pass onto the unsuspecting taxpayers,” Strick said. “In my district, I’m letting the people know what is going on.”
Strick said that voters are disheartened about the state’s situation. They have told him that they are either moving to a different state or they see no changes.
“I tell them I’m running to make change,” Strick said. “I’m running so that Illinois can be a great state again; so that we can start bringing these manufacturing plants back to Illinois instead of going to (states like) Indiana. The more businesses and people that we lose, the more burden is placed on the people that stay.”
He has one thing to say to the politicians in Springfield who have stood idle as the state struggled: “Shame on them.”
Another shameful situation the state faces is the teachers’ pension debt. Taxpayers are expected to pay $421 million more for teachers' pension because the state has stalled in payments.
Strick, who has spoken with several teachers about the problem, said that educators deserve their pensions but there needs to be a change to the system in the future.
“There needs to be a future date, whether it be in 2020 or 2040, where we go to a defined pension program so that all the people in the system could work their way out and we go to a 401(k)-style system for them just like the private sector,” he said. “The teachers agree with me and they know the pension is in trouble and it could go bankrupt. If we could change the system, I think it would solve a lot of the problems.”
Solving the state’s problems is Strick's main objective as he waits for November. He has been campaigning in his district every day, passing out over 200 yard signs and knocking on hundreds of doors. He said he believes that the message is resonating. It is exhausting work — he has lost 10 to 12 pounds — but for Strick, getting the message out is vital.
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