Baumer calls for an end to most government-worker unions
While the bitter battle over a stalled union contract continues in Illinois, one candidate says it's time for municipal unions to go.
Since June 30, 2015, when the municipal contract expired, the state has been trying to reach an agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The 35,000 state employees who are in the union have continued to work without a contract. The state does not have the money to meet the union's demands, which include an 11.5-29 percent wage increase by 2019. The union also wants the state to continue to allow employees to make minimal payments toward the top-of-the-line insurance benefits the state provides. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to freeze wages for the next four years, but offered to include bonuses for employees meeting the minimal standards the state has in place.
"It seems unions are more about getting every penny they can from their employer than they are about serving the best interest of the people they represent," Katy Dolan Baumer, Republican candidate for the 44th District state House seat, told West Cook News.
As a school teacher, Baumer's mother was in a union. When she was the sole bread winner for her small children, her union decided to strike, telling her she was prohibited from crossing the picket line. She had to cross the picket line to work to feed her children. As a result, she was called names and had items thrown at her every day. Baumer questions whether that union was really working for the best interests of its members.
“In today's society, the need for unions is gone," Baumer said. "I think people should work because they want to work or because they need to work, and they should make the best deal they can make.”
Many government employees originally took their jobs because they wanted to serve the people. The union is trying to get money the state does not have to give them, Baumer said. By not compromising when there is a financial crisis, the union is asking the government to take more money from the employees' neighbors, brothers, sisters, mothers and other family members, Baumer said. These people did not take these jobs to become a burden on the people they serve.
Other than firefighters and police officers, most municipal workers shouldn't be part of a union, Baumer said. Most government employees, including firefighters and police officers, took their jobs because they have it in their hearts to serve the people. It seems like the people who negotiate on their behalf forget that, Baumer said.
“It's not fair that they (union officials) are not compromising," Baumer said. "They are not realizing the state of affairs we have at this moment precludes us from making these huge promises that we can't fulfill,”
The contract negotiations may lead to taxes having to be raised, but by stalling the negotiations, more and more people are being added to the plan, creating more debt for the state, Baumer said. The employees need to be paid what they were promised, but the system needs to be reformed so employees can be compensated fairly, but not so that their pay exceeds what the state can provide, Baumer said.