By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

AFSCME just gave House Speaker Mike Madigan a $768,000 campaign donation. The union’s contribution to the Speaker appears to be the largest-ever donation from AFSCME to Madigan, according to the Illinois News Network.

Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown calls the campaign contribution “tradition.” But don’t let that fool you. It’s more than just typical financial support. It’s insurance. AFSCME is safeguarding new benefits for members after years of deadlocked negotiations with Gov. Bruce Rauner. The union’s last contract expired in June of 2015.

AFSCME’s original proposal included worker salary raises ranging from 11.5 to 29 percent, a 37.5-hour workweek, five weeks of vacation and enhanced health care coverage. In all, AFSCME’s demands are worth $3 billion in additional benefits when compared to Gov. Rauner’s original offer.

A now more-than-likely Pritzker governorship means the union will have a sympathetic executive that will agree to those demands. So the three-quarters-of-a-million dollars AFSCME has contributed is a small price to pay for the billions in extra benefits they’ll extract from taxpayers.

That should infuriate Illinoisans considering just how much in benefits AFSCME workers already get. 

1. Guaranteed raises

AFSCME salaries have grown four times faster in the last decade than the earnings of ordinary Illinoisans.

Between 2005 and 2015, ordinary Illinoisans earnings grew only 11 percent, half the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, state AFSCME salaries grew more than 40 percent over the same period.

AFSCME workers get raises in good times and bad thanks to the long-term contracts they negotiate with the state. In contrast, Illinoisans have to make do with less even as they are stuck paying AFSCME workers more.

2. The nation’s top pay

Illinois state workers are the 2nd-highest paid in the nation after adjusting for cost-of-living. Only New Jersey pays its state workers more than Illinois does.

On average, Illinois state workers get paid 28 percent more than Wisconsin state workers and 40 percent more than state workers in Indiana.

3. Heavily subsidized healthcare

Illinoisans subsidize nearly $15,000, or 77 percent, of state worker annual health care costs. In Obamacare terms, state workers are paying bronze prices for platinum-level health care benefits. And taxpayers are picking up the difference.

4. Free retiree health insurance

Workers with 20-plus years of service get free health insurance during retirement. That’s worth $200,000 to $500,000 per retiree. Nobody in the private sector gets free retiree health insurance. According to state pension records, nearly 75 percent of current state retirees qualify for free retiree healthcare.

5. Generous pensions benefits

Retirees who spent their careers working for the state will collect $1.8 million in total pension benefits during their retirement. On top of that, almost all state workers are enrolled in Social Security, so they’ll get benefits from that, too.

The total cost of state workers

Add up all the compensation AFSCME employees get in a year – salary, overtime, healthcare benefits, future pension and health insurance benefits  – and the average state worker costs Illinoisans nearly $110,000 a year.

That’s the annual cost of maintaining Madigan’s “middle class.” And it comes at the expense of Illinoisans in the private sector who are struggling to get by with stagnant incomes, higher taxes and increasing healthcare costs.

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Mike xyz
1 year ago

The $768,000 campaign donation from the AFSCME Council 31 PAC is the largest ever single expenditure from the PAC to any candidate, ever. However that amount was exceeded in two expenditures from the AFSCME Council 31 PAC in 2014 which totaled $830,000 to an “Independent Expenditure Only PAC” (so classified by the IL State Board of Elections) named the Illinois Freedom PAC, which opposed Rauner for Governor. Looking at incoming receipts to the AFSCME Council 31 PAC, in a one year period, from September 26, 2017 to September 18, 2018, the PAC reported receiving $3,397,500 from AFSCME Illinois Political Account… Read more »

1 year ago
Reply to  Mike xyz

The Illinois Freedom PAC was pretty much a 12 month, $8M public sector union project. Seems like chump change these days.

Mike xyz
1 year ago
Reply to  nixit

It is not unusual for Independent Expenditure Only PACs to be used for a single campaign cycle. $8M in contributions or $8M in expenditures is not a trivial, small, or insignificant amount in the 2018 Illinois Governor’s race even with the amounts currently being contributed to and expended by the current Pritzker and Rauner PACs. This from yesterday’s Chicago Tribune. “Just in the past three-month period — from July 1 to the end of September — the two main candidates spent a combined $74.1 million on the general election contest. Pritzker spent $47.4 million, or more than a half-million dollars… Read more »

Mike xyz
1 year ago

The cost to the taxpayer for that AFSCME employee is greater than the compensation due to the unfunded pension liability.

Thus this employee is costing the taxpayers more than is reflected in the chart.

1 year ago

Why don’t SunTimes or Tribune put stories like this on page A-1 every day, so the voters will rise up and vote for their OWN pocketbooks ?
Absolutely GREAT article, Ted & John. If anything, it probably understates the real value of the pension, spread over working career…which would add more to the ~ $110,000 Total Compensation figure.

1 year ago

Wow pritzker might have to income tax retirees pension and other income to pay for this! That’s the only group somewhat safe anymore.

1 year ago

This is exactly why it’s time to put the house on the market. When you add in all the problems without ANY reform other than increasing taxes then everyone needs to put on their thinking caps and realize you should just move to IN or WI. Go ahead and allow IL to implode and then comeback in 5 years when you will buyback your house at a fraction of the price. It’s so unfair what is happening in this state to all the tax payers who are all going to loose so much so soon.