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.