Move over Gov. Walker, Chris Christie and Rick Perry. A new king of the union busters has emerged in Chicago, of all places. He's a big-city mayor, not a T-Party governor and his plan starts with tax breaks for the corporations and big tax increases on the poor followed up by a legal rip-off of public employee pensions. His only barrier is the unions and Mayor Rahm has already declared war on them, starting with the teachers union.
But even autocrats run into resistance once in a while (Isn't that so, Bloomberg, Duncan, Mubarak?) and Rahm ran into some yesterday when the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board ruled that his arbitrary longer-school-day scheme being imposed on resistant schools violated teachers collective bargaining rights. The Board ruling pushes the state attorney general’s office to seek an injunction against Rahm's assault on teachers who were being made to work longer hours for what amounts to less than minimum wage. The ruling puts a temporary hold on Rahm's waiver strategy of bribing individual schools and teachers to break ranks with their unions. The strategy was already a failed proposition as only 13 schools out of some 470 voted in favor of the contract waiver.
In another disgusting display of journalistic toadyism, two Sun-Times editorials exhort politicians to go after the pension funds as a way to pay for corporate tax breaks ( "To fix state pension mess, cut benefits for employees") and to attack the transit workers union ("For sake of riders, CTA must take on unions").
It’s time for Illinois to get a grip on its monstrous pension problem. And the only viable solution requires public workers and the state to swallow bitter pills: reduced pensions for current employees and mandatory payments by the state to cover the roughly $85 billion it owes for pension benefits already promised.Yes, there's no doubt that the mayor has pulled out all stops and mobilized all his troops in his war on the city's workers. Occupy Chicago!
This solution, in concept, has been pushed for years by the Civic Committee, a Chicago business group, and was embraced by House Minority Leader Tom Cross and House Speaker Michael Madigan in legislation introduced last spring. It could come up in the veto session that begins next week.