Now that AFSCME employees are receiving back pay for step increases, with interest to follow soon, let’s have a round of applause for Rep. Tim Butler for this overdue largesse. Some might think Mr. Butler spent the last four years defending the indefensible union-busting efforts of former governor Bruce Rauner for no good reason.

Not true. The real agenda of the politically astute Mr. Butler was to see that AFSCME employees statewide benefitted financially in exchange for sometimes wondering if their jobs were in jeopardy. His goal was to turn this angst into a blessing in disguise. Mr. Butler recognized that the extra income, the 7% interest compounded annually for three-plus years, would be spent to enhance numerous local economies.

The total amount of the interest to be paid is unknown. A spokeswoman for the comptroller’s office said each agency will calculate the interest. At least one AFSCME steward has made a conservative estimate of eight figures. Whether or not that figure is borne out, the fact remains the money could have been used for any number of state expenses, such as pension payments.

Moreover, don’t forget the thousands of dollars spent on attorneys who were absent from labor law classes at law school, especially when the subject was unfair labor practices –  an issue on which they lacked any substantive victory in court.

Note to Mr. Butler and the other spineless Republicans who could have ended the protracted contract negotiations and unfair labor practices suit early on: Next time, vote for binding arbitration legislation.
Pat Harrison
AFSCME member


Compromise, as much as any other word, describes the foundation of our government. A bicameral legislative branch with one house representing the voters and one house representing the states was a compromise.

Unfortunately, we no longer compromise. Instead of finding a solution to our problems and finding a common path we lurch down the road jerking from side to side, first to one shoulder and then the other, depending on which party holds the upper hand.

Gerrymandering is the process of drawing district maps to ensure one party’s candidate has the upper hand in an election. The process has gotten so accurate a candidate plays to the base to get the party’s nomination then moves slightly to the center to win the general, if he or she has an opponent. Races are decided in the primaries. In the general election the far left and far right get to vote for the candidate of choice, while the rest of us are left with a choice of the lesser of two evils.

This is a nationwide problem. Every map in every district – federal, state and local – that is drawn by one party or the other is skewed in favor of the controlling party.

In Sangamon County, mention gerrymandering to anyone and the first thing mentioned will be Mike Madigan and the Chicago machine. Yet these very same people have no problem with our county government being skewed by the GOP. The Sangamon County Board is Republican by a 24 to 5 margin. Do you think there are 83 Republicans for every 17 Democrats in Sangamon County? It’s highly unlikely.

If you think this is okay because you agree with the party in control, then don’t complain when you don’t. It’s so bad most districts only have one candidate. That’s not good for democracy. We must insist every map in every district is drawn fairly with no regard to party affiliation. If we don’t, we might as well let the parties pick the officeholders. We’re almost there now.

We no longer have government by compromise. The extremes in both parties get what they can, while they can. We need to make politicians fear the voters. We need maps drawn for the voters, not for the candidates.
Scott Saunders

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