The REAL IPI: Illinois Policy Institute bashes public employees non-stop 18, 2018

The Illinois Policy Institute suddenly claims to be incredibly concerned about the well-being of Illinois workers. They say that’s why their legal arm is backing the Janus lawsuit against AFSCME Council 31. But why would an organization that’s been beating up on public workers since its founding suddenly decide to champion their rights?

Hmm… something doesn’t smell right here.

Who is the Illinois Policy Institute, really? Well, let’s review the facts.

The IPI:

  • Called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to “lay off the entire state workforce and close the pension system.”
  • Said state employees should take a 27% pay cut because “Illinois government workers are costing the state dearly” with “inflated pay” and “egregious perks”.
  • Pushed for huge hikes in health costs for state and university employees and retirees.
  • Took more than half a million dollars in funding from Bruce Rauner‘s foundation.
  • Argued that “the Illinois Supreme Court can and should change its interpretation of the pension protection clause” or that voters should “end the pension protection clause through a constitutional amendment.”
  • Said that “a government shutdown might be exactly what Illinois needs.”
  • Supported privatization, calling Sandy Springs, Georgia, “an example of efficiency for Illinois and the rest of the country” because it has privatized all government services except police and fire.
  • Attacked state employees’ union contract because it provides for paid holidays and a fair disciplinary process.
  • Used its litigation arm, the Liberty Justice Center, to take Rauner’s lawsuit—Janus v. AFSCME Council 31—to the Supreme Court to have fair share deemed unconstitutional.

After reading the facts, our sniff test results are clear: The well-being of workers is the very last thing the Illinois Policy Institute cares about.

As AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said, the real IPI is “a shadowy, billionaire-backed front group that calls itself a ‘think tank’” but is actually single-mindedly devoted to dismantling the very organization that has helped workers improve their lives—public sector unions.

The IPI and Bruce Rauner share an agenda: Attack working people—strip their rights, drive down their wages, wipe out their unions and destroy the labor movement.

A massive anti-union campaign

IPI CEO John Tillman and Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2014
Photo by Mark Weyermuller

The IPI is currently giddy because they are counting on the Supreme Court’s pro-corporate, anti-union majority to ban public sector unions from collecting fees from represented employees who are not members—creating national “right-to-work” for the public sector.

The State Policy Network, to which the Illinois Policy Institute belongs, has hailed the Janus case as a “mortal blow” against public employee unions.

To help it along, the IPI is laying the groundwork for a massive outreach campaign in which they will contact every public employee in Illinois to encourage them to drop out of their union—letters have already started landing in AFSCME members’ mailboxes.

The IPI is claiming they’re actually helping employees by letting them know that the union will have to represent them—and they’ll still benefit from the union’s gains—whether they’re members or not.

But again, their assertions don’t pass the smell test. If the IPI can get thousands of teachers, nurses, correctional officers, sanitation workers, social workers, clerical workers and other public employees to drop their union membership, then unions will be starved of resources and won’t be able to make any gains for anyone.

What the Illinois Policy Institute fails to say is that if enough members quit the union, there will no longer be a union. And that’s exactly what Rauner and the Illinois Policy Institute really want.

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