Documents recently provided to AFSCME by an anonymous whistleblower inside state government reveal that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has established a new division dedicated to restricting employees’ rights inside his Department of Central Management Services.
Dubbed the Labor and Employment Advisory Division (LEAD), the group is intended to “gain and maintain control over the workforce,” documents show.
Among the group’s stated goals are to “mitigate external interference with employer-employee relationship” (a bit of management jargon that’s usually code for union-busting) and “implement systems that reward and recognize high performers” (a euphemism for so-called “merit pay” schemes that open the door to favoritism and political influence).
It listed “tactical objectives” include to “invigorate management’s ability to discipline … employees” and “reduce unionization among managers and supervisors.”
The administration has already begun a systematic effort to strip union representation from employees who years ago were found not to be managerial and thus have the legal right to join a union.
On a list of supposed “tools for building a better workforce,” first is “Reinvigorated employee discipline.” Also noted are so-called “merit pay” and “managed competition” (aka privatization) schemes.
Five subsequent pages dated Nov. 2, 2016 list “LEAD lawyers” assigned to each agency of state government.
“These documents reveal Bruce Rauner’s adversarial attitude toward the tens of thousands of state employees who provide vital services to Illinois residents,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “He won’t work toward a budget for priorities like schools and human services, but he’s diverting public resources to intimidate workers and undermine their union rights.
“State workers do difficult jobs, often without adequate resources. They protect kids, respond to emergencies, care for the vulnerable and keep us safe,” Lynch said. “Added to his attempts to freeze their pay and double their health care, the governor’s campaign to silence their voices threatens to create a hostile work environment and drive morale to an all-time low.
“Maybe as a billionaire CEO, Bruce Rauner used bullying tactics to get his way,” Lynch added, “but public service workers are not property to be ‘controlled,’ workplace democracy is not ‘external interference,’ and threats of ‘invigorated discipline’ are the worst possible way to motivate a workforce.”
Rauner later issued a response saying the AFSCME claims are an attempt to distract from the administration’s failed contract talks with the union and that the program is actually “good legal advice on the front end” to reduce litigation risks.
The documents cited can be downloaded from the Council 31 website, afscme31.org.