SRINGFIELD-The public-sector union endorsements keep coming for state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who Wednesday picked up the backing of union with the highest concentration of state workers.
AFSCME Council 31 announced on its website that it intends to back Dillard in his four-way Republican gubernatorial primary.
“We believe that Kirk Dillard would be the best choice in the Republican primary because he has a long record of public service and a demonstrated understanding of state government. He rejects the demonization of public employees – correctional officers, caretakers for those with disabilities, and thousands of others who provide the vital public services that Illinois citizens demand," said Henry Bayer, the union's executive director, in a prepared statement.
Bayer also took a shot at frontrunner Bruce Rauner, who has vowed to weaken what he has said is the grip "union bosses" have over state government.
“On the other hand, his primary opponent Bruce Rauner is a billionaire CEO with no experience and little understanding of state government. He calls himself a ‘political outsider’ but has a long record of political cronyism and questionable business deals," Bayer said. “Rauner asserts that state and other public employees have no legitimate voice in state government while claiming he would run the state ‘like a business’. Illinois citizens would be ill-served by turning over its veterans’ homes and mental health facilities to someone who sought to squeeze profits out of hundreds of nursing homes that were subsequently plagued by millions of dollars in verdicts from wrongful death and patient-neglect lawsuits."
Bayer told his membership that it is "critically important" that they support Dillard and help defeat Rauner on March 18th.
For Dillard, this amounts to a near clean sweep of the most influential public-sector unions in Springfield. Last week, he was endorsed by the Illinois Federation of Teachers. And before that, he had backing from the Illinois Education Association.
Dillard voted against legislation in December that would cut pension benefits and that was favored by Gov. Pat Quinn as a means to solve the state's $100 billion pension crisis.
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