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Rift Between Public and Private Unions Offers Opportunity for Reforms

Illinois Policy Institute 9 January 2015 No Comment

“Solidarity” is central to how unions view themselves. The belief that all working men and women share essentially the same aspirations is supposed to run through workers’ blood. And in union lore, when that singleness of purpose is realized, “there can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun.”

But in the real world, conflict between different groups of workers is constant, and one old division – between government employees and private-sector workers, is reopening. Signs of the conflict are easily visible in Illinois, and rifts are opening across the country.


Maybe the most telling sign of a rift between unions in Illinois was the dog that didn’t bark. While government unions spent heavily on an ad campaign – orchestrated through the Illinois Freedom PAC – to back Gov. Pat Quinn, the private-sector unions mainly sat that fight out. The United Food and Commercial Workers did chip in on the Illinois Freedom PAC, but their contribution of $150,000 was dwarfed by nearly $7 million given by American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and Service Employees International Union. There does not appear to have been a private-sector union equivalent to the Freedom PAC, and relatively few unions contributed to Quinn’s campaign directly

Read more at IPI

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