SPRINGFIELD - Since eighty percent of the voting AFSCME state employees authorized their bargaining committee to go on strike if Governor Rauner doesn't agree to their demands, can Illinois taxpayers expect the governor to "PATCO" the strikers?
... As in what President Ronald Reagan did when 11,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization refused to return to work in 1981?
That's a question Public Affairs' Jeff Berkowitz posed to Mr. Rauner last week:
Jeff Berkowitz: If AFSCME goes out on strike, would you PATCO the State employees- remember Reagan did that [hired new air traffic controllers when their union went out on Strike], would you do the same thing?
Gov. Rauner: What I will say is—the strike is not the right thing, we should implement our new contract. We are prepared, if a strike were to occur, we are prepared to keep essential government services running, but the right thing to do is to implement our new contract.
"We are prepared to keep essential government services running ..." and that will take non-union workers to pull off.
But Berkowitz' question wasn't that far afield. It was Bruce Rauner as the 2014 IL GOP candidate for governor that first brought up the idea of firing striking workers as President Reagan did, and warned about "rough times" ahead.
"I apologize. We may have to go through rough times," Rauner said at the Republican dinner. "We may have to do what Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers. Sort of have to do a do-over and shut things down for a little while. That's what we're gonna do."
Is that what Rauner is planning for public employees?