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Quinn Links DCFS Layoffs to Prison Plan; AFSCME Protests

By Chris Bentley in News on Sep 22, 2012 4:15PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel isn’t the only Illinois politician at odds with organized labor these days. Governor Pat Quinn was the target of a rally this week at the Thompson Center, in which hundreds of union members called on Quinn to stop 400 layoffs set for the Department of Children and Family Services.

Members of AFSCME Local 2081 brandished dolls they said symbolized the children who will bear the burden of lost jobs in the department’s intact family services division, which provides caseworkers to keep at-risk children in their homes while their parents receive counseling. The state budget cut nearly $90 million from DCFS, forcing the layoffs.

Workers use the dolls to demonstrate abuse while on the job. But on the picket line they may have represented mistreatment by the governor, who has shifted blame for the firings onto the union for opposing his plan to close prisons and shunt $57 million in savings back to DCFS.

Quinn needs legislative approval to close the prisons, but lawmakers won’t meet again to consider the issue until after Oct. 1 — the date DCFS layoffs are slated to occur. When the new session starts Nov. 27, the House and Senate will vote either to approve Quinn’s cuts or, more likely, override his decision.

The governor has expressed solidarity for striking laborers before, but his strained relationship with AFSCME has left some on the left feeling betrayed.