CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gov. Pat Quinn plans his own "salute" to unions Monday night at the Democratic National Convention, but the reception he gets may wind up being a compelling storyline on Labor Day.
Quinn was hounded off the stage last month at his Illinois State Fair rally by members of AFSCME Council 31, the union representing the largest bloc of state workers that is protesting his plans to reel in public-employee pensions and state facility closures.
The governor, who will host a salute to labor event Monday night that aides said won't be open to reporters, insisted Sunday that he is a friend of organized labor despite all of the acrimony aimed his direction by AFSCME and teachers unions.
"I was just with the...United Auto Workers. They organize not only our auto plants in Illinois -- we have three of them -- but they also organize Caterpillar and John Deere," Quinn told reporters Sunday evening. "They're pretty happy with my leadership."
The governor said he also is on good terms with trade unions that have benefited from the state's $43 billion capital program.
"As far as teachers go, I believe in education, and I think one way to have more money for education is to reform the pension system. I've told that to every public employee, and some of the members of the government employees union...may not like to hear that, but we have to tell them the truth."