CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One of Illinois' most powerful union leaders predicted Monday that Gov. Pat Quinn could not win re-election in 2014 "without making peace with labor."
Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, implored Quinn to "pick up the phone" and work out his differences with public-sector unions like AFSCME Council 31, with whom the governor is feuding over pension reforms, wage increases and state facility closures.
Quinn's relations with AFSCME, which gave Quinn $575,000 during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, hit rock bottom at the Illinois State Fair last month when union members hounded him off the podium at Governor's Day.
"The fair was tough. AFSCME, particularly, hasn't gotten their raises. They're embroiled in some very hard contract negotiations. The other public sector [unions] were there en masse. They're just taking it to the governor whenever he's out in public. I've been at some labor day events, or labor day weekend events in Illinois, and no matter where I go, whether it's Belleville or Streator, there's dissatisfaction among labor with how the governor's approaching some things," Carrigan said.
The top union leader said it's not too late for Quinn to patch things up with some of the state's most powerful labor groups, but the clock is ticking and that as things stand now he would not win a second full term.
"I don't know he could win a re-election again without making peace with labor," Carrigan said. "But we're ready. We'll be at the table. All it takes is a phone call. Several of the public sector [unions] are here in Charlotte. We can even put that meeting together here if they were so inclined. But the phone call has got to come."
Quinn did hear praise from one top labor leader at the morning breakfast of Illinois delegates attending the Democratic National Convention.
Ron McElroy, director United Auto Workers, Region 4, called Quinn his union's "friend" for his work in bolstering the state's three auto-manufacturing plans and encouraging them to add thousands of new jobs.
"I have nine states that I deal with all the time, and I have one governor that I deal with," McElroy said. "It's Pat Quinn because I know when I call his office, I know we'll get an answer. I know we'll get things worked on. Is it everything we want? No. Is it everything he can deliver, I think so."