Sleeping at desk, racist comments and threatening to throw a co-worker out the window: Illinois state worker reprimands shed light on patronage-driven culture
Illinois state workers seeking to negotiate a new contact with the state don’t just want more money; they want less accountability.
According to their collective bargaining agreement, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME), the largest public employee union in Illinois can miss 11 days of work, unexcused, before being fired.
How does this really work in practice?
Last month, the Sangamon Sun filed a Freedom of Information Act with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) for all employee reprimands issued year-to-date.
In total, 30 of 3,584 CMS employees were reprimanded from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 for various transgressions.
• 15 received a written or oral warning, or “counseling”
• 12 were suspended from work
• Three were fired
What does it take to get fired as an AFSCME worker?
One state employee told another he was going to “smack him in the mouth.” A second chronically skipped work or left early, at least 11 times, per the AFSCME contract. The third took a leave of absence and simply didn’t return. He didn’t write or call, either. Just never showed back up at the office.
Among 12 suspensions issued this year, five were for unauthorized absences from work. The other seven came for making personal phone calls during work hours, storing a personal car on state property, being involved with “possible” theft of state property, sending inappropriate emails to one’s supervisor, insubordination in failing to process a payment, and physically threatening fellow co-workers.
One CMS employee was suspended for 30 days, when, after being turned down for a promotion, he said “the situation that happened in (California) needs to happen to four employees here.”
The remarks came a day after an Islamic terrorist killed 14 of his co-workers in San Bernardino, California.
A second CMS employee earned a 30-day suspension for “dropping f-bombs,” going on a “rant” and threatening to throw a co-worker out of a window because somebody “used the wrong (appropriations) line.”
The majority of reprimands only earned oral or written warnings, including for outbursts of foul language, sleeping at one’s desk, making racist comments, and taking home a paper shredder for the weekend.