Organized labor is planning a "rally" in Springfield tomorrow in which 15,000 members of labor unions will gather around the Statehouse in what is being called the "largest street demonstration that Springfield has ever seen." Streets will be blocked off; and traffic will be shut down. The labor union members are reportedly "angry" with our elected officials - and want them to raise taxes so that more money can be spent on workers: money for road construction, money for teachers, money for all.
The rally, which threatens to paralyze the Statehouse and prevent legislators from doing their business, will be defended as an exercise in free speech. And in a way it is. But the speech that will be heard is not: "We need to improve our roads and schools." The speech that will be heard is: "Enough already with the talk about reforms and budget cuts - about accountability and efficiency. Extract billions more from the taxpayers, and transfer them to us. If you do not, then you can forget about more labor PAC money. You can forget about our help on election day. Indeed, starting this afternoon we will work against you - we will work for your opponent ... and you will be history. See if you can find a job in the private sector where you get the kind of perks you get here - where you get the fat pension, and the office expense account, and the daily per diems."
This is a massive threat. It is not subtle. It is aimed at elected officials in both parties. It sends a blunt message: Raise taxes and pay us. Or else.
This group calls itself the "Responsible Budget Coalition." That's like the Jesse James gang calling itself the "Financial Institutions Protective Association."