AFSCME sends anti-Rahm messages to members

February 16, 2011 5:13:19 PM PST
A powerful labor union representing government workers in Chicago is stepping up its offensive against mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel. They believe an Emanuel TV commercial slammed their work ethic.

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has 20,000 members who live in Chicago. Most are presumed eligible for vote in next week's mayoral election.

AFSCME is not endorsing any candidate for mayor. But the I-Team has learned that the union is making a very public anti-endorsement.

When a TV spot ran proclaiming that under an Emanuel administration public employees would be put in their places as public servants, AFSCME went on the offensive.

"AFSCME members are very disappointed at some of the rhetoric from the front runner Rahm Emanuel," said Anders Lindell, AFSCME Council 31.

And so not only have union leaders begun to take on front-runner Emanuel on their website, the I-Team has learned that AFSCME has begun a robo call campaign-against Mr. Emanuel, with recorded anti-Rahm messages being phoned to the thousands of AFSCME members in Chicago.

It's a call that says we're calling from your union to make you aware of the city election coming up on February 22nd, and talking about those services that our members provided particularly during blizzard that is so fresh in people's minds," said Lindell.

"So it was very incongruous that in the immediate aftermath of that storm, that Rahm Emanuel was up with a television commercial attacking city employees, impugning their integrity and trying to discredit them for his own political gain. That was disturbing to our members," he went on to say. "At the conclusion of the call it says that although Emanuel is the front runner, he's not won yet, and if we vote together we can impact this election."

Lindell continued, "No union can tell its members how to vote, and we wouldn't to tell our members how to vote, but we can provide them with information that they can use to make their decision.

Union leaders say Emanuel's public worker sentiments as expressed in the TV commercial are just a "public stunt."

"That's not what this spot is about," stated Emanuel campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt on Wednesday night.

"Rahm honors the good work of our and women in uniform and praised the city employees who helped dig us out of this week's blizzard. It's clear that some in Chicago city government have acted on behalf of their own personal gain, rather than in the interest of taxpayers," LaBolt told the I-Team in an email. "Rahm believes it's time for that to change in the interest of the taxpayers of the city of Chicago."


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