The state's largest government employee union is making noise about going on strike.
Just why they are considering a strike depends on who you believe.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees would have you think that Gov. Pat Quinn is a horrible ogre out to oppress working people.
It's an interesting description when you consider that for most of Quinn's long political career he has been known as a labor advocate, and just two short years ago AFSCME endorsed him for governor.
Quinn, legislative leaders and others contend the union is just being oblivious to reality.
That's because Illinois' pensions are underfunded to the tune of $96 billion, it has a backlog of $9.3 billion in unpaid bills and the worst credit rating in the nation.
Administration officials say the union keeps demanding more when there isn't more to be had.
Over the years, I've learned to give little credence to what's trickling out of collective bargaining negotiations.
Both sides have an agenda after all.
And just what is said behind closed doors is anyone's guess.
That, of course, raises an important question: Why do governing bodies have negotiations with government employee unions behind closed doors?
After all, taxpayers will be footing the bill for whatever is agreed upon in those negotiations. Shouldn't we know what is being discussed before it's agreed upon?
Even lawmakers are left in the dark about what's happening in negotiations.
In fact, legislators never even get a voice in labor contracts. The governor can act on his own and simply sign an agreement before voters have been able to weigh in.
But we aren't the only ones kept in the dark.
So are rank-and-file union members.
Often they are dependent on whatever information their union bosses spoon feed them during negotiations.
Why not open up negotiations for newspapers, policy groups and the general public to hear what is said?
After all, Quinn has long considered himself to be an advocate of open government.
Why should we be dependent on whatever politicians and union bosses choose to share out of those collective bargaining sessions?
"Why should this all happen behind closed doors?" said state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton. "If the public only knew what was happening they could put pressure on elected officials not to give so much. Right now, there really isn't a public discussion on these contracts."
Tentative union contracts should be posted online so workers, taxpayers and others can provide input before an agreement is finalized.
Even now, on the brink of a strike, we are dependent on second- or third-hand accounts of what's happening in labor negotiations.
For example, the Associated Press said that AFSCME tells them Quinn initially sought significant wage reductions; now he wants workers to accept a multiyear wage freeze while accepting concessions in health insurance coverage.
What are the details of concessions being sought? What would the cost to the taxpayers be? Who stands to gain? Who stands to lose?
We don't know. We are left depending on whatever trickles out from the closed-door meetings.
Now with the state teetering on the cusp of a government worker strike, we the people of Illinois deserve to know what issues separate labor and management.
After all, we will be the ones footing the bill.
Scott Reeder is the journalist in residence at the Illinois Policy Institute.