AFSCME Plans Rally As Contract Talks Drag On

Dec 10, 2015
Originally published on December 10, 2015 2:05 pm

The state's largest public employee union remains at odds with Governor Rauner's administration on a new contract.  

Negotiators for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees have been meeting with the governor's staff about twice a month since the summer.  But AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says there's been little movement toward a deal.  

"It shouldn't take this long.  And this cloud of uncertainty shouldn't continue to hang over the heads of the men and women who serve our community every day," he said.

The terms of the previous contract remain in place, so workers are still getting paid with benefits. 

Lindall says the governor's demands for a wage freeze, health care changes and potential privatization of state services are "extreme". 

The Rauner administration sent the following response:

Statement: Families in Central Illinois and across the state are hurting under the 12 years of one-party rule, which has led to a $5 billion structural deficit and the worst credit rating of any state in the country. The status quo cannot continue, and Governor Rauner has proposed a number of reforms to help the next generation, which will free up resources to help balance the budget and protect our most vulnerable. However, the super majority in the legislature continues to block our reforms at the expense of middle-class families.

Due to the state’s fiscal crisis, every layer of state government must be evaluated, which includes the employment contracts with state employees. The administration continues to bargain in good faith to reach a new contract with AFSCME that include proposals similar to those reached by the Teamsters and trade unions. The contracts reached with those 17 other unions contain provisions that other states have had for years, like a 40-hour work week, bonuses for exceptional performance and cost savings, provisions to improve the competitiveness of state services, and restrictions on overtime abuse. In our year of negotiations, we have seen very little progress and few concessions from AFSCME, but will continue to work to get a deal that is fair to both state employees and taxpayers.

Lindall responded by saying that AFSCME's situation can't be compared to other unions that have worked out deals.  For example, he says most of those unions have their own health plans, giving members an option beyond the state's offering.  

"If you don't have to worry about negotiating health insurance, that's very different," he said. 

A week of union rallies across the state wraps up Thursday night with events in Collinsville and at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.  

 

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