* 5:34 pm - I’ve been working on this for the past couple of hours. Nobody from either side has either been available or has wanted to talk until now. From AFSCME…
QUINN ADMINISTRATION TERMINATES UNION CONTRACT
In an unprecedented step, Governor Pat Quinn’s administration late today terminated state government’s contract with its largest employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31.
“In 40 years of collective bargaining, Pat Quinn is the first and only Illinois governor to terminate a union contract,” AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer said. “His actions will heighten employee frustration, provoke instability in the workplace and make settling a contract more difficult.”
AFSCME has been in negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement for nearly a year. Scheduled to expire last June 30, the previous contract’s terms had since been extended by mutual agreement of the parties. But following a bargaining session with a federal mediator in Springfield today, the Quinn administration rejected a further extension offered by the union.
Terminating the contract has little immediate practical effect, as all existing terms and conditions of employment remain in place under state law. But it signals the Quinn Administration’s lack of respect for the collective bargaining process.
“While AFSCME is committed to reaching a fair agreement, Pat Quinn seems bent on heading in the wrong direction,” AFSCME director Bayer said. “Our union wants constructive engagement but the governor is choosing confrontation instead.”
AFSCME Council 31 represents 40,000 men and women who work for the State of Illinois. AFSCME-represented state employees care for veterans and the disabled, help struggling families, protect children from abuse, maintain safe prisons and much more.
No word yet on what might happen next. Stay tuned.
* 5:47 pm - The Quinn administration’s response via Abdon M. Pallasch. Asst. Budget Director…
After 11 months of bargaining, we informed AFSCME’s leadership Tuesday that there will be no more extensions of their contract that expired in June.
Governor Quinn has cut state spending down to 2008 levels and proposed closing empty or half-empty, very expensive state facilities that are no longer needed. After decades of mismanagement, he state is behind on $8 billion dollars of payments to vendors including social service agencies. And the state’s pension shortfall has risen to $96 billion – the worst of the 50 states.
During 11 months of bargaining, the state has extended the contract three times and made significant efforts to compromise. But the government employees union, which has not offered a single proposal to deal with retirement health care, continues to seek millions of dollars in pay hikes the taxpayers can’t afford to give them. It has refused to recognize the extraordinary financial crisis squeezing the state.
* 5:53 pm - The next bargaining session is not until December 11th.