* There has never been a statewide AFSCME strike in Illinois. The Tribune spells out what the law says about the issue…
First, the governor’s office must declare that negotiations have reached an impasse. Both sides say at this point, that hasn’t happened.
Should that happen, however, the administration could then try to impose the terms of its “best and final” offer. The union has the right to appeal that move to the Illinois Labor Relations Board to dispute the declaration of an impasse. The governor has a bit of a home court advantage because he appoints the panel.
If the board were to side with the union, talks would resume. The board also could agree with the administration that negotiations are deadlocked. Such a decision would force the union to put the contract up for a vote. The options: go along with the governor’s final offer or strike. The union would have to give the state five days notice before walking off the job.
It’ll be a while.
* The paper also looked at pay and benefits…
Quinn’s office distributes a chart that attempts to paint Illinois union workers as higher paid than their counterparts in other states. But the document features just nine other states, and the administration won’t explain its methodology, so it’s unclear whether it is making an apples-to-apples comparison.
Meanwhile, union spokesman Anders Lindall tried to frame the debate by suggesting that increasing wages to keep pace with the cost of living would cost less than $1 a month per person in Illinois. But that math doesn’t take into account that not everyone in the state pays taxes. […]
The administration says an individual worker pays $564 to $1,014 a year in premiums, with copays as low as $15. The cheapest plan is in line with other states, with the national average for an individual state worker policy coming to about $563, according to a study released this year by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
By comparison, private sector employees paid on average $1,127 a year in individual health care premiums in 2010, the most recent year available. As such, the governor wants state workers to pay more in health care premiums and copays.
* The paper also editorialized about a bill passed in May that allows the governor to set retiree health care insurance premiumus…
…the new law authorized the state to charge retirees, but lawyers for Gov. Pat Quinn say they have to negotiate an agreement on that with the state’s largest public employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Those negotiations have been dragging on for months with no end in sight.
Can’t the state now impose a premium charge for retirees? Quinn’s legal team says retiree health care has been a mandatory subject of collective bargaining since 1997, when then-Gov. Jim Edgar put the issue on the table. The lawyers say the state cannot start charging retirees for health care costs without AFSCME’s blessing. You can guess where AFSCME stands. The state’s largest public employee union has no intention of giving up one of the cushiest benefits the state offers.
When the bill passed, Madigan said the state is not obligated to provide free health care to retired workers. He made that clear several times on the House floor.
“I think it’s pretty well agreed, by everybody who’s working on these issues, that in the case of retiree health insurance there is no contractual relationship. There is no contractual obligation on the part of the state to continue to provide that health insurance. Said differently, the state is in a position to discontinue it at any time,” he said.
* Pension experts divided over Nekritz-Biss plan