* A good example of the tension between AFSCME and Gov. Pat Quinn…
About 1,500 unionized workers at the Illinois Department of Transportation and other agencies received raises last month, even though their union is still negotiating a new contract with the state.
The workers, members of General Teamsters/Professional & Technical Employees Local 916, received 3 percent wage increases Jan. 1, Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration confirmed.
The raises were awarded even though the contract covering the workers expired June 30 and a new agreement has not been negotiated. The Teamster raises were awarded at the same time as negotiations with the largest state employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, have ground to a halt and the union has advised members to prepare for the possibility of a strike.
Abdon Pallasch, spokesman for Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget office, said there is a different climate surrounding negotiations with the Teamsters.
“With the Teamsters, productive bargaining continues,” Pallasch said. “In AFSCME, negotiations continue, but it’s been our argument all along that they really haven’t made many meaningful concessions.” […]
Although the Teamsters contract expired June 30, the same time as AFSCME’s contract, Pallasch said it has been renewed through April.
* And the union is meeting with members…
Rank-and-file members of the state’s largest employee union packed a conference room in a state office building Wednesday to hear the latest update on stalled contract talks.
With the possibility looming of a strike by 40,000 members of the state workforce, the hour-long session was among dozens being held around the state in recent days by members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. […]
On Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn, who terminated the state’s contract with AFSCME in November, told reporters he hopes to avert a walkout.
“We’re negotiating. Everybody understands it’s a tough time economically for our state. I’m hopeful that we can get a good agreement that’s good for the taxpayers and good for the workers who work so hard for the public,” the governor said at an event in Springfield. […]
The governor said Wednesday that he has not told top aides to begin preparing for the possibility of a work stoppage. But, he said the state will be ready if a strike is called.
Premium-free health insurance for retired state workers is not a protected pension benefit, lawyers for the state argued in court Wednesday.
As a result, they said four lawsuits challenging a state law imposing such premiums should be dismissed.
Attorneys trying to overturn the law said the benefit is protected.
“The constitution prohibits the state from welshing on deals with its employees,” said Springfield attorney John Myers.
A ruling in the case is not expected for several weeks.
* And despite the criticism, I don’t think the governor meant what some think he meant…
Gov. Pat. Quinn said Wednesday that a long-awaited early inmate release program is starting “right now.”
“We’re carrying it out right now,” Quinn told reporters during a news conference in Springfield. “We had to follow the blueprint that’s outlined in the law, and I think we will do very well if we go forward right with that.”
The governor, however, may have spoken too soon.
The agency in charge of implementing the program still has not begun awarding credits for reduced prison time and does not have a set timetable to begin letting nonviolent inmates out of Illinois’ overloaded prison system. Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said officials continue to review inmate files.
Actually, they have started implementing the bill. Reviewing the files is the beginning of that implementation.