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Raises for Teamsters, not for AFSCME

Thursday, Feb 21, 2013

* 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.

* Meanwhile

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


35 Comments
  1. - Shemp - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 12:24 pm:

    So is the contract renewed and current or expired? Pallasch says it is renewed, yet the article says there is no contract….
    Anyhow, I thought the contract was the bible? I have never heard of “management” giving out increases that weren’t negotiated, settled and approved. That’s saying nothing of 3% in this budget climate. I see the article refers to the contract as Seems to be sheer incompetence to me.


  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 12:31 pm:

    What are the “meaningful concessions” offered by the Teamsters?


  3. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 12:34 pm:

    Maybe PQ can just promise them raises again shortly before the next election?

    That will surely make things all better.


  4. - OneMan - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 12:54 pm:

    I think they are just trying to push AFSCME into a strike at this point.


  5. - dupage dan - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 12:55 pm:

    One such concession PQ wants AFSCME to accept is no raises during the life of a new contract. How does that square with other union members getting a raise due to meaningful concessions? Won’t PQ be asking the other unions to accept no raises during upcoming contracts?

    Fanning the flames, it seems.


  6. - dupage dan - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    OneMan, if that is true, AFSCME should NOT strike.


  7. - Cassiopeia - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    The AFSCME strike will bust the union. The members may vote by a slight majority to authorize a strike but it will fizzle when a sizable number of employees do not honor it. This will lead to first an erosion, than a flood of employees crossing the picket lines.


  8. - Mason born - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:10 pm:

    Cass
    I agree that AFSCME stands to lose the most. But i doubt Quinn doesn’t do a lockout. I think AFSCME loses because their messaging sucks. As incompetent as PQ is AFSCME standing there demanding more taxes from John Q public to fix IL ills then add a Strike the loss in public good will is what i think will end them.


  9. - Ready To Get Out - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:15 pm:

    Cassiopeia - Just to enlighten you and others who are guessing. It has been emphasized at union meetings that if there is a “slight majority” on the authorization vote, the union will not attempt a strike. There would have to be a strong vote before they would even consider it.


  10. - TwoFeetThick - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:21 pm:

    A point I’ve never seen raised, here or elsewhere, is if AFSCME strikes, will Democratic legislators cross the picket line? That would be one heckuva picture to get, especially for those members with strong union support in their district. I’m guessing they wouldn’t want that image plastered all over mail pieces. Will they be sneaking into the basement of the Capitol like Blago and Ryan used to do?


  11. - Fed up - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:21 pm:

    It does seem that Quinn is pushing AFSCME to strike.


  12. - Jimbo - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:24 pm:

    Divide and conquer, eh? Maybe the gov’s crack negotiation team isn’t as dumb as I thought.


  13. - OneMan - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:33 pm:

    Well you can’t turn every large explicitly organized group in the Democratic base into an enemy and succeed. So might as well make a few of them friendly.


  14. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:39 pm:

    Two thoughts. One, in my personal experience the Teamsters were always more reality based in their bargaining than AFSCME was.
    Two, I don’t know what Governor Quinn and legislators will do, but under Govs Edgar and Ryan, top staff were not allowed to cross picket lines of strikers, any time, any where.


  15. - Johnnie F. - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:43 pm:

    So when did the GA apporopriate funds for this line item for these raises? Just more game playing and an attempt to divide and conquer the ranks. Expect the 42 million in unspent uncontested personnel money from last fiscal year to begin hitting employee bank accounts just as the strike is authorized. Divide and conquer. I won’t be fooled into trust.


  16. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 1:47 pm:

    In fairness on the above, there were no strikes affecting state facilities.


  17. - cassandra - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 2:10 pm:

    I hope the early release program has competent computer support. A computer-based risk assessment program to identify early release candidates to expedite the human side of the review would save a lot of administrative and supervisory time. This program needs to move quickly. Nobody should be in jail when they don’t need to be. Yet, in Illinois, home of medieval incarceration policies, I suspect thousands are.


  18. - Jeeper - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 2:23 pm:

    I guess Quinn is more interested in avoiding a Teamsters strike than an AFSCME strike…

    Why?


  19. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    Keeper, remember what happened to Jimmy Hoffa when he crossed swords with the Teamsters?


  20. - Anyone Remember? - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 2:34 pm:

    What was negotiated by the State and the Teamsters? Isn’t all “health care / retirement” negotiated with AFSCME, and everyone else is just salary and local working conditions / rules? If so, that would explain why the Teamsters are done and AFSCME isn’t.


  21. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 2:40 pm:

    IDOT teamsters are responsible for overseeing 2 or 3 billion in capital program and other public works projects every year. Just sayin’.


  22. - walkinfool - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 2:45 pm:

    Professional and predictable negotiation tactics do make a difference.


  23. - dupage dan - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 2:50 pm:

    Mr Schnorf, in your opinion the fact that AFSCME is less accomodating doesn’t bode well for them, does it?


  24. - Ready To Get Out - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 2:56 pm:

    dupage dan - What fact do you have that says AFSCME is less accomodating? Are you privy to what’s going on in negotiations?


  25. - Ready To Get Out - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    dupage dan - Sorry, other than what Abdon Pallasch says.


  26. - Original Rambler - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    No need to divide Teamsters and AFSCME; they’re already divided!

    I thought PQ was making all the right moves in AFSCME negotiations until this. Unless he’s trying to get them to strike. This can only serve to solidify the rank and file.


  27. - Former Merit Comp Slave - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    I agree Rambler. This is pouring salt in an already gaping wound. I had hopes before this news hit…..


  28. - Holdingontomywallet - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 4:37 pm:

    It’s good to be the King; you can pick the winners and the losers with just a wave of the hand.


  29. - dupage dan - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 5:05 pm:

    RTGO - other than public statements by the head of AFSCME and my own direct connection as a member, no.


  30. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 5:22 pm:

    Not all Teamsters got raises at IDOT. This was not across the board raises, but part of the last contract for individuals that werent at there midpoint.


  31. - tired of politics - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 5:45 pm:

    Cass,
    Let me help you out. AFSCME will not authorize a strike without at least 90% support.My facility easily surpasses that percentage. When the actual proposals are made public you will see AFSCME is not being greedy.


  32. - Cornerfield - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 6:53 pm:

    - “Not all Teamsters got raises at IDOT. This was not across the board raises, but part of the last contract for individuals that werent at there midpoint.”

    Not only that, but a person has to be in their current pay grade for more than 5 years before they start to get the “midpoint bump”. Once they get to the midpoint of their pay grade, the 3% annual adjustments stop.


  33. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 6:58 pm:

    tired of politics - Greedy is pretty subjective during a recession.


  34. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 8:15 pm:

    From all the talk I’ve heard, the expectation is that about 15 percent of staff will show up to work on the first day of a strike. These are either the anti-union people in the bargaining unit or people afraid of missing a day’s pay.

    The other expectation is that by the fourth or fifth day about 25 to 30 percent of staff will report to work. Many state workers live paycheck to paycheck and will conclude that staying out of the office will have too big an impact on their ability to pay the rent.

    The state is counting on these people to provide a critical mass of workers to do essential work. There are so very few non-union workers now that the state can only function if enough union members ignore the strike and report to work.

    What is the breaking point? For the union there is some percentage of workers reporting to work that can’t be intimidated to stay away the makes the strike meaningless. For the state the concern is that some but not enough workers will show up to do the meaningful work that needs to get done. Will those who show up change their minds and walk out when unrealistic work demands are made of them, i.e., do the work of your three co-workers who are not here?

    Everyone is saying that the strike will happen about a week after the budget speech. The weather shouldn’t be too awful. I sure hope it does not happen, but it probably will.


  35. - truthteller - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 10:16 pm:

    Despite the Governor”s attempt to gut their members’ pensions and pay thousands of dollars more for their health care, the Temos continue to give large contributions to Quinn
    AFSCME isn’t the only union not getting these raises. Neither are the FOP, INA,or the IFT, who all, like AFSCME, are not contributing to the Guv’s coffers.


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