Members of the largest state government employee union have ratified a new contract covering 35,000 state workers.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said Tuesday the vote was 96 percent of voters in favor of the deal to 4 percent against.
* From AFSCME…
STATE EMPLOYEES RATIFY NEW UNION CONTRACT
State workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 have voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement.
The contract covers some 35,000 employees, including child protection workers, nurse aides, correctional officers, police dispatchers, environmental technicians, and many others who provide vital services to Illinois residents.
The tentative agreement between AFSCME and the State of Illinois was reached on February 28 and submitted to union members for approval by secret-ballot vote at locations across the state over the past three weeks.
The agreement was reached after more than 15 months of often-contentious negotiations with the administration of Governor Pat Quinn.
“This new contract takes into account the state’s fiscal challenges, while also recognizing the vitally important work state employees do,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said.
“AFSCME members are on the front lines every day,” Bayer added. “They care for the elderly and people with disabilities, protect public safety, maintain state parks, respond to emergencies and more. They often work without sufficient staff or resources, going the extra mile to provide services that residents rely on, and they deserve to be treated fairly.”
Employees will receive a general wage increase that averages 1.3% per year over the contract’s three-year term. Those eligible for step increases will receive them as scheduled, while workers with more than 10 years’ seniority will receive a $25 per month increase in longevity pay.
At the same time, union members agreed to higher health care premiums, co-pays and deductibles, changes that will save the state some $900 million in the aggregate over the life of the agreement.
“While this contract doesn’t fully keep pace with the rising cost of living, it will help employees meet those costs,” Bayer said. “At the same time, it will help the state to address its economic challenges.”
* Gov. Pat Quinn’s announcement wasn’t overstated at all. Umm…
Governor Quinn Announces Best Contract for Taxpayers in Illinois History
Three-year Agreement Ratified by Union After Longest Negotiation in History
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today praised the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 members’ approval of the new union contract covering some 35,000 state employees. Negotiations took more than 15 months and the agreement was ratified by AFSCME members over the past two weeks. Today’s development is part of the governor’s commitment to restore fiscal stability to Illinois.
“This is the best contract for all taxpayers in Illinois history,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “This contract recognizes the fact that the state is facing unprecedented financial challenges. I want to thank the members of AFSCME who approved the agreement and the women and men who negotiated at the table for more than a year to get this job done. Even in difficult times, the process can work. This is a win for all of our taxpayers and a win for state workers as we continue to move Illinois forward.”
AFSCME announced ratification of the contract this evening. The approved agreement will result in $900 million in healthcare savings over the life of the contract. The contract puts an end to free retiree healthcare in Illinois to ensure all retirees will begin paying a modest portion of their health insurance premiums starting July 1. In addition, the contract includes the most modest Cost of Living Adjustments in state history at a rate of 0 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent. Combined with step and longevity adjustments, this will total about $200 million over the life of the contract. The contract calls for new hires to start three steps lower, which amounts to about 9 percent less starting salary, which will save taxpayers money for years to come.
The contract also settles the pay raise litigation that has been tied up in court. As part of the agreement, the union and the administration have agreed to seek approximately $140 million in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 wages from the previous contract that were never appropriated.
This 15-month negotiation was the longest in the state’s history.