* Press release…
One year and one day since Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration broke off contract negotiations with the largest union of public service workers in state government, AFSCME is taking the initiative to jumpstart constructive dialogue. The union has sent the governor a letter outlining a new settlement framework which significantly modifies AFSCME’s previous positions on core economic issues.
The elements of the AFSCME framework include the following:
✓ Employees would forgo any increases in base wages in all four years of the contract.
✓ Employees would pay increased health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles in FY 17, 18 and 19 as determined by an independent arbitrator in the recent interest arbitration regarding contract terms for Illinois state troopers.
✓ All employees would receive the amounts the governor has already proposed to expend on bonuses—$1,000 per employee in the first year of the contract and 2% of payroll in each subsequent year—as one-time payments in each of those years.
✓ In order to prevent large pay differentials among employees performing the same work, the 40% of employees eligible for continued movement through the pay plan would move to the next step in FY 18 and 19.
✓ Further negotiations on all other outstanding issues.
“Our union remains ready to return to bargaining,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “We know that Illinois residents rely on public service workers in state government to protect children from abuse, aid our veterans, respond to emergencies, keep our air and water clean, and much more. We want to keep Illinois working, without the potential disruption of a statewide strike.”
The Rauner Administration broke off negotiations on Jan. 8, 2016, and has refused to meet with the union bargaining team in the intervening year. Instead the governor asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board, whose members he appoints, to declare an “impasse” in negotiations, thus opening the door for Rauner to impose his own terms on state workers. Rauner’s demands include:
• No salary increases for four years;
• A 100% hike in employee premiums for health care (forcing workers to pay double their current health costs) in the first year alone; and
• Withholding all scheduled movement through the pay plan for the newest-hired and often lowest-paid workers.
In all, Rauner’s demands equate to a $10,000 pay cut for the average state worker. By trying to impose those terms, the governor is threatening to force state employees out on strike for the first time in more than 40 years of collective bargaining.
“Our framework recognizes the state’s fiscal problems and shows that state employees will do their part to help address them,” Lynch said. “Employees would pay more for health insurance in three of the four years while receiving no increase to their base salary for four years, so the costs to the state are extremely modest.
“We think compromise, not conflict, is the way to move Illinois forward,” she said. “Let’s get back to the bargaining table and work toward an agreement that’s fair to all.”
The letter is here.