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AFSCME: Contract talks at “virtual standstill”

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012

* This is from an e-mail from AFSCME to its members…

Negotiations for a new state contract are at a virtual standstill as the Quinn Administration continues to press for massive concessions that would take thousands of dollars out of union members’ pockets.

Governor Quinn’s position is an insult to every state employee, demonstrating in no uncertain terms how little he values the vital services that state government provides to citizens.

The administration’s proposal would move every employee down two pay grades in the first year of the contract, then freeze wages and steps for the remaining two years. It would also drastically increase employee health care costs.

For many employees this would represent a $10,000 pay cut next year.

Here’s what the health insurance changes that Management has on the table would mean for you:

    First year CHP Family Premium increases–$3,245 per year; Managed Care Family Premium increases–$2,940 per year

    In the second and third year, the premium costs would increase even more because the employee’s share of health care costs (now specified in dollars per month in the contract) would be determined by a fixed percentage of costs.

    For the Quality Care Health Plan (QCHP), Management would more than double annual hospital admission deductibles, coinsurance, and annual out-of-pocket limits.
    Prescription deductibles and copays would be increased.

    Managed Care Plan (HMO or OAP) co-pays for everything (office visits; hospital admissions, surgery, emergency room, etc.) would double, as would the Rx deductible.

    Dental Plan deductibles would increase by $275. Vision Plan co-pays for exams, lenses, and frames would also more than double.

The current contract expired on June 30, but the parties agreed to extend it pending the involvement of an independent mediator in the bargaining sessions. Management refused to participate in the bargaining scheduled for Sept. 10-12 because a mediator would not be present. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Oct. 1-3. However, there is still no agreement on a mediator and one may not be available for that session either.

The continuing deadlock at the negotiating table makes crystal clear that the only way state employees will gain a fair contract is through direct action at the worksite and in the community.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Shore - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:41 am:

    The fact that quinn is a democrat makes this a hard sell for unions to the state at large. They can’t demagogue this as some right wing extremist plan and people don’t love the state unions the way some people in chicago like their teachers. The harder quinn is on unions the better he looks to independent voters.

  2. - OneMan - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:44 am:

    Looking forward to what the administration has to say…

    But that seems fairly harsh. I could see a freeze but that big of an increase in health care in one year. Damn…

  3. - Cassiopeia - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:48 am:

    Quinn wants a strike so that he can play his usual good against evil routine. In his mind he represents the taxpayers against the greedy union parasites.

    What matters with Quinn is not actual truth, nor actual right or wrong. He lives in a mental universe that few truly appreciate.

    He thinks he will look good in the long run. Remember that it is his mind place that the unions need to consider before they jump off the strike cliff and into his hand.

  4. - Chad - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:49 am:

    The voters seem not to mind union pay and benefit gains, and continue to elect public officials who continue or even boost the level of benefits. Tough tactics by AFSME are therefore rational. Why should they give in now when they can pull the plug on public services to maximize contract leverage? The union figures the Governor can probably kick this can down the road for 2 more years, so Quinn should expect a brutal contract process.

  5. - Anon. - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:54 am:

    The CTU strike set the tone. Even the CSO went on strike. A public employees strike, or even the threat of one in Obama’s “home” state would cause big problems for the Dems.

  6. - OneMan - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:55 am:

    When does the contract expire?

  7. - OneMan - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:56 am:

    Sorry, I missed the expiration date in the e-mail.

    If I were them, I would strike now…

  8. - 332bill - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:56 am:

    Also included in management’s position is the loss of 2 vacation days, 2.5 holidays and a return to a 40 hour versus the current 37.5 hour work-week. All together, these changes could easily result in over a 20% reduction in take-home pay.

  9. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:02 am:

    ‘First year CHP Family Premium increases–$3,245 per year; Managed Care Family Premium increases–$2,940 per year’

    I wish these kind of family insurance statements were a little more detailed. Are these increases ‘to’ ($3,245 total) or ‘of’ (current + $3,245). If they are ‘to’ that would be $270 a month, about 1/4 of what we pay. I have little sympathy. If they are increases ‘of’, double that to $6,490, that is still $540 a month. Yawn. When state worker family premiums hit over $1,000 a month, welcome to the rest to the world.

  10. - Sgt Schultz - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:06 am:

    Cutting pay 2 pay grades is ruthless. People have kids in college, mortgages to pay, etc. I assume the bottom line is that he wants the unions to choose between a pay cut and increase in the cost of insurance premium/out-of-pocket costs. Either way, it’s a pay cut, but the fact is that costs do go up for everyone. Negotiate the cost of insurance and move along.

  11. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:11 am:

    Cutting pay, increasing health insurance premiums, and increasing hours?

    Quinn will need to budge on some of these things, but better to start from a low first offer rather than starting from a high first offer as Rahm did.

  12. - RNUG - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:14 am:

    ” … through direct action at the worksite …”

    It’s pretty clear union leaders think a strike is coming; the only question is whether it will be before the national election so the union can exert maximum leverage. Won’t look good for a DEM Gov to be union busting in some of the battleground states, especially Ohio.

    If it is before, I would guess no later than the week of Oct 15 to maximize the pressure at the national level. And if the unions have the guts to stay out more than 2 weeks (I’m not sure this generation does), it will be months before it gets settled.

    Illinois had been considered a “safe” state for Obama. It will still go that way, but ironically a strike here could shift other states and affect a close national election.

  13. - Mouthy - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:15 am:

    AFSME should continue to publicly pound Quinn whenever and wherever they can and let him know he’s got two more years of it. It’s what works.

  14. - Nohopeforillinois - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:16 am:

    These deductibles and co- pays are entirely reasonable. Past entitlements are unsustainable, and people need to get real. People also need to take better care of themselves so as to lower health care costs. But self- reliance and self-discipline are lost virtues.

  15. - Cassiopeia - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:17 am:

    So what happens when some, maybe many in some agencies, don’t go out on the strike and instead show up for work?

  16. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:20 am:

    “When state worker family premiums hit over $1,000 a month, welcome to the rest to the world.”

    That may be, but did any of you “rest of the world” private sector employees get hit with that big a premium increase ALL AT ONCE? Or did it happen gradually over a period of years? Were the premiums already high when you started working at your current job — meaning, you had an opportunity to adjust to the situation? If that’s the case, then I don’t think you can honestly compare your situation (paying high premimums that you knew going in were high, or that escalated gradually over a period of years) with that of state employees suddenly being hit with an increase of hundreds of dollars per month. I’m sure you wouldn’t like it either if your employer did that to you.

  17. - under seige - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:27 am:

    I would need to file bankruptcy. Seriously.

  18. - Madison - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:28 am:

    Fire the strikers whom will not cross the picket lines.
    Benevolent dictator graciously rehires strikers.
    However, they must accept tier 2 pension now.
    Many birds, one stone.

  19. - western illinois - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:30 am:

    Think of the effect of replacements on vital state services…..istead of just a football game.
    Rahm was a democrat and the CTU had no problem beating him in the polls and Quinn is even more dismal. He may cost dems the house In Bustos-Scilling the ads are wrapping him around Bustos

  20. - Shore - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:36 am:

    anon, you’re assuming the state gop is competent. Which it’s not.

  21. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:38 am:

    State employees such as myself operate under a “no strike” clause in our contracts. I wonder what happens if WE violate that / as opposed to the CPS teachers?

  22. - Cook County Commoner - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:38 am:

    Secret talks are underway between Illinois state government and the US government whereby Illinois will forfeit its sovereignty amd become a protectorate of the US government. Cook County government is balking and may join Wisconson. In any event, Fed Chairman Bernanke is soliciting bids to construct currency printing presses in Springfield to be operated at the whim of unionized state, soon to be federal, employees.

  23. - Madison - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:39 am:

    Dupage the contract has expired.

  24. - N'ville - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:50 am:

    This is exactly what we all knew would happen under Governor Brady.

  25. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:50 am:


    Should we expect to read this fever dream in an IPI release soon?

  26. - cassandra - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    Is the state’s negotiator tougher than previous negotiators? Seems like it. And that’s a good thing. This is a negotiation, folks, and it’s not over. Do we citizens want (the negotiator) to hand over the keys to the state treasury? Or do we want a real negotiation? I vote for the latter.

  27. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:54 am:

    Re: Strike

    It’s got to be all about timing now. Pat Quinn’s trying to ride out the calendar to get a more favorable negotiating position.

    IMO, there’s 2 immediate pressure points - the general election (Is the SBE union, if so, that could bring chaos to the normal runup process before the general election) and then again in early/mid November with the season change.

    Secondly, are IDOT road crews union (assume they are), and are they considered non-essential, and would they be covered under a strike, or are they under a different contract?

    “Game Theory” adherents will love this.

    Questions, questions….

  28. - Ready To Get Out - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:54 am:

    It is expired, BUT is has been extended as agreed to by both sides. It is still in effect.

  29. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:54 am:

    Health insurance cost is usually determined by a fixed percentage of costs and not just a fixed dollar amount. It’s hard to decipher if the insurance costs are just becoming more in-line with whatever everybody else has to pay or if this is truly a screw job. Just not enough facts there, but this was an email to their members, not a press release or a policy statement.

    I think drastic pay cuts are a little harsh but can see the merit of a 2 - 3 year pay freeze coupled with some pension reform (including fixing the Tier 2 safe harbor issue).

  30. - Kevin Highland - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:56 am:

    This is the states offer on top of “…and we still haven’t entirely honored the previous contract”

    There are still a huge numbers of AFSCME employees that haven’t received contractually obligated pay raises due to the “failure to appropriate”. In my opinion that just makes the entire situation more contentious.

  31. - Ready To Get Out - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:56 am:


    “Contract is expired, BUT it has been extended…”

  32. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:59 am:


    It doesn’t work that way. Current employees in the Tier I plan could quit for a decade and come back into it so long as they never cashed out.

  33. - NoNameNick - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:02 am:


  34. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:05 am:

    There is no contract at this time. State employees are operating under an MOU until such time as a mediator facilitates ONE negotiation session. After that either party can nullify the MOU, so the no strike provision is meaningless. As for IDOT road crews, they are indeed Teamsters and classified as non essential. Pretty sure the only union members that will still have to report to work are public safety officials and correctional officers.

  35. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:05 am:

    I think all the employees in agencies that didn’t get the raises written in the contract will be the first to walk.

    AFSCME meets in the Chicago region Thursday night, should be an interesting one.

    Judgement Day and I are the same page with the timimg issue. Quinn thinks he can beat the calendar until after th election, but I’m not sure it’s gonna work out that way.

  36. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:07 am:

    “Is the SBE union, if so, that could bring chaos to the normal runup process before the general election”

    A strike among unionized State Board of Ed agency employees is not (I would think) going to impact day to day school operations the way a bona fide teacher’s strike like that in Chicago would. It would affect administrators and perhaps people waiting for teacher certification, but I don’t see where it would keep kids out of school, unless it went on for such a long time that school administrative functions statewide ground to a halt.

    “It’s hard to decipher if the insurance costs are just becoming more in-line with whatever everybody else has to pay or if this is truly a screw job.”

    I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Even if it is just bringing insurance costs in line with what “everyone else” has to pay, to do it all in one fell swoop is still a “screw job.”

  37. - Lobo Y Olla - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:14 am:

    I posted this on a different thread, but cant the administration “reform” benefits for employees that do not belong to unions? Surely there are state/county/municipal employees that are not union.

  38. - one of the 35 - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:15 am:

    I agree with Kevin. Why would the union even negotiate with an entity that does not have to honor any agreement they make? Seems kind of pointless to me. Maybe the union should try the same tactic. Agree to a contract and then say, “we’ve decided that we really can’t be held to what we previously agreed to. Our union by- laws won’t let us do that.”

  39. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:19 am:


    In my agency, there are exactly five employees that aren’t union… Someone in a different thread spoke of chasing nickels down the street whilst 100 dollar bills blow by. I think the union membership numbers are in the high 90s percentage wise.

  40. - cassandra - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:22 am:

    For all the present rancor, I don’t think the labor movement wants Mitt Romney to be President.
    If a strike is contemplated, I imagine there would be great pressure on AFSCME to hold off until after the election.

    At least with respect to the presidential race, i doubt a strike would make any difference anyway. President Obama is a global figure now and what happens back in Illinois is unlikely to figure in the decision-making of the tiny number of remaining undecided voters. Did we judge Clinton on the basis of what was happening in Arkansas after his first term? Bush on what was going on in Texas?

  41. - nieva - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:30 am:

    I went to work in 1990 for IDOT at 32,000 per year. I retired in 2010 and the pay had went to over 70 thousand. They now make around 75k and that does not count overtime. That may not sound like a big wage in Chicago but in Southern Illinois you got to be a doctor or attorney to beat this. Strike, I don’t think that is even an option for them.

  42. - foster brooks - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:37 am:

    Idot workers are under a no strike no lock out agreement

  43. - Old and In the Way - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:38 am:

    The proposed contract is of course the template for what PQ wants to do with the retirees . Just wait! Insurance? Screw ‘em! COLA’s? Index the minimum wage but gut the retirees! The AFSCME contract is just the beginning. Justify it all by pointing had badly the private sector is getting screwed…

  44. - Cassiopeia - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:42 am:

    “are IDOT road crews union (assume they are), and are they considered non-essential, and would they be covered under a strike, or are they under a different contract?”

    IDOT workers are in the Teamster’s union. They are not AFSCME.

  45. - Irish - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    If this were about real negotiations the Governor team would be willing to work on the issues. The money is not “the thing.” “The thing” is total dominance. In the world that is PQ head he has to punish the unions for defying him on eliminating PSA positions from the unions. Why is this so important? Because these positions used to be where political hacks were placed who did not earn directorships but still needed to be rewarded. If you don’t believe me then ask anyone who has seen the negotiations and “the thing” that the state negotiator keeps bringing up at every session is this. It has been a topic of discussion more than any other single item.

    The union has offered a wage freeze, and is willing to talk increasin pension contributions. “We are One”, a coalition of the unions has been public about these offers. But “the thing” is not included so the Governor’s response has been he is not interested in even listeniong to that proposal. I think his quote was “That is old ground.”

    So you have bond companies ready to downgrade the state bonds waiting for any action that would indicate the state is moving on it’s pension problem. And the Governor does not at least meet the union part way to prevent the downgrade. All he had to do was say ok we will take those concessions and see if those combined with the insurance costs from SB1313 generate enough savings. But he didn’t because it did not make room for those he owed favors. So HE let the state bond level be downgraded.

    And how does he propose to cut all state workers two pay grades across the board. HE gave half the state employees raises and steps last July and kept those raises and steps from others, notably the unions that gave him the most grief on the PSAs. So do some employees only get downgraded 1.25 pay grades from where they were last July and others get downgraded 2 full pay grades? There is no answer from the state. This is what negotiating with the team Quinn has assembled is like. There are no solid answers from that side. It’s not negotiations to solve anything. It is negotiations in the dark until “the thing” is given to the Governor and then he will turn on the lights.

    The Dems might be surprised in November. The union base they all depend on might have voter blue flu.

  46. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    The pendulum is beginning to swing the other way.

    The thrity-year failures of Conservative economics are being widely realized. The average voter now thinks that Dem approaches to the economy will outperform the current GOP approach. There’s even a wellspring of talk that the best thing for the country is to let ALL the Bush era tax cuts expire.

    By this time next year, we might be in a more pro-union political culture in much of the country. Hard lines by governors with unions will be less admired.

  47. - nieva - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:59 am:

    They are under that agreement until the contract expires which it did on June 30th 2012. After the contract expires they do have the right to strike. And yes they are Teamsters but their contract usually is about the same as AFSCME except for the wages.

  48. - Norseman - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 11:00 am:

    Lobo Y Olla - “cant the administration ‘reform’ benefits for employees that do not belong to unions? Surely there are state/county/municipal employees that are not union.”

    Your use of the word reform is laughable. This is not reform, this is called sticking it to employees.

    The administrations ability to jerk around non-union merit comp employees is why union membership in management type positions has soared. Keep punishing the remaining merit comp staff will result in fewer quality individuals willing to work in those positions. MC employees who can retire will, and those who can’t will continue to seek union protection.

  49. - Louis Howe - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 11:23 am:

    AFSCME has been extremely resistive to the changed private sector economic environment. As a practical matter, elected politicians can’t continue to provide wage and benefit levels to public employees that are significantly better than those available in the private sector. Even Quinn, generally considered a liberal democrat, understands that changed dynamic.

  50. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 11:32 am:

    The shock at the Administration’s proposals is great because the last 2 contracts were so generous given the economy and the State’s fiscal condition. Who knows where we would be if they had been more realistic. Probably in the same place.

  51. - Anonymice - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 11:50 am:

    ==Surely there are state/county/municipal employees that are not union.==

    Not as many as there used to be, and many of them are making less than the union employees they supervise. “Reform” them too much, and there won’t be anyone left to unlock the doors and turn on the lights when the union does strike.

  52. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 11:52 am:


    Instead of asking why state employees aren’t being screwed, how about you recognize that private sector employees are. How about asking why private sector employees no longer get pensions and pay through the nose for insurance? I for one don’t think a race to the bottom is the way to go. How about private employers start actually fairly compensating their employees and provide for them in retirement?

  53. - Calhoun Native - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 12:30 pm:

    “The administrations ability to jerk around non-union merit comp employees is why union membership in management type positions has soared. Keep punishing the remaining merit comp staff will result in fewer quality individuals willing to work in those positions. MC employees who can retire will, and those who can’t will continue to seek union protection.”

    Amen Norseman. Furlough days targeted at managers, years of no raises even in better times, Madigan’s fumigation lists, making far less than subordinates, all drove folks into the union. The upshot is the State will not attact the best management as the current group retires and moves on and that’s not good for any of us.

  54. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 12:37 pm:

    Why don’t the unions take their considerable influence and direct their efforts at bringing down health care costs? The biggest problem governments are facing with public employees (police, fire, teachers, service etc) is the cost of health care. They simply cannot afford it. Private sector employers are asking employees to carry more of the expense. Small businesses do not even offer health insurance. The out-of-pocket expense to a small business tops 10,000K per employee. Tax credits help, but not enough. Do good for the people unions, not just your members.

    And, I’m sorry, but the “vital” services done by state employees - as a former state worker - we’re not exactly police, fire or teachers. Not exactly a compelling argument. Try spelling out these vital services so the public isn’t just thinking about the paper pushers (of which I was one).

  55. - SO IL M - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 12:37 pm:

    AFSCME will not strike before the election. While they are locked in a heated battle with Quinn, they are still firmly behind the Progressive-Democrat Movement. Since that cause is more important than Quinn, they will not do anything to hurt other Democrats between now and Election Day.

  56. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 12:46 pm:

    Louis Howe: excuse me? Your comments are based on what?

    My friends in middle management (what’s left of it after upper management laid off many VPs/hgh wage earners in 2008) still make more than me for the same amount of resposibility and level of expertise. In addition to the cuts/layoffs, their pension plan has been downgraded to an IRA.

    This will not happen in the public sector without a huge, drawn out battle. For example:my brother was mid level management for twenty years in a hospital based industry, and was laid off after Christmas and given 18 months of severance and insurance coverage. He has found new employment for 20% less money (still six figures though)and more responsibility. I would have to work at least ten more years to even begin to approach that salary grade, and I’m in my mid fifties.
    This is the new reality out there.

    I would be hsppy to pay more for health insurance and deductibles, but a pay decrease is just patently unfair. Besides, many women are the sole employed wagearner these days and we already make 77 cents for every dollar a guy makes working the same job. Double whammy? You betcha.

  57. - NW Territories - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 12:55 pm:

    The current path is unsustainable. Private industry stopped offering defined-benefit pensions 20 years ago. What private companies consider 37.5 hours full-time? Too many state payrollers say they could make more in private industry but act like they are doing us a favor collecting state pay and benefits. It’s time to put up or shut up.

  58. - Ready To Get Out - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:02 pm:

    NW…problem is “private industry” stopped offering jobs almost 4 years ago when Obama was elected. Guess their rate of growth was “unsustainable.”

  59. - Raising Kane - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:04 pm:

    NW, pensions and contract negotiations are two different things. I honestly don’t know any private sector people who are being asked to take a 10% pay cut. In fact, the average salary increase in the private sector this year is 2.9%.

    Also, the state workforce is significantly below where it was even just a few years ago. So state employees are doing more. I understand no raise but a cut seems unnecessary, especially when you consider that at most, that will equal 200 Million. Not chicken feed but a rounding error on a budget our size.

  60. - Harry Wasko - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:10 pm:

    For Northwest Territories: You do realize that you make more money in a 40 hour week, pay more into your pension etc than a 37.5 hour week. A lot of folks have wanted the 40 hours back for a long time.

  61. - Rusty618 - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:18 pm:

    I have heard that the mediator pulled out of the contract negotiation because the parties were too far apart, and neither would budge. He didn’t have time for this and left. Both parties will have to compromise on some of the issues, but it should be a fair deal…like what the legislators and Quinn’s staff have. LOL!!!
    I would gladly jump to a private sector job in my area if there were one in my field, because it would pay much more than what I currently get.

  62. - Rusty618 - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:21 pm:

    Harry, most state employees are salaried and not hourly, so you would be working more hours for the same pay (or less if Quinn gets his way!).

  63. - StayFree75 - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:24 pm:

    I’m a CPA working for a State agency, and I’m going to show up for work come hell or high water. I am never going to find an easier job anywhere, ever. And in my agency, if the work week were expanded to 40 hours from 37.5, employees would just be sitting around doing nothing for an extra half hour a day. There’s not enough work to keep anyone busy for 37.5 hours in my agency, let alone 40, but if that makes the administration happy, so be it.

    A big part of why I would not be willing to strike is I am almost certain my supervisor will not strike. My supervisor can easily do the entire department’s work by himself, so what would be achieved by striking? AFSCME needs to realize, if they don’t already, that some positions are more strategically important in a strike situation than others. If the rank and file all strike, but the supervisors still get the job done, what will the administration care about the strikers? Governor Quinn will be able to wait out the strikers.

  64. - Harry Wasko - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:45 pm:

    Rusty: You are right and my mistake. I was an hourly employee at a local University. In 1991 I lost a good job at a central Il plant. Only because I was a VieTnam Vet did I have a chance for the University job. I went to work for half what I was making at the plant. When I retired 17 years later I was close to what I had made in the previous job. As you know, all state workers don`t make big money.

  65. - OneMan - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:55 pm:

    StayFree75, not sure if you are trolling or what…

    But I suspect long term (more than a few days) your supervisor can’t do all of your jobs. You might be able to keep the lights on, but things are going to slip and things are going to not get done. It’s the way things are.

    The public in general isn’t going to notice CPAs not on the job, they are going to notice others not on the job. That’s the leverage, in the bigger picture of things, I wouldn’t have you strike, I would have the frontline workers strike.

  66. - wishbone - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    “A public employees strike, or even the threat of one in Obama’s “home” state would cause big problems for the Dems.”

    They said the same thing about a teachers strike and it just ain’t so. The Dems gain more from independents than they lose from union members who have nowhere else to go.

  67. - J - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 1:59 pm:

    I don’t get this ‘generous’ pay I am supposedly getting. IT contractors make double what I am getting for the same type of work. Bend it what ever way you want, but the benefits just don’t add up to that much.

    Cut my pay by the two pay grades and I will quit. Good luck hiring a college kid to fill my shoes because if he or she is that good, why would that person work for those wages and that tier 2 pension plan? So the state’s choice is to back fill with costly contractors who will take their experience with them when they go on to the next job. Those of you saying ‘big deal’ have probably never looked at the legacy code that runs the state systems. One screw-up by an inexperienced contractor could mean thousands of kids will go hungry.

    As far as the strike goes, I am not union, but I am bargaining unit and I won’t cross the picket line. I don’t like some of the stunts AFSCME has pulled in the past, such as supporting those clowns in the Wall Street sit-in. And I sure as heck didn’t vote for Quinn. But when it comes to pay, pay me a fair wage or don’t expect me to work for you.

  68. - J - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 2:21 pm:

    To ‘StayFree’
    While I suspect that janitorial administrators could probably do that job. When you get into the higher technical professions, such as IT or auditing, you won’t find a lot of adminstators who are up to the task. And even if they know the rules, they can’t very well fill the shoes of every person they supervise.

    Let’s take for example sales tax auditors. They run around the state auditing businesses to ensure the state is collecting the proper amount of sales tax. One supervisor couldn’t possibly do the work of five sales tax auditors, they simply don’t have enough time in the day. So in the case of a prolonged strike, you could have businesses fudging their sales tax numbers and not enough auditors to catch the fudgers. Not a good scenario for a state in bad financial shape.

    And where would the state hire replacements for those striking auditors? Sales tax law is not something they teach in college. There are many regs they would have to learn and its not something that could be done overnight.

  69. - Parentoforphan - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 2:21 pm:

    We can all see what the NFL gets when they refuse to pay a fair wage to their skilled professional referees. Hopefully Gov. Quinn does not want the same for those who receive services in Illinois. SODC closures in Illinois are simply an attempt to remove the skilled professionals because others do not respect the work that they do for the citizens of Illinois. The consequences though can be much greater than a few blown calls! The governor’s refusal to respect the previous contract combined with the fact that the offers currently made are disrespectful to every employee, indicates to us that he does not value a middle-class in Illinois. Instead he intends to force people into poverty while still performing the same services.

  70. - Reformed - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 2:30 pm:

    I say call AFSCME’s bluff. They could never get enough state employees to participate in a strike. Most only joined the union for the wage scale. They won’t give up a days pay.

  71. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 2:31 pm:

    So, exactly how much cutting has to go on w/us State employees in order to balance the budget? I remember during one recent budget “crisis” it was said here that you could fire the entire lot of us and it wouldn’t make much of a dent in the deficit. I realize that the pension situation is huge but I fail to see how 2 steps backwards in pay does much for the state overall. Given that we still are demonized in the media (another pension sweetener story in Mother Tribune today) it is no surprise that PQ is pusing so hard on this. Who will the rank and file vote for in the next Gov election” Bill Brady, etal? Not likely.

  72. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 2:33 pm:

    Reformed, you haven’t a clue.

  73. - J - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 2:47 pm:

    Oh I don’t know, I would have to see what Bill Brady has to say before I vote for or against him. It seems that state employees did pretty well under Thompson, Edgar, and Ryan. Those guys at least would bargain fairly. If Bill Brady has the same anti-public employee rant that Quinn and Blagovich have, I will be looking for a third party candidate or a Democratic challenger to Quinn.

  74. - onevoter - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 2:51 pm:

    “The administration’s proposal would move every employee down two pay grades in the first year of the contract, then freeze wages and steps for the remaining two years.”

    I say no to a pay decrease. I have learned to live within my current budget….unlike the Governor and the General Assembly. We haven’t even started talking about the pension yet. I think I understand the big picture, and know that some concession are going to happen. However, the current proposal is draconian.

    This is all part of the powers that be, not being about to live within a budget and penalizing the state employees for decades of underfunded pension contributions

  75. - HatTrick - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 2:53 pm:

    AFSCME shouldn’t be in the business of worrying about balanced budgets, deficit spending or the approval of Wall Street bond houses. The GA and IL Governors made and signed these deals. They are elected to make those decisions and live with them. AFSCME’s job is to fight for job security, the highest wages possible and benefits to match. If it takes a strike to make that point, so be it. I also expect them (AFSCME) to use the courts (with many judges sitting on those benches thanks to the resources and hard work of our brothers and sisters in Labor) to fight efforts to breach these contracts. However, as an aside, ten-to-one odds Henry Bayer will be standing on stage with PQ on Governor’s Day endorsing him over any Republican out there in 2014. 10-1. Much, much stranger things have happened here . . .

  76. - uniongal - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 2:54 pm:

    AFSME has been talking about the two-step pay downgrades, increasing health care costs, 40-hour work week, etc., for a while now in their communication with us on contract negotations. Because I don’t have a lot of faith in AFSCME leadership, I’ve written it off as inflammatory language designed to rally the troops. They talk a good game, but really, when was the last time they had a gain?

    I don’t trust PQ to keep his word on a contract.

    The foundation for this negotiation was fractured from the start.

  77. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 3:12 pm:

    I wonder if all these drastic proposals on wages and health insurance are not simply a setup for a “compromise” plan. For example, a proposal for “only” a 5% or one-step wage cut, which would have been unthinkable a year ago, would now seem pretty reasonable in comparison to what’s currently on the table.

  78. - RNUG - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 3:27 pm:

    The biggest problem I see is the State employees don’t have a clue about a serious strike effort. As I commented previously, I don’t know if they will have the stamina to stay out for weeks or months. I remember my dad being out on strike for months at a time … it was just expected and something that you planned for with stocked up canned food, etc. I don’t remember anything like that for State workers the past 40 years.

    And unlike other unions going out, there aren’t going to be any State workers to take the food stamp applications. Wonder how management will feel when their employees are sitting across the desk applying for the aid?

  79. - lincolnlover - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 3:38 pm:

    StayFree - If you don’t have enough work to do, come on over to MY angency where we have lost 50% of our staff over the past 10 years. Its not possible to get everything done, even if I were allowed to work overtime, which I am not. You might have an easy gig, but I don’t so do NOT paint us all with the same brush.

  80. - lincolnlover - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 3:40 pm:

    NW - State Farm Insurance still has a defined benefit plan and a 37.5 hour work week. I am sure there are others.

  81. - Spanky - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 3:44 pm:

    Any public sector union strike will surely raise the ire of the voting public, especially the unemployed who would gladly have a government job, even at the proposed reduced wages.

  82. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 3:47 pm:

    ===especially the unemployed===

    Any data to back that up?

  83. - Irish - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 3:52 pm:

    StayFree75 - @ 1:24 pm: Folks like you are the reason state workers have a bad name if you are even a state worker. Why don’t you walk into one of the prisons and make the statement you just did. If you get out I think you will have a different slant on things. Or make a couple of abused child calls as a DCFS worker and see if you think their supervisor could handle all of their caseloads. There is no way in H%&$ my supervisor could do what I and my staff do. Everytime there is an issue here I get a call from someone up the chain and the first thing they say is ” Explain to me again what we are doing at “such and such a place” and how does that program run?”

    Apparently your department is a place to cut some fat by your own admission. I wonder if your co-workers feel the same or maybe they are just picking up your slack.

  84. - uniongal - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 4:01 pm:

    I’m a member of the voting public. The teacher’s union strike didn’t bother me one bit, nor did they suffer in the polls for it.

  85. - StayFree75 - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 4:04 pm:

    Irish, no, I’ve received letters of commendation from my agency for the quality of my work, and it has been noted in my performance reviews for two years runningd that I am doing the work previously handled by at least two employees, who have since retired. Its still not enougj to keep me busy even half the day. I’m usually done with my work within 20 minutes of arriving in the morning.

    I started in the private sector. Please strike AFSCME. There will be so many opportunities for me to take advanta

  86. - uniongal - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 4:07 pm:

    I think most reasonable people can relate to the unfairness of a drastic pay cut coupled with increased hours and higher health insurance costs.

  87. - J - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 4:08 pm:

    The state simply can’t hire an “unemployed” person off the street. They either have to have a degree or take a test for a grade.

    Its pretty unlikely that Springfield has that big of a pool of skilled unemployed to cover all the striking vacancies. And if past experience is any indication, most upstaters aren’t going to move to the sticks for the kinds of wages that the state wants to pay.

  88. - J - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 4:30 pm:

    Well stayfree, there are pleny of opportunities already if you have the skill set. For example there is an ISA III opt J in Chicago that’s been open for months. You can’t get much higher than that without going into management. And the management won’t be striking anyway. If you don’t have the skill set, striking isn’t going to give you any additional opportunities.

  89. - Maxine on Politics - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 5:18 pm:

    Strike you say? Lots of hurdles have to be jumped before that can happen. It must be voted on by the union members with a high “yes” margin. I will say, definately not before the election.

  90. - cassandra - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 5:21 pm:

    I’m finding Stayfree rather refreshing although I’m still a little sceptical that he/she’s the real deal.

    I particularly like the done for the day in 20 minutes part, since I love to read those spend less time working books. Still, 20 minutes has to be a record. One can dream.

  91. - StayFree75 - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 5:21 pm:

    Irish, don’t get me started on DCFS. OK, you did.

    DCFS is exactly where the cuts should be made. DCFS gets it wrong far more than they get it right by their own statistics (77% of all allegations are unfounded, and over 75% of the remaining “indicated” cases are overturned upon appeal). If its a serious matter, the police should handle it. The police do a much better job handling this stuff than DCFS.
    And don’t say DCFS saves lives. DCFS launches an investigation after an incident occurs.

    Families and children would be safer if DCFS didn’t exist.

  92. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 5:32 pm:

    === The continuing deadlock at the negotiating table makes crystal clear that the only way state employees will gain a fair contract is through direct action at the worksite and in the community. ===

    They say that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. But those who learn the wrong lessons from history fair far worse.

    As previously noted, both of my grandfathers were members of public unions…one AFSCME and one with the Operating Engineers. I’ve been pretty outspoken in my support for the CTU, but I would urge caution for AFSCME as the union and their members gin up talk of a strike.

    First, don’t learn the wrong lesson from the CTU strike. There are 25,000 CTU members in Chicago, spread out across roughly 3000 precincts. That’s an average of eight teachers in every neighborhood, basically one on every block. Not to mention the fact that even if parents don’t happen to like their kids current teacher, most can think of atleast one teacher they really liked.

    Contrast that with AFSCME’s situation. Their membership, all though comparable in size to the CTU, is spread much thinner across the state, and heavily concentrated in a few geographies. While many Chicagoans can name atleast one teacher, how many can name a single state employee? If you live in Sangamon County, you can probably name dozens. But what about the rest of the state?

    Rich asked for data. Here’s some.

    Simon Institute Southern Illinois Poll, 2012:

    “by a wider margin, they [Southern Illinois voters] favored having defined- benefit, 401(k)-style plans for future state workers (58 percent in favor to 25 percent opposed).

    Opinion was more closely split on a proposal to increase the pension contributions required of current state employees (45 percent in favor to 42 percent opposed). Respondents were also split evenly on the issue of raising current retirees’ contributions to their health insurance plans (48 percent in favor to 47 percent opposed).”

    From the Simon Institute’s 2011 statewide poll:

    Do you favor or oppose cuts in spending on pension benefits for state workerʼs retirement (Favor/Oppose)?

    2011: 46/48
    2010: 46/48
    2009: 40/53
    2008: 24/66

    These trends are not good for AFSCME. Southern Illinois’ high poverty, concentration of public jobs, and long history of labor activism normally make it a hotbed of union support. Not anymore.

    And if the general public across the state is evenly divided on pension cuts, AFSCME has to be concerned about where they stand on pay freeze/pay cuts and the possibility that a strike might backfire.

    I might be mistaken, but I believe the last state strike by AFSCME was 1975. Let’s hope it’s a long time before the next one.

  93. - annon & worried - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 7:15 pm:

    How about Quinn 1st settling up, honoring & closing out the contract that was negotiated & in place, honoring the MOU he signed with AFSCME to forego raises to help him out of the last bunch of finacial jams. Let’s see about that & start fresh. Other agencies rec’d them. Quinn had a responsibility to do so, but as usual delivers the news after it’s happened. The union will have to get serios too, decide what’s important & make concessions to be sure,probably in raises to keep the benefits intact. Quinn’s not even serious about this though. Union needs to put a propsal out & stick with it. State is falling down around him & he’s off to Brazil.

  94. - Gurgle Gutz - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 7:28 pm:

    StayFree75 -

    Why do I suspect that you’re just trolling? If you’re as good as you say you are, please drop an application for pre-employment screening for Correctional Officer Trainee with the IDOC. We could use a real go-getter like you.

    It’d be great to be able to have all of my daily counts completed, showers & recreation administered, commissary shopped, court writs and medical furloughs performed, housing unit moves completed, chow lines fed, etc. etc. etc….. all within 20 minutes of completing roll-call.

    I’ll bet that with you on a shift, management could eliminate all the overtime that we have, at least on one shift.

  95. - Health care??? - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 7:30 pm:

    Hmmm. I thought President Obama promised everyone… that means all… That their healthcare premiums would go down $2500 a year; by the end of his first term???

  96. - Panopticon - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 7:47 pm:

    The contract expired in at the end of June, but an extension was agreed upon by both parties. I see that AFSCME has failed to point out that Governor Quinn has violated that contract, and is continuing to violate it during the extension. Usually when a contract is breached, it is null and void. Why does the Union still continue to negotiate on a new contract, when the current contract is being violated by the State? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

  97. - Old timer - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:12 pm:

    If state employees lose salary and benefits, monthly dues paid to AFSME and TEAMSTERS should be reduced by the percentage that was lost.

  98. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:37 pm:

    @Health care??? -

    First, Obama pledged that his health care plan would save the average family $2500 — that’s versus Doing Nothing. He didn’t promise that premiums would actually go down by $2500 and no one in their right mind would. In 2008, the average premiums were about $12,300 and rising about 8 percent per year. Only a fool would claim they would go down by 1/6.

    Secondly, the ACA legislation actually passed by Congress was notably different than what Obama proposed in 2007-2008. His original plan had no individual mandate, but one was added to attract conservative support. The final law also delayed much of the implementation until 2014. So, of course, with the law not having taken full effect yet, full savings aren’t going to be realized in 2012. The new projection is that the average family will save $2000 a year by 2019.

  99. - Health care - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 8:50 pm:


    And u believe that…??? Type in Obama healthcare premium on YouTube and you will see his promise. Also, if premiums are going down in the year u say, why is the state projecting cost increases. Tell state retires their premiums are going down! Tell state workers their premiums are going down….

  100. - Ready to Get Out - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:22 pm:

    Looks like there are some right-wing tea party trolls hanging out here today stirring the you know what. Why don’t we just ignore them and stay on topic? Stalled negotiations???

  101. - Concerned Voter - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 9:23 pm:

    I can just imagine it there may be some supervisors who could jump in and do some of the work if a strike happened, but there are also some that would have a difficult time. Heck, some supervisors would be totally lost trying to do the work of their employees, not all supervisors came up through the ranks in the sections they currently supervise in.

    And as was mentioned by someone else, if we did go back 2 pay steps, plus increases in our contributions for healthcare and retirement, I’d also be calling an attorney to see about bankruptcy. There have been a few tough times over the years and I would never have even though about that, but if those changes went into effect, it might be the only way to get by.

    And since every little bit helps, why not get rid of CMS?

  102. - mythoughtis - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:24 pm:

    Stay …. so since you do not wish to defraud the government, nor us taxpayers, I assume you will be submitting your resignation as soon as possible? NO? So, you are perfectly happy with getting paid a day’s wage for 20 minutes work? Ask your boss for something else to do, or apply for a job that will take you all day.

    I have more work than I can do right now, as does everyone I know at my agency. But, then we don’t hire politically, we hire based on merit.

  103. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Sep 25, 12 @ 10:28 pm:

    @ Health care:

    The Washington Post gave this same attack blaming Obama for rising health care costs — first uttered by Mitt Romney - “Four Pinocchios. As in “Liar, Liar, pants on fire!”

    Here’s what they said:

    “The Romney campaign has twisted the meaning of that pledge [by Obama in 2008], and then blamed a partially implemented, one-year-old law for three years of premium increases, in order to concoct an absurd claim.”

    Like the claim that Obama is a Muslim, or Obama was born in Kenya, or anybody could have killed bin Laden (except apparently Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld), this ridiculous attack lives on in the hearts and minds of some thanks to the Alternate Reality of right wing websites.

    @Ready to Get Out -

    I look on the bright side. “Stalled negotiations” or negotiations that are at a a “virtual standstill” mean that both sides are still at the table. If they are still at the table, hopefully they are talking about something, even if it is only baseball.

    It’s when one side or both is only negotiating via press release that we should worry.

  104. - annon - Wednesday, Sep 26, 12 @ 6:40 am:

    CMS disbanded….good idea posted earlier & also Shared Services ! That’s another one that needs to be abolished. We all know what CMS stands for & you will too if you think about it a minute.

  105. - StayFree75 - Wednesday, Sep 26, 12 @ 9:05 am:

    mythoughtis, I did ask my supervisor for more work to do last Thursday morning, and everything they came up with for me to do only added another 10 minutes to my day.

  106. - Anyone Remember? - Wednesday, Sep 26, 12 @ 9:14 am:

    StayFree75 -

    WHERE do you work? Please pass along your information to GOMB so they can reduce the headcount there.

  107. - Ramsin - Wednesday, Sep 26, 12 @ 11:54 am:

    If it wasn’t obvious to you guy that “StayFree” is a libertarian troll by now, maybe taking a moment to reflect on the cloying Ayn Rand-ish moniker should help.

  108. - StayFree75 - Thursday, Sep 27, 12 @ 1:12 pm:

    My supervisor said to me a couple hours ago, “I wish had something more for you to do.”

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