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*** UPDATED x2 - Madigan responds - Union claims Lisa Madigan holding up signature *** AFSCME hasn’t signed the union contract

Thursday, Apr 25, 2013

* Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune editorial board thundered its outrage over not being able to obtain an official copy of the new AFSCME contract with the state

We’ve been asking for a copy since Feb. 28, the day the two sides announced the agreement. Quinn’s office said we had to wait until union members ratified the contract. That happened on March 19.

Since then, we’ve been told the lawyers needed time to tidy up the paperwork.

A full month of tidying? Sorry, but we’re out of patience. Taxpayers are picking up the tab for this contract. They deserve to know how much Quinn and the employee union ordered up in pay and benefits. In fact, taxpayers should have the opportunity to weigh in before the contract gets finalized with Quinn’s signature.

* So, I contacted a few folks to see if I could find out what was going on. Why couldn’t we get an official copy? We’ve already seen the copy that went out to union members, but what about the final copy? Anders Lindall with AFSCME e-mailed me back late yesterday afternoon…

As you know, once finalized, our state contract is publicly available; the previous contract is posted in its entirety on the CMS website. With respect to the new agreement, you and others have reported on all key provisions, even publishing our internal summary that covers economic issues as well changes in workplace practices, policies and procedures. But at this point, with the contract not yet signed and the parties still finalizing finely-tuned language changes, there is simply nothing more to release.

Wait. The contract isn’t signed? It was ratified weeks ago.

Why isn’t the contract signed?

Lindall replied…

Like I say, parties still finalizing language.

*** UPDATE 1 *** This may help clear things up, thanks to a commenter. From a message to union members from Henry Bayer

The Administration has moved forward to fulfill these commitments:

    1. The FY 14 budget that the governor submitted to the General Assembly includes funding to bring all employees to their proper wage level pursuant to the previous and the current contract.

    2. The Administration is now moving forward on the dispersal of the escrowed funds. These are monies that the union had demonstrated to the court were appropriated in the FY12 budget and could therefore be used toward payment of the back wages owed for FY12. There is approximately $42 million in this fund. Many of the dollars are restricted in how they can be allocated (e.g., federal grants for specific purposes or appropriations for specific agencies), so the distribution to employees will not be uniform and the restrictions may prevent all of the $42 million from being distributed. Allocation of these funds is in the process of final review and affected employees will be notified in the coming weeks.

    3. The remainder of the back pay owed (approximately $154 million) requires a supplemental appropriation by the General Assembly. The Administration has drafted the supplemental and expects it to be introduced next week.

    4. The Governor’s Office notified Attorney General Lisa Madigan that the appeal of the circuit court ruling should be withdrawn. To date, the Attorney General has failed to do so, indicating that she is conducting a thorough review of the case before reaching a decision as to how to proceed.

Council 31 staff have been working intensively for weeks now to finalize the new contract, which requires ensuring the accuracy of the specific wording of the contract language and verifying all elements of the health plan and other economic components.

However, the new contract has not been signed, pending the state’s action on the lawsuit. [Emphasis added.]

So, it’s not all about the “language.” Attorney General Madigan is holding up the union’s signature. I’ll ask her why right now. Check back.

But, yes, the health plan language is still a sticking point. There’s some debate over what type of health plan should now be used. More on that another time.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The attorney general’s office responds…

It’s our understanding that the full payment of backpay is dependent on a special appropriation. We know the Legislature, the Governor and AFSCME are working on that. In the meantime, until a special appropriation bill moves forward, it’s most appropriate to put the lawsuits on hold, as the Governor, the legislature and AFSCME continue their work.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

42 Comments
  1. - anon - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 10:27 am:

    ummm, not singed because administration andlegislature won’t honor the negotiated terms within the contract now.


  2. - Kana - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    It’s absurd the taxpayers who will be funding the contract can’t see it. Why?


  3. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    Taxpayers should get to weigh in? What, do you think they should hold an election so that the public can vote on the contract? That is not the way contract negotiations work, nor should they. Perhaps someday people will grasp the concept that we elect people to do these sorts of things. I’m starting to have less faith in our schools if people aren’t being taught the most basic aspects of how our system of government operates.


  4. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 10:35 am:

    @Kana:

    You will be able to see the entire contract. I can’t tell you why it is taking so long to get signatures and finalize but it won’t be hidden. You can see every single union contract the state has on the CMS website.


  5. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 10:41 am:

    Shouldn’t you finalize the language, then seek ratification?


  6. - Tangerine - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    I’m a union member and from what I understand (based on communications from Council 31 via email) that there’s also some dispute over whether or not the AG is going to withdraw the appeal over the pay case (leftover from the last contract). This was part of the agreement that got this contract and contained in the ratifying language that all members voted on. The Governor directed the AG to withdraw the appeal, but the AG’s position is that it’s within her wheelhouse to decide whether to withdraw, and the Governor only has advisory authority.

    I also haven’t seen the finalized language of the contract and it applies to my employment. Presumably because the finalized language hasn’t been finalized yet. All I’ve seen is the same things the Trib has seen and the same things that have been published on CapFax. Breathless demands aren’t going to get the Trib anywhere.


  7. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 10:48 am:

    Tangerine, please forward me that e-mail. Thanks.


  8. - Liberty First - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 10:50 am:

    So the powers to be agreed on the big picture, the vote was on a summary and they are cleaning up the details– what is the big deal?


  9. - Sonic Infidel - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 11:59 am:

    Wordslinger: You’re absolutely right. Who ratifies an agreement that isn’t even fully agreed yet?


  10. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 12:09 pm:

    Word

    Actually this is pretty much what happens for each contract vote. This year, due to a number of factors, the contract is being more closely scrutinized. We often don’t see hard copies for a year after ratification. Most years a new contract is a small blurb buried somewhere in the paper. I cannot recall in 33 years there ever being an editorial about an AFSCME contract.

    “Shouldn’t you finalize the language, then seek ratification?”


  11. - BiBe - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 12:24 pm:

    On the edge of my seat waiting to hear Lisa Madigan’s explanation to you. This should be a good one.


  12. - Spliff - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 12:33 pm:

    So Quinn and AFSCME blame Lisa, Lisa blames Quinn and the GA and while the senate is willing to pass the Supplemental the House doesn’t want anything to do with it. Who is in control of the house again?


  13. - ??? - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 12:38 pm:

    I got the email Tangerine is referring to. I’m not counting on any back pay at this point, since Speaker Madigan (and some other lawmakers as well)is not exactly a fan of AFSCME these days. I’m not optimistic that a supplemental appropriation will be approved for this purpose.


  14. - Pelon - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 12:51 pm:

    That’s a lame answer from the AG’s office. Whether the money will be appropriated has nothing to do with whether or not the suit should be withdrawn.


  15. - Sox fan - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 12:52 pm:

    When is the supplemental bill getting introduced?


  16. - Anon - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    The decision allowed for interest to be paid. I assume that just keeps accumulating. If the governor and union can’t come to an agreement until this appeal is dropped and the Attorney General wont drop the lawsuit until an agreement is made there appears to be a problem here.


  17. - Responsa - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 1:08 pm:

    ==do you think they should hold an election so that the public can vote on the contract? That is not the way contract negotiations work, nor should they. Perhaps someday people will grasp the concept that we elect people to do these sorts of things.==

    LOL, Demoralized. You do realize this is Illinois we are talking about here, right? I think we all grasp the concept just fine, but are not particularly down with the reality of the lack of execution.

    Denouement. It’s a great and wonderful word, and taxpayers need and deserve one with respect to this contract.


  18. - Rod - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 1:12 pm:

    I for one question the legal authority of a contract between the Illinois Department of Central Management Services Bureau of Personnel and AFSCME Council 31 to dictate to the Illinois General Assembly that it must pass a $154 million supplemental appropriation. It seems that the General Assembly should pass or not pass the appropriation prior to finalizing the contract.

    The Constitution of Illinois declares that the “General Assembly by law shall make
    appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State.” Hence it seems clear thesupplemental appropriation should be made or not made before the contract becomes final.


  19. - Where will it end - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    Not an AFSCME member, but was told that there was a clause in the new contract that stated if the back pay wasn’t paid by July 1, 2013, then the state would not start charging for health insurance until it was.

    Has anyone else heard/read about this?


  20. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    Rod

    Just so everybody understands. The $154 million supplemental has nothing to do with the new contract. It is money owed from the previous contract. Money that an abitrator ruled is owed, and a judge agreed. Additionally, the judge ruled that the state must pay 7% interest. The longer this drags out the more the state owes. The union position is that it will not sign off on a new contract until the state fulfills its obligations under the old one. The $154 million is owed regardless of who does or doesn’t sign the new contract.

    “I for one question the legal authority of a contract between the Illinois Department of Central Management Services Bureau of Personnel and AFSCME Council 31 to dictate to the Illinois General Assembly that it must pass a $154 million supplemental appropriation. It seems that the General Assembly should pass or not pass the appropriation prior to finalizing the contract.

    The Constitution of Illinois declares that the “General Assembly by law shall make
    appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State.” Hence it seems clear thesupplemental appropriation should be made or not made before the contract becomes final”


  21. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 2:15 pm:

    My understanding is that the state can only begin charging the additional healthcare costs to employees if the employees receive the pay increases agreed upon as a part of the new contract.

    A side bar for those who haven’t heard. Due to a arbitration decision, step increases are going to be paid. Employees should see their step increases, including back pay, on their 1st May paycheck. Any step increases due for the rest of FY 13 will be honored as they come due.

    “Not an AFSCME member, but was told that there was a clause in the new contract that stated if the back pay wasn’t paid by July 1, 2013, then the state would not start charging for health insurance until it was.

    Has anyone else heard/read about this?”


  22. - Onlooker72 - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 2:15 pm:

    Where will it end. I don’t think that is entirely correct. The clause you are referring to says :
    Wage Rates and Insurance
    The wage provisions in teh agreeement are binding on the state, as has now been confirmed by a court decision. In addition, as further safeguard, the union secured contractual language state that, should teh employer fail to pay the full negotiated wage rate, teh employer is prohibitied from implementing any increased costs for health insurance.
    So that being said all they have to do is move everyone where they are supposed to be step related it doesn’t mention paying the back pay.


  23. - Onlooker72 - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 2:19 pm:

    There is also a memo from CMS to all employers telling them to move all employees up one step even the ones that have been frozen for two years. I haven’t seen that happen yet but perhaps next month they will start moving people up one step like they were directed to.


  24. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 2:25 pm:

    Since I wrote my last message a new e-mail came out from CMS. Now I am not sure who will see increases. The message last week said the step increases will be honored. Now CMS is saying some people will get some money, others nothing. The payments will be done on a “rolling” basis. Not all employees will receive payment at the same time, & will receive only partial payment.

    “There is also a memo from CMS to all employers telling them to move all employees up one step even the ones that have been frozen for two years. I haven’t seen that happen yet but perhaps next month they will start moving people up one step like they were directed to.”


  25. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 2:52 pm:

    @AFSCME:

    It will take a while to get all of this stuff straightened out. First there is the issue of getting everything in the system so that Step increases can be paid. Then there is an entirely separate issue of having to go back and re-calculate any OT or other pay that people should have received at a higher rate. I don’t even want to comment on the administrative nightmare of going back and giving the raises that were denied.

    As for the delay in some seeing their money it does not surprise me. We are approaching the end of the fiscal year and some agencies don’t have the money to make these payments without a supplemental appropriation. I’m guessing some agencies have to wait for that or, conversely, need to wait until the new fiscal year starts so that they at least have appropriation available to pay the back Step increases and raises. I feel sorry for the payroll people.


  26. - Concerned Retiree - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 3:01 pm:

    The AFSCME summary at the time of ratification indicated that all Medicare eligible retirees would be required to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan effective Jan 1, 2014. A Medicare Advantage plan takes the place of regular Medicare. SB 1515, House Amendments 1 and 2 appear to provided CMS the authority to contract for a program of health insurance for Medicare eligible retirees and dependents. Since Medicare Advantage is a federal program contracted by the federal government, I assume the contract language should have been Medigap which is a Medicare supplemental program. Anybody know anything about what CMS is preparing to contract for?


  27. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    Onlooker

    The back pay is not related to the new contract other than AFSCME’s position that the new contract will not be signed until the terms of the old contract are fulfilled, particularly the back pay issue.

    In addition to the correct step they also have to honor the 2% pay inccrease in order to pass on the increased healthcare costs.

    “So that being said all they have to do is move everyone where they are supposed to be step related it doesn’t mention paying the back pay.”


  28. - Onlooker72 - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 3:51 pm:

    AFSCME steward I don’t understand what you are trying to say to me?
    AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    Onlooker

    The back pay is not related to the new contract other than AFSCME’s position that the new contract will not be signed until the terms of the old contract are fulfilled, particularly the back pay issue.

    In addition to the correct step they also have to honor the 2% pay inccrease in order to pass on the increased healthcare costs.

    “So that being said all they have to do is move everyone where they are supposed to be step related it doesn’t mention paying the back pay


  29. - ??? - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 4:00 pm:

    Onlooker, the way I read AFSCME Steward’s comment, I think he/she is saying that there is nothing in the new contract that states that employees will receive retroactive raises/back pay. What he/she seems to be saying, if I’m understanding correctly, is that AFSCME will not sign the new contract until the terms of the old contract (retroactive pay raises)are honored.


  30. - Onlooker72 - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 4:05 pm:

    ???
    That is my take also but I never stated they would. I was typing word for word what was in the contract that we voted on. I never said the back pay had to be paid. I said all they had to do was move all employee to their correct step July 1 and then they could raise the health insurance. I never said they had to pay the back pay in order to be allowed to raise the health care costs.


  31. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 4:06 pm:

    Correct. There was an understanding as part of the settlement that Quinn would drop the appeal regarding the back pay & request the legislature to appropriate the money.

    “Onlooker, the way I read AFSCME Steward’s comment, I think he/she is saying that there is nothing in the new contract that states that employees will receive retroactive raises/back pay. What he/she seems to be saying, if I’m understanding correctly, is that AFSCME will not sign the new contract until the terms of the old contract (retroactive pay raises)are honored.”


  32. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 4:11 pm:

    Actually, AFSCME has said that if the money is not appropriated it will re-submit the contract for another vote. I guarantee you if that happens it will not be ratified.


  33. - Onlooker72 - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 4:19 pm:

    I agree because I would not vote for it.


  34. - Happy Camper - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 4:49 pm:

    It goes to show the email we received from CMS Labor Relations today “trying” to explain why we may not get our wages that are due and how some may have to wait a long time. Came out today from CMS via state employee email. Hmmm? Whose side is the union on….again?


  35. - Mason born - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 4:53 pm:

    So Quinn blames Madigan. Madigan blames GA. Meanwhile the Election they seem to be battering themselves about is what like 18 months away. can’t we get at least a few months with out obsessing over the next election? Shouldn’t they i don’t know at some point DO THEIR JOBS. I know i am an idealist.


  36. - LINK - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 7:55 pm:

    It would be nice if someone could either post the email(s) from CMS related to this mess or send them to Rich so he would hopefully link to their content - or lack thereon….

    Thank you!


  37. - Onlooker72 - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 8:17 pm:

    Link I emailed them to Rich.


  38. - jwscott72 - Thursday, Apr 25, 13 @ 8:29 pm:

    It was my understanding that the healthcare increases do not kick in unless/until they pay us the 2% raise on July 1. I don’t recall anything about the back step increases being part of that. I also didn’t get any email from CMS today regarding my back step increase (and I just checked my work account from home). Anyone have a copy of it? My question is this: does the AG even have the power to do what she’s doing? Seems to me that any plaintiff can tell his lawyer to drop a lawsuit and the lawyer has to comply.


  39. - Monte - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 5:43 am:

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who
    had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought
    me breakfast because I stumbled upon it for him… lol.
    So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!
    ! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk about this topic here
    on your blog.


  40. - KurtInSpringfield - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 7:35 am:

    jwscott72,

    You are right about the 2% pay raise on July 1, 2013. The only back pay that was part of the new contract was for step increases not given for this fiscal year (from July 1, 2012 to now). I for one was due a step increase on July 1 and still have not received it. Under the terms of the new contract, I am currently due a step increase plus 10 months of back pay for that increase.

    I sympathize with those who have not received their contractual increases from 2011 and fully support them. I also voted for the contract in part because of the “promise” the back pay lawsuit would be dropped and the previous contract honored in full. Even though I received my 2011 increases, I too, like AFSCME Steward and others, will not vote for the new contract if L. Madigan refuses to withdraw the pay raise lawsuit. If our political leaders refuse to honor one contract, and we do not hold them accountable, why would they honor any contract?

    I have not received emails from CMS or my agency regarding step increases. All I received was the email from Council 31 Rich referenced in this article.


  41. - KurtInSpringfield - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 7:41 am:

    One final thought on this issue of not honoring a contract.

    “There is no moral exemption for any man or body of men that breaks contracts. Nor is there any hope of public or private respect for a contract breaker. A contract breaker is an utter misfit as a citizen or a business man.”
    —Franklin MacVeagh, former President of the Commercial Club of Chicago and U.S. Secretary of Treasury
    [Address of Franklin MacVeagh to the Cincinnati Commercial Club, (May 26, 1905)]


  42. - LINK - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 8:52 am:

    Interesting that I never received the AFSCME email referenced above yet i am registered with them…


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