* From AFSCME Council 31’s Anders Lindall, regarding a post from earlier today…
As you know, AFSCME believes in bargaining at the table, not through the news media. But the letter of Jason Barclay leaked to you is riddled with misinformation that requires correcting.
Among many other false or misleading statements, the Administration claims it has told the union it will not lock out state employees. Aside from the terms of the time-limited, specific terms of the “tolling agreement,” the administration has never made any such commitment—and to the contrary, has actively recruited retired state employees as strike breakers and failed to deny considering the mobilization of the National Guard to break a strike. Our union has been clear that state employees don’t want a strike and in fact have never been forced to strike in more than 40 years of collective bargaining. If the Rauner Administration shares our commitment, why are they planning for a strike, except because they intend to force one?
With respect to the list of our union’s supposed contract proposals, in reality, the union has made very few and very modest proposals. A number of the examples listed are current policies, misleadingly presented. Among them, the “five weeks of vacation” cited by Barclay is current policy available only to employees with 25 or more years of service. The union has proposed no change. Likewise, the state’s step plan is longstanding practice and common among public employers nationwide, and here too the union has proposed no change. More generally, it is misleading and incendiary to suggest that we have “refused to move”. All proposals mentioned by Barclay are economic issues, while the parties have mutually agreed to resolve non-economic issues first. Because those non-economic talks continue, there has yet been no opportunity for us to exchange counter-proposals on economic matters.
In general, the union’s proposals are focused on improving public services, keeping those services under public control not contracted out for private profit, improving workplace and public safety, protecting the rights of public service workers to have a voice on the job, and ensuring that they can afford health care for themselves and their families while keeping pace with the rising cost of living.
Regarding the administration’s claimed “healthcare [sic] savings”, they have proposed no savings at all—only massive, unaffordable cost hikes for state and university employees, retirees and their families. The Rauner Administration’s extreme demands could increase out-of-pocket costs for health care by 500% and leave Illinois state workers with the worst health plan of any state workforce in the nation.
Finally, with respect to the list of 12 supposed “concessions” Barclay claims the administration has made, only two are accurate. After insisting for more than five months on a radical, unconstitutional demand that state employees voluntarily cut their own pensions, the administration finally dropped that demand only yesterday. And we have tentatively agreed to language defining ‘working supervisors’. The rest of the administration’s proposals remain on the table and have not been withdrawn.
I hope these facts are helpful to your readers.