* From Council 31…
AFSCME and the public-service workers we represent have worked hard to reach a fair agreement with the Rauner Administration, and we’re prepared to continue to do so. We reject the claim that the bargaining process is at an impasse.
It’s regrettable and damaging to the public interest that the governor has chosen a confrontational path. Just as Gov. Rauner is holding the state budget hostage, his “my way or no way” demands of state employees are the obstacle to a fair agreement. Rauner’s demands would force workers and their families pay double to keep their health care—making the Illinois state health plan the nation’s worst for any state workforce—while getting zero wage increase for four years. Instead of fairly compensating all workers, he wants to base bonuses on unknown criteria open to political favoritism. And the governor wants to wipe out protections against irresponsible privatization of public services. These are just some of more than 200 extreme demands the administration has made during this process.
Although we have serious disagreements with the governor’s positions, we reject the administration’s charge that we have not been “seriously negotiating.” The members of AFSCME’s rank-and-file elected bargaining committee have consistently responded to the administration’s demands with fair counterproposals. We’re committed to continuing to do so, and we don’t want disruption of the public services we provide. That’s why last summer we supported the option of both sides going before an independent arbitrator if our differences couldn’t be resolved by bargaining.
Unfortunately, the administration’s ongoing campaign of false claims about these negotiations makes compromise that much harder to achieve. Among their many misleading statements, the administration has never offered AFSCME the same terms as other unions. Some unions received vastly better terms on health insurance than those offered to AFSCME. Many others did not agree to a four-year pay freeze. We know of none who agreed to change hours of work or reduce overtime or holiday pay for employees who go above and beyond to serve. In any event, no union can be forced to accept the terms of other unions that have different circumstances and concerns.
The administration claims to want innovation, yet it has rejected our union’s proposals to work together to improve inmate rehabilitation programs in state prisons, rejected our proposals to ensure nondiscrimination in the hiring of women and minorities, and rejected our proposals for labor-management collaboration to improve public services.
Governor Rauner is wrong to walk away and try to end negotiations. Public-service workers who keep us safe, protect kids, respond to emergencies and care for the most vulnerable want to keep serving their communities, and they want to do their part to reach a fair agreement, but we can’t do it alone.
*** UPDATE 1 *** From the IFT…
100,000 IFT workers stand with AFSCME
WESTMONT, IL – In response to Governor Rauner’s move to declare impasse in negotiations with workers represented by AFSCME, Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery issued the following statement:
“Governor Rauner’s actions today prove once again that his priority is forced conflict, not progress. The 100,000 workers of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, some of whom are also state employees, are proud to stand with AFSCME as we face a deceptive and irresponsible Governor willing to use middle-class families, the most vulnerable, and our students as a wager in his fanatical game. Make no mistake: this isn’t in service of financial savings for the state. This is an ideological obsession unfit for a state leader forcing chaos to enact a reckless and unpopular agenda. Our members go to work each day trying to help others, trying to resolve conflict, trying to educate our children. Governor Rauner could learn a thing or two from them.”
In addition to teachers, school staff, and higher education faculty at community colleges and universities throughout Illinois, the IFT includes thousands of public employees under dozens of agencies and statewide officeholders.
*** UPDATE 1 *** From Cinda Klickna, President of the Illinois Education Association…
“The 130,000 members of the Illinois Education Association support the members of AFSCME as they try to negotiate a fair contract with a governor who seeks confrontation instead of compromise.
Rather than negotiate a fair contract, Governor Rauner seems focused on picking fights with the hard-working men and women who provide services to the people of Illinois.
It is shameful that, as he enters his second year as the state’s top constitutional officer, Gov. Rauner remains either unwilling or unable to govern. The people who elected him deserve much better service than they have received from Gov. Rauner.
We urge Gov. Rauner to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract with the public service workers who keep us safe, protect kids, respond to emergencies and care for Illinois’ most vulnerable. It is what he was elected to do.”