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AFSCME responds point by point

Monday, Feb 8, 2016

* Last week, the Rauner administration sent an e-mail to employees outlining its contract offers and AFSCME’s “bad faith” negotiations. Here’s AFSCME’s response…

Fact Check – Setting the Record Straight (AGAIN)

“Luxury” Health Plans?
Rauner Administration Claim: The average actuarial plan value (what federal regulations and insurance companies use to assess how rich a health plan is) for the State’s current plans is 92%… “Platinum” under the Affordable Care Act is defined as plans that are between 88 % and 92%. Platinum is the highest level under the Affordable Care Act-above Gold, Silver, and Bronze. And as mentioned, the State’s average plan value is 92%-the high end of Platinum…Moreover, to be clear: under the State’s proposal, employees will have the option to continue this rich coverage at higher premiums, should they so choose. Alternatively, employees would have the option to have less-rich coverage and maintain current premiums. Employees will not have to both pay higher premiums and receive less-rich coverage.

AFSCME Accurate: As AFSCME has consistently stated, the state’s current health plan is on par with the health benefits of other state workforces across the nation. The typical state government employee in this country is enrolled in a health plan with an actuarial value of 92%—the same plan value as Illinois currently has. Our health plan is simply not too rich as the Administration would like you to believe. (The “actuarial value” is based on plan design and reflects what employees pay in co-pays and deductibles, but does not take into account the amount employees pay in premium contributions.)

Terranova acknowledges that under the Administration’s proposal, in order to keep your current health care coverage you will have “higher” premiums. What he doesn’t say is that, in fact, your premiums will increase by 100%. Yes, as he points out, rather than paying those exceedingly high new premiums, you could choose to have less-generous coverage at your current premium level. But then your co-pays and deductibles would drastically increase, by an average of 250%.

Further, under the Administration’s proposal, employee premiums could increase by up to 10% more in both FY 18 and FY 19, no matter which option you choose. So even if you opted for what the Administration calls “less-rich coverage”, you would almost certainly pay both higher premium contributions and higher out-of-pocket costs over the term of the new contract than under the current plan.

Health Care Comparisons
Rauner Administration Claim: With retiree coverage included, Illinois pays nearly 3/4 of the total cost of coverage for its workers. In comparison, Indiana pays less than 45% of the total cost of coverage …. Even if we only look at coverage for active employees—where the State is proposing to pay 60% of costs—the State’s proposal is still better than many other States and on par with the private sector.

AFSCME Accurate: First, for retirees, the state contributes 5% of the premium cost for each full year of creditable service up to 100%. In FY 15, retirees and retiree dependents paid 12% of their total health care costs. Moreover, when John Terranova states that the proposal to pay 60% of health care costs is still “better than many other states”- he means better than just 4 states. The Administration’s proposal would move Illinois from average to bottom tier when it comes to the health benefits offered to employees.

Reduced Layoff Rights
Rauner Administration Claim: Myth: The State’s proposal would wipe out all job security rights. Fact: The State’s offer does not eliminate these rights. Layoffs would still happen in reverse seniority order. Employees would still have the opportunity to “bump” less senior individuals in the same position and qualifications. Employees would also still have the opportunity to transfer to other vacancies for which they are qualified.

AFSCME Accurate: In fact, the Administration’s original proposal would have completely eliminated bumping rights. Since it modified that proposal, what the Union is saying—and what Terranova conveniently fails to mention –is completely accurate: That under Management’s current proposal, employees would lose several bumping options, particularly the ability to bump into a lower classification, even one previously held.

Maximum Out-of-Pocket Limits
Rauner Administration Claim: Myth: If I have a major medical issue under the new insurance, there is no limit on what I could pay. I could go bankrupt! Fact: The Affordable Care Act has an annual out-of-pocket maximum of $6,850 for an individual. While that’s a lot of money, it prevents people from being financially ruined due to a medical issue. You can go here to fact-check this for yourself: http://obamacarefacts.com/health-insurance/out-of-pocket-maximum. The bottom line is no matter what coverage level employees select, there will be strict limits on how much each employee is going to be asked to pay in any given year.

AFSCME Accurate: This is a made-up myth. The Union isn’t saying there will be no limits—we’re saying that the limits will be unaffordable for many employees. Management never told the AFSCME Bargaining Committee what the new insurance plan would look like other than that it would be comparable to a ‘silver plan’ per the ACA. On the Illinois ACA exchange, the average ‘silver’ plan has out-of-pocket maximums of $6,400 for an individual and $12,800 for a family. Many employees facing serious medical problems could not afford that kind of expense in one year—and then the clock starts ticking all over again and they could have to pay those same amounts in the next year (and the year after, etc.) if their health problem persisted or new ones arose.

Merit Pay
Rauner Administration Claim: Myth: Merit pay is just political pay. Fact: Politics has nothing to do with it. In fact, the State would prohibit any Governor’s staff and appointees from being eligible for performance bonuses.

AFSCME Accurate: This misstates the issue. The Union doesn’t say merit pay is fundamentally political pay because it will only go to the governor’s staff and appointees. Rather, “political pay” refers to the fact that the Rauner Administration alone would determine what constitutes “exceptional performance standards,” and which employees qualify. We all know the kind of cronyism, favoritism, and pure politics that will enter into those judgments.

Not “substantially similar”
Rauner Administration Claim: Myth: The Governor is “now seeking to impose on state employees” his contract…. Fact: It is critical to mention that the last offer made by the State to AFSCME is substantially similar to the agreements signed by 17 other unions. These agreements were ratified in many cases by over 80% of state employees in those unions. This is not a radical or extreme contract as AFSCME has portrayed, but one that is fair, reasonable, and overwhelming accepted by several thousand State employees already.

AFSCME Accurate: Again, the contracts ratified by other unions were NOT “substantially similar.” They were far more generous than what is being offered to AFSCME and other unions still in negotiations with the Rauner Administration. AFSCME specifically asked across the bargaining table if the Administration would agree to the same employer health insurance contribution as that made to the Teamsters, and the answer from Management was absolutely not.

Labor Board
Rauner Administration Claim: By submitting this dispute to the Labor Board, the Governor did nothing more than invoke the very process to which both parties voluntarily agreed.

AFSCME Accurate: In reality, rather than merely “submitting” the matter to the Labor Board, the governor filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the Union on the grounds that AFSCME refuses to agree that negotiations are at impasse. In other words, he is objecting to the fact that the Union wants to continue negotiating to reach an agreement that is fair to all!

Refusal to Negotiate
Rauner Administration Claim: What the Governor is seeking, and AFSCME is refusing, is for AFSCME to submit the Governor’s actual proposal to employees for a vote. What better way is there to determine whether the proposal is deemed fair and reasonable by the very people whose work will be governed by that proposed contract?

AFSCME Truth: John Terranova attached Management’s proposal to the Union to his letter to employees and labeled it “for Tentative Agreement”. This is an attempt to mislead or confuse union members. AFSCME has NOT reached a Tentative Agreement with the Rauner Administration. In fact, the Administration is refusing to continue to negotiate to try to reach a Tentative Agreement. When one is reached, it will be presented to the full membership for a vote—as has been done in every set of contract negotiations over many decades. This is just a ploy by the governor to avoid returning to the bargaining table.

Teamster Comparison
Rauner Administration Claim: Myth: The Teamsters’ agreements provide “far more generous health insurance terms.” Fact: Comparing Teamsters’ health insurance to AFSCME’s is like comparing apples and platypuses. AFSCME employees’ health insurance is provided by the State, where the State charges premiums. Teamsters’ health insurance is provided by Teamsters’ own health and welfare funds. The State contributes to those funds but does not get to decide the level of coverage or premiums.

AFSCME Accurate: The issue is how much the Employer contributes toward each employee’s health care coverage, not who administers or designs the plan. In the proposal the Administration is trying to impose on AFSCME members, it would contribute only $967 per employee per month—a steep cut from the $1224 per employee per month the State currently contributes. In the Teamsters agreement, the Administration has already agreed to contribute $1,600 per employee per month—a big increase over the current $1224 contribution. This is a gross inequity.

Building Trades Comparison
Rauner Administration Claim: AFSCME claims the distinguishing feature is that the trades’ agreements do not include a wage freeze. But what AFSCME fails to mention is the trades get compensated on a wholly different metric, known as the prevailing wage.

AFSCME Accurate: Far from failing to mention the “prevailing wage”, AFSCME has put out a number of fact sheets and bulletins explaining that the building trades agreements are based on the prevailing wage.

Prevailing Wage
Rauner Administration Claim: That wage is determined through a certification process administered by the Department of Labor and is not guaranteed to increase during the course of the contract. In fact, the prevailing wage could go down over the life of the contract.

AFSCME Accurate: In recent years, the prevailing wage has gone up and very rarely gone down. AFSCME members, on the other hand, would have no possibility whatsoever of getting any wage or step increases for all four years under the Administration’s proposal.

Other Unions Haven’t Settled
Rauner Administration Claim: AFSCME stands alone in demanding guaranteed wage increases and luxury health insurance coverage.

AFSCME Accurate: AFSCME does not ‘stand alone’. There are six other unions that have not reached settlements with the state—and all of them are seeking wage increases and rejecting the Administration’s demand for huge health care cost hikes. Together, these seven unions represent more than 10 times the number of state employees represented by the unions that have settled.

Wage Comparison
Rauner Administration Claim: State employees in Illinois make more than their counterparts in other Midwestern States. For example, Illinois state workers made, on average, over $20,000 more per year in 2014 than state workers in Indiana or Missouri. In absolute dollars, Illinois state worker pay was third-highest.

AFSCME Accurate: Illinois ranks 9th nationally, not 3rd, for state employee pay. Illinois is in the top tier because, generally speaking, it is a high-wage state. Overall, Illinois wages rank 10th in the nation—putting state employees right on a par with their fellow citizens.

Bad Note-Taking
Rauner Administration Claim: Fact: Here’s what AFSCME’s Executive Director Roberta Lynch said during bargaining: “People who came up with this [merit pay proposal] ought to go to f**king prison . . . fact that you want to give measly 25% to some who are doing the job already . . . 75% of people not doing their best - that’s a f**king lie. I think it’s an insult to every single person who works for the State of Illinois.” Here’s how AFSCME interprets the above quote: “it wasn’t fair to leave out 75% of employees from getting a bonus, given the difficult jobs that employees do-and that whoever came up with that idea should try going and actually working in a prison so they’d know how hard the job is.” We appreciate that AFSCME’s Executive Director regrets her choice of words when she reads those words on paper. Nonetheless, she does not get to rewrite the history of negotiations based on what she wishes she has said.

AFSCME Accurate: The “history of negotiations”? Only if we want to let the Rauner Administration write our history for us. In reality, that supposed ‘quote’ is nothing more than what someone on Management’s team wrote down. He or she may have deliberately misrepresented the facts or was just a very poor note-taker. The whole AFSCME Bargaining Committee heard Roberta’s argument and knows that what the Union reported is what she was saying. In any event, AFSCME has no interest in getting into a prolonged argument over this—though it’s not accurate, the purported ‘quote’ shows Roberta standing up for union members.

Fair Arbitration Bill
Rauner Administration Claim: SB1229 was AFSCME’s attempt to … saddle the State’s taxpayers with a multi-billion dollar cost of AFSCME’s unreasonable contract proposal that it knew, under the existing laws, it could never get the State to agree to at the bargaining table.

AFSCME Accurate: The Union’s contract proposal is not “unreasonable” and does not cost “multi-billion” more dollars. The health care coverage and pay increases—averaging little more than 2% per year—that the Union proposed are comparable to those negotiated in union contracts with other states, cities and counties all across this country. The most recent US DOL data shows that the average pay raise for all U.S. workers last year was 2.5%.

Moreover, AFSCME has indicated time and again that the proposal the Union has on the table is not our final proposal. In fact, the Union has already modified our wage proposal and had done so again just last month, right before Management broke off negotiations. It is the governor who is refusing to negotiate, thus making clear that the Union is correct to press for passage of legislation that would require arbitration. If the Rauner Administration truly believed it had a reasonable and fair contract proposal, it wouldn’t hesitate to submit it to an independent arbitrator for consideration.

Passing HB 580
Rauner Administration Claim: HB580—another version of the same failed bill, which would strip the Governor of his constitutional authority—is as unaffordable and damaging now as it was then.

AFSCME Accurate: Under current labor law arbitration procedures have been in place for decades for law enforcement and fire safety employees all across Illinois. Neither the governor nor any other employer has a “constitutional authority” to control negotiations. The same law already requires him to submit to arbitration for security employees. If he thinks arbitration is unconstitutional, why hasn’t he challenged that provision in court? Because it’s not, of course. What the governor doesn’t like about arbitration is it allows an impartial third party to decide on a reasonable settlement, instead of letting the governor do an end run around the collective bargaining process and impose his own terms.

Rauner Administration Claim: This is as clear a signal as any that AFSCME is not interested in negotiating… AFSCME is only interested in imposing its will through an unelected, unaccountable arbitrator. This is bad faith in spades, and why the matter is now before the Labor Board.

AFSCME Accurate: An Administration that walks away from the bargaining table and flatly refuses to return says the Union doesn’t want to negotiate? That doesn’t pass the laugh test. In fact, our Union has clearly and consistently stated our willingness to continue to negotiate, while the Rauner Administration is trying to persuade the Labor Board to allow it to force its extreme demands on employees—or force the disruption that a strike would cause. In the end, we’ve come full circle—nearly three years ago, as a candidate, the governor said he wanted a strike—and he’s still doing his very best to try to provoke one now.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


65 Comments
  1. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:06 pm:

    Nice, nice, nice, nice. Way to do it AFSCME. That is how to take it down.


  2. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:09 pm:

    No doubt both sides are trying to present this in the light that is best for them. However, after looking at the contract last week, it looks like AFSCME is adhering closer to the truth than the administration.

    I was just getting ready to email my thoughts below when Rich popped up this article. While not exactly to the subject material, I feel it is relevant. If Rich wants to remove it or relocate it, that’s fine.

    ———————————————-

    Here is a modest proposal for breaking the State / AFSCME contract impasse. I came up with it over the weekend while thinking about some of the state labor history I commented on last week. I’m sure this will infuriate both sides, so it might be a reasonable compromise.

    Let’s start with a few items most reasonable people will agree is true.

    1) The unions aren’t going away.

    2) The unions will never surrender on the issue of job security.

    3) The union members want to keep their health insurance.

    4) The unions members want raises.

    5) Rauner needs some budget savings from labor.

    6) Rauner wants to destroy the unions’ perceived political clout, which is why he wants to eliminate fair share / dues collection in order to stave the unions of their financial support.

    7) If he can’t do that, he wants to drastically weaken the benefits of being in a union.

    8) Part of the “union problem” is the large growth in wages over the past 15 to 30 years.

    9) Another part is the public perception of various work rules, such as the 37.5 hour work week and similar items.

    The problem is how to resolve these differences. Here are a few suggestions. However, both sides will have to approach this with a willingness to take what they can get and try to make it work.

    A) Agree to a 40 hour work week with the federally mandated 15 minute breaks counted as part of the 40 hours. Lunch time is not part of the 40 hours. This is not really a change so much as clearing up the semantics.

    B) Agree that overtime pay doesn’t start until 48 hours but that any time required over 40 hours for times like shift overlap is paid time.

    C) Agree that normal hours worked up to 48 per week are pensionable. Mandatory overtime is also pensionable; voluntary overtime is NOT pensionable. Not sure the State timekeeping systems can handle that distinction but I think it is important.

    D) Concede that the combination of both step raises and annual union won increases are part of the wage problem and it should be one OR the other, not both. Union raises would only apply to people not eligible, repeat, eligible for step raises.

    E) Concede the automatic step increase (originally from the Civil Service System) needs some reform. Recognize the Governor’s desire to implement a performance based method. Compromise on a step raise design that reflects performance evaluations. Instead of the automatic step raise every 12 months, my proposal is step raises can be granted anywhere between 6 months and 24 months based on the evaluation or, if not granted before that point, automatic at 24 months. That would allow rewarding high performers while penalizing slackers. I realize even this proposal would potentially be subject to abuse also, but it would be fairer than Rauner’s proposal.

    F) Scale back the health insurance premium increase to 50% and drop the poison pill of losing retiree / retiree dependent insurance in retirement if you opt for a better than baseline health insurance plan. Whether or not to change it for new hires could be a negotiating point.

    G) The state drops attempts to weaken job security and bumping rights.

    H) The state agrees to continue collecting dues / fair share fees and forwarding to the unions in a timely manner.

    I) The contract to run through FY19.

    Feel free to tear this apart but it just might be the kind of reset needed to get to a contract if both sides would agree to start at this point.


  3. - Louis G. Atsaves - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:11 pm:

    My congrats to AFSCME for doing a point-by-point rebuttal. It finally gives the rest of us not in those negotiations an opportunity to intelligently review the various issues posed by both parties.

    Why doesn’t the actuarial values include premium deductions from employee paychecks on health care? Just curious here.


  4. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:19 pm:

    In this he said, she said scenario one must judge based upon trust and credibility. So far the trust and credibility meter has been pointing away from Rauner.


  5. - cdog - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:26 pm:

    Excellent rebuttal. Needs to be front and center in mainstream media. You know, “fair and balanced.” /s

    As we all read this rebuttal, we all know that the Rauner Administration is/has been/will be as non-transparent, misleading, and secretive with unclear motives, as can be imagined.

    Because of this type of leadership from the GOP, we are watching the decline and degradation of the conservative Republican Party. Millennials smell this cr*p a mile away.


  6. - cdog - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:29 pm:

    RNUG, “overtime pay doesn’t start until 48 hours”

    I have been through a no-findings federal and a state labor audit, and I was under the impression that it was FLSA that OT had to be paid after 8, or after 40 (employer choice). I could be wrong.


  7. - Anonnymouse - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:30 pm:

    Excellent, excellent ideas, RNUG, but if you’ll recall, Rauner doesn’t want a deal. Unions just need to “go away”.


  8. - Facts are Stubborn Things - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:33 pm:

    pension proposal for Rauner to offer: all current tier 1 employees a choice of keeping their current 3% compounded AAI (once they retire) or a bonus (NOW) based on their pay in exchange for a 3% simple interest AAI upon retirement. This bonus could be significant and still allow the state to save much money while giving employees what would be a current large windfall and yet retain their basic pension plan other then the simple interest vs compounding. I know the huge effect of compounding, however, for a large current bonus I believe many workers, with say more then 10 years from retirement, might take the offer. Allow the bonus to be rolled into 457 account so that workers closer to retirement might view taking some cash now and the balance into the 457 as an option. Again, I believe this bonus could be quite large and still give state savings and enough of a windfall to entice many current workers into taking it.


  9. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:34 pm:

    -cdog-,

    I’m defer to you on that.


  10. - Hieronymus - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:40 pm:

    The actuarial value of the plan refers to the percentage of medical expenses covered by that plan. What is not covered would be copays, deductibles, out of pocket expenses. A given plan has a total premium cost, some of which may be covered by an employer as “fringe benefit”.


  11. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:42 pm:

    -Facts-

    Because I’ve spent so much time looking at pensions, it would need to be north of $200K and probably closer to $400K for me to even bother running the comparison numbers. It would be a big mistake for anyone who plans to collect a state pension. But if you are just someone passing through for a few years, then I would take the money and run.


  12. - sparky791 - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:44 pm:

    - Facts are Stubborn Things -

    I have two years left so no brainer for me on which one I would take.

    If I were taking bonus I would want cash in my hand before I would ever agree to it. Not exactly a trustworthy partner we are dealing with here.


  13. - Skeptic - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:51 pm:

    From the Teamsters contract, lay-offs, Sec. 3, Paragraph E. “No permanent employees shall be laid off until [temp, hourly and PT employees] are terminated. That’s the same as in the AFSCME proposal…except the AFSCME proposal has “Personal Services and Vendor Contract” workers language removed. So, is that “substantially similar?” In my mind, no.


  14. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:55 pm:

    A. Agreed
    B. Oof that would get abused and we’d seen an influx of mandatory overtime from 40-48 hrs then stop.
    c. Agreed
    d. option A Keep the steps for the newer folks. that being said money could be saved by modifying what jobs gets steps. Jobs like janitorial should only get a few steps spread out. Jobs like mine should get steps according to your scheme.
    e. agreed in principle. Right size the steps. I’m a caseworker. The first three years there is high upfront investment, a huge amount of learning, and fairly high turnover. The state should probably make HSC steps every twelve month for the first few years then spread them out. Get what I’m saying? Right size the steps. As former military I’m cool with evaluation as long as it’s objective and agreed upon. Management needs to be evaluated too. Just like military fitreps.
    F. Jesus, even 50% may take a lot of folks out of state service. Look, I even have to pay that increase 2x. My spouse is also with the state. It’s not like the private sector where one of us carries the rest of the family. I have to pay double of whatever the increase is. I honestly don’t know if we can do that. This is the killer here. Okay inside baseball ( a lot of the folks here at DHS were once on the other side of the desk, meaning struggled with poverty. We have a lot of asthma, diabetes, and other illnesses associated with poverty amongst our workforce. Not complaining since these folks made it out. But I’m thinking of my coworkers who are constantly struggling with illness themselves or family illness. No they aren’t malingerers. One coworker was just out with terrible arthritis and needed steroid treatment.) So healthcare costs can spiral out of control. Also the 40% out of pocket comes into play with out of network providers.
    G. Agreed
    H. Agreed
    I. Agreed
    J. Union agrees to drop holidays like Lincolns birthday etc. Keep general election day though.

    Great Job RNUG, great job. Bless you for the effort. I wish people would treat us with the same respect you just did. Thanks


  15. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:56 pm:

    -Facts-

    The other problem with your proposal is the payouts today would ave to come out of GRF (immediate cash flow) and the savings are in the SERS pension fund (deferred savings) which translate to a relatively miniscule savings out of GRF today. That doesn’t work real well when the State is already short of cash to pay their bills.


  16. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:01 pm:

    Another AFSCME attempt to spin their inability to negotiate. Do your members a favor and hire professional negotiators. You’re in over your head here.


  17. - Threepwood - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:03 pm:

    Regarding merit pay as currently proposed, I don’t understand why the union is choosing to die on that particular hill. Yes, it’ll be vulnerable to abuse. So what? As I understand it, these are bonuses entirely separate from other aspects of compensation, so agreeing to it doesn’t cost the union anything. Fighting it allows the admin to portray the union as philosophically opposed to the idea of rewarding good performance. If it’s abused, that will make the admin look bad, not the union. Maybe I’m missing something?


  18. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:04 pm:

    -Honeybear-

    I recognize F is a biggie but notice I said 50% over if you opt for the current level insurance as opposed to the lower baseline Rauner wants. It’s not pretty, I’ll be the first to admit it … but it does reflect the rest of the world where health insurance costs have been soaring and coverage dropping.

    And you do make a good point about how some titles should probably have different step schedule, just be a bit tougher to administer.


  19. - Allen D - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:06 pm:

    - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 1:09 pm:
    good list … here is my take;

    While I can agree with 1,2,3,4,5,8,9,A,C the rest are subjective;
    6) I agree the Governor wants to eliminate Fair Share yes and I agree with this, for no job should you be forced to join a Union to have the job.
    7) Unions, in my opinion have too much political control and thus as in the past years have stripped the State of Illinois with repeated demands that have gone unchecked.
    B) I don’t believe standard work time can be stretched to 48 hours per Federal Labor Laws, I could be wrong here though and if so it is a good point to work with if it doesn’t get abused.
    D,E) I think with as much above the norm as all of us Employees are being paid we should FREEZE the pay for the contract duration and work on the step problem of the time. This would allow the state to get back to business and no one is really going to hurt from freezing the pay really…
    F) I can’t comment on the insurance, I have my own and don’t use the States Ins. My spouses insurance is much better. While we are on the subject of INS. It would be an advantageous question to ask is how many state employees are retired military? Retired military have their own family coverage insurance better than the States insurance. How many state employees are Disabled Veterans who have the VA medical system? There are many in my area that are one or both and do not use the State’s insurance.
    G) Again Unions are too strong to begin with… I agree with keeping bumping rights.
    H) Fair Share should go away. Union membership should be voluntary not a job requirement…
    I) I can agree with a contract anywhere 2-4 years.


  20. - x ace - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:06 pm:

    Lot of blood spilled over lot of years in the fight for an 8 hour work day and to get the 1937 Fair Labor Standards Act which mandates OT for all hours over 40 in a work week. ( with some exceptions)

    Even if possible ,think negotiating away any OT would be unwise and denigrating to the memory of those who fought and died in the quest for Worker’s Rights.

    Granted, working in a State Office ain’t same as working in a Mine , Mill or Foundry , but still…


  21. - Reality Check - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:10 pm:

    RNUG, Rauner gave Teamsters $1600 per employee per month on health care. That’s a big jump from the current $1224. So why in the world should anyone else agree to pay higher premiums?


  22. - anon - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:15 pm:

    RNUG–Your plan sounds pretty good. However, I just want to add some more info about the 37.5 hour work weeks. State employees get paid 2x/month, not every 2 weeks. So, there are many pay periods which cover more than 10 days (never less); however, the pay remains the same. I think most state employees would be fine with 40 hour work weeks, but then the pay would need to reflect this (i.e. paid every 2 weeks, as many non-government employees do).


  23. - Anonnymouse - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:17 pm:

    anon +1


  24. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:25 pm:

    -Anon-

    I worked 30+ years for the State. You missed my point. Regardless of the pay period, you are at work, not counting lunch hours, for 40 hours. There are 2 federally required 15 minute mandatory breaks each day, so you are only working a 37.5 week. You are already working a 40 hour week when those breaks are included. Changing the language to say 40 hours with the breaks included is no different, just semantics to take away the whole 37.5 hour work week talking point narrative. No difference in hours worked means no need to change pay.


  25. - Sense of a Goose - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:26 pm:

    Certainly, management is trying to tighten up a contract that the union admitted several years ago was the ‘best in the nation.’ So what does AFSCME offer to show it is part of the solution? That would take the boogeyman away from the governor. Force him to be reasonable by being reasonable. Keeping the best contract in the nation may not do it.


  26. - bwana63 - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:27 pm:

    Think the Trib would print this?


  27. - There is power in a union... - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:27 pm:

    Anon has a good point. We get paid twice a month on set days. Take our salary and divide by 24. That’s our gross. Pay periods are 1-15 and 16 - end of month. Pay periods tend to have 10 or 11 work days. But a lot have 12. Regardless the check is the same.


  28. - There is power in a union... - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:34 pm:

    A work day is 8.5 hours long. Minus an hour unpaid lunch it is 7.5. Increasing it to 40 adds a half hour of work a day.

    People keep mixing up the breaks and lunch. 2 different things. And as far as I know fed law only says you must have a 20 minute meal break after 6 hours.


  29. - Allen D - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:39 pm:

    That is a good point about the two 15 min brakes, however, they are part of the 37.5 hour work day anyway… they are paid breaks… the unpaid lunch is what is not included in the 37.5 hour computation… if you add back in the 30 min unpaid lunch you are at 40 hours, but you are not working that 30 minutes, hence the 7.5 hour paid period per day and 37.5 per week.


  30. - Moby - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:39 pm:

    Rich, isn’t there some “friend of Capitol Fax” who could do a down-and-dirty evaluation of national public employee contracts and then put Rauner’s and AFSCME’s proposals on some continuum for the layperson to decipher?

    For instance:

    Horrible 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Avg 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Excellent

    If AFSCME’s proposal is a 2 on the “Excellent” side and Rauner’s proposal is a 9 on the “Horrible” side, then everyone will know the true story. But, then again, I guess that’s what an arbitrator does.


  31. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:41 pm:

    -There is power in a union …-

    Again, the deal is a monthly salary and you calculate the annual rate, then devide by the work days. On an annual basis, you are getting so much an hour. And it’s still a 40 hour work week with 2.5 hours out for mandated breaks. If you want paid every 2 weeks, you are going to be paid LESS per period, not more. It’s just semantics; you are already working a 40 hour week.


  32. - Allen D - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:43 pm:

    I forgot that most 7.5 hour AFSCME employees get an hour break for lunch, I get a 30 min brake for lunch but it all works out the same.


  33. - Truthteller - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:44 pm:

    Rauner has said the offer to AFSCME was materially the same as what the Teamsters agreed to. Clearly it’s not.Why doesn’t Rauner offer AFSCME and the other unions (there are about 5 or 6) the same money for insurance?
    Could it be he doesn’t want an agreement?
    Could it be he’s now caught in yet another lie?


  34. - HangingOn - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:44 pm:

    ==no one is really going to hurt from freezing the pay ==

    I’m lucky some months, after mortgage, childcare, groceries, etc, to have $20 left per paycheck. I have been with the state only 2 years and kind of looked forward to those steps so I could buy myself underwear without feeling guilty. Then raise my insurance $105 per paycheck and I get to decide between insurance and things like food and electricity. Guess I don’t make the massive amount of money you do.


  35. - There is power in a union... - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:46 pm:

    Allen, are you flex? A lot of people in my building do a 9-5 with a 30 minute lunch. Still adds up to 7.5.


  36. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:46 pm:

    Allen D. The Supreme court Friedricks decision is expected to take away fairshare so no worries for you there. The problem is though that Citizens united gave corporations far more power to raise insane amounts of money for politicians. That is where you should worry. Unions were outspent by corporations 5 to 1 in the 2014 elections in Illinois (I think that’s the ratio.) Anyway, unions really aren’t anywhere near as powerful as Raunerites make them out to be. Remember it’s money coming from individuals, and not wealthy ones at that. What millionaire/billionaire do you know that gives money to or on behalf of unions? No, to say we are too powerful is laughable. Sure we can cause one hell of a problem when we unite and fight. But it’s about money these days and we don’t have much of that. I do appreciate your cost saving ideas about military healthcare benefits. I can tell you’re trying to come up with compromise. Here’s the deal. We do, I’m sure by now, have the smallest state workforce per capita. I’m not trying to be dramatic but I really do worry about a collapse and mass exit out of our state workforce. Dude, we are losing function at my office. It’s rob Peter to pay Paul everywhere. We were moving from a caseworker/load model to a team/task based office system. ie instead of seeing a caseworker, work/customers see different teams of people. Thus I’m seeing customers today, processing what I can right then or passing it off to a large team of processors. Because we have lost 28% of our caseworkers (half of those retired, the other half left because of the BS of what Rauner was doing and the difficulty of the work), workers are running around fighting fires. I’ll being doing a task one minute, then rerouted to another. We struggle daily to process timely, keep the lobby clear, answer all the calls, return calls. It’s all a struggle now. We’re understaffed and pulled six ways to Sunday. Then we have to deal with the derision and loathing in the media when we go home. It’s like we’re convicts or something. Anyway, I can tell you’re trying to come up with solutions and I do honestly appreciate it. It’s nice to see you not in troll mode.


  37. - Chicagonk - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:50 pm:

    I don’t see what point any of this public back and forth serves. Clearly the negotiations are at an impasse.


  38. - There is power in a union... - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:52 pm:

    Gonk, one side disagrees. It’s an important distinction.


  39. - Red Tiger - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:54 pm:

    Allen D, fair share only employees are not union members. That fact has been stated here many times. Only full members can vote, those that pay fair share only cannot. The fair share covers union costs for negotiating the contract. If someone doesn’t want to pay for the cost of negotiating benefits negotiated they should not be a recipient of those benefits.


  40. - kitty - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:55 pm:

    RNUG, I hope your reasonable proposals receive consideration, I respect and admire your wisdom. Absent protections against unlimited privatization and due process for those subject to layoff, little else matters. Skeptic’s comment about AFSCME contract language, re: personal services and vendor contracts, is critical. Mr. Rauner wants to impose virtually unlimited outsourcing and eliminate the ability of older (typically Tier 1) employees to avail themselves of long established due process such as bumping rights. Older employees with the fewest prospects for new employment will be deliberately singled out and targeted for layoff.


  41. - Crispy Critter - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:59 pm:

    Allen D - get your facts straight before blabbing. AFSCME workers have an 8.5 hour day, 1 hour lunch, and 30 minutes of that lunch is not paid. Many factories work 3 shifts of 8 hours with 30 minute paid lunch for a 7.5 hour actual work day. Just because you don’t have that does not mean others in the private sector don’t get that. I also worked in manufacturing and had that and also had insurance equal or better than the state. I came to the state for better hours but took a 50% cut in pay. Took 10 years to get back to the same pay. Working for the state does not make us rich, just better working conditions normally.


  42. - Forgottonian - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:00 pm:

    Also there can could some compromise on the double bump involved when there is a step increase plus the semi automatic promotion. It has historically the semi automatic included a he step first, then the promotion to be equal or greater than the next step, a double bump or more. Perhaps the semi automatic gets only one bump which would at least be equal to the next step in the title being promoted from.


  43. - There is power in a union... - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:07 pm:

    RNUG, with respect it is not a 40 hour work week.

    The “normal” day shift is 8:30am to 5pm. That is 8.5 hours. You get an hour unpaid lunch. That makes it 7.5 hours. Because you might work from 8:30 to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. So that’s a 4.5 hour chunk plus a 3 hour chunk. Hence the 7.5. Times 5 that is 37.5 hours.

    Expanding it to 40 adds an “extra” 30 minutes to my day with no extra pay. Because my pay is based on my base salary divided by 24. So under management’s proposal my supervisor can “mandate” me to stay till 5:30pm every single day with no extra money. And if I’m sick that sick day doesn’t count towards my “40.” So they can then mandate me to do a double that week. With not extra money.

    Now if that is your “intent” then so be it. But I take issue with the statement that it a basically the same because it isn’t. 37.5 is not 40. You are essentially expanding our work days by 30 minutes every single day.


  44. - Mama - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:12 pm:

    Allen D @ 2:06L If ‘Fair Share’ should go away - -The only way for that to be fair is to change the law that forces the unions to represent those who are not in the union. Plus any gains made by the union should not be given to the non-union workers.


  45. - Thoughts Matter - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:12 pm:

    We need to standardize the work week, it appears. I work 8-12, take a half hour unpaid lunch, and work 12:30 - 4:30. That’s a 7.5 hour work day, 37.5 hours a week. My paid 15 minute breaks are to be taken during that 7.5 hour day. I have no problem staying a half hour extra per day— but my base pay is going to need to be increased by something. I don’t want to give you that half hour for free day in and day out.


  46. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:16 pm:

    -There is power in a union …-

    OK, we’ll say it is an increase in hours without an increase in pay. Youneed to give the administration / Rauner some wins … and the whole 37.5 hour workweek is a Public Relations nightmare.

    So it comes down to this: Would that be worth it to you to keep job security and hold down the the health insurance premium increase?


  47. - There is power in a union... - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:19 pm:

    Ok Rnug I get what you are saying now. Thanks for your patience.


  48. - Mama - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:25 pm:

    ++- Chicagonk @ 2:50 pm: I don’t see what point any of this public back and forth serves. Clearly the negotiations are at an impasse.++
    Chicagonk, you clearly don’t work for the state. If you did, you would see the point.


  49. - Frenchie Mendoza - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:36 pm:


    37.5 is not 40. You are essentially expanding our work days by 30 minutes every single day.

    Yes it is. The 37.5 excludes the two 15 minute breaks per day. In theory. it’s an 8 hour day. But it’s 7.5 of actual work, 30 minutes of unpaid breaks.

    Seems normal.

    Call it 8 hours? Fine — but I’m still going to take my 2 15 minute breaks. So I’ll actually work 7.5 hours, break for 30 mins.

    7.5 hours = 7.5 hours


  50. - There is power in a union... - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:41 pm:

    Frenchie, no it’s not.

    8:30am to 5pm. Minus 1 hour unpaid lunch equals 7.5 hours. (Which yes have two 15 minute paid breaks in there.) 7.5 times 5 is 37.5 not 40.

    The state’s proposal is to wait till we hit 40 hours till OT gets paid out. Which means work till 5:30pm. 8:30am to 5:30pm minus an unpaid hour lunch equals 40.


  51. - Earnest - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:43 pm:

    RNUG’s proposal has specifics–best place to begin a discussion. Unfortunately, Rauner has not demonstrate any behavior that he will abandon his primary business skill: do what I want or I will destroy you.


  52. - Anonnymouse - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:50 pm:

    -Would that be worth it to you to keep job security and hold down the the health insurance premium increase?-

    Yes.Absolutely.


  53. - There is power in a union... - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 3:50 pm:

    Article 12 sections 1,2,3,4,5,6, and 11 cover this. Depends on your RC classification. But the 2 15 minute “rest periods” are considered paid time and count towards work time. Which means they are part of the 7.5 hours of compensated time. (I’ve been a timekeeper for 3 agencies and we always put the employee in for 7.5 hours of “day shift” unless they use ABT, work OT, or are on leave. And these are for 8:30-5 shifts.)


  54. - Crazy Horse - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 4:01 pm:

    @Allen D.

    “6) I agree the Governor wants to eliminate Fair Share yes and I agree with this, for no job should you be forced to join a Union to have the job.”

    Who forced you to take the job? Why did you even interview? Personally, I’d never take a job if it was against my principles. I’d rather work just about anywhere else. I guess that’s just me though.


  55. - Forgottonian - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 4:10 pm:

    I worked as a retail sales person for many years and my full time work schedule was between 37.5 and 39 hours. This allowed a little wiggle room in case I was in the middle of helping a customer and couldn’t leave until atlfter my shift officially ended. Overtime was not an option but when it occurred it was for any time over 40 hrs. I worked past my shift ending many times but rarely worked overtime. I got an hour unpaid lunch plus paid breaks.


  56. - Omega Man - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 4:11 pm:

    Job security is the main objective. Holding down health insurance increases is second. Hoping to get any kind of small raise is third. Everything else is small potatoes.


  57. - Forgottonian - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 4:15 pm:

    Like I said, I worked retail for many years and that meant evenings, weekends and most holidays. In my opinion, union dues or fair share fees are a small price I gladly pay to not have to work those hours anymore.


  58. - Forgottonian - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 4:17 pm:

    Omega man. Agreed.


  59. - Omega Man - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 4:28 pm:

    Federal law mandates overtime after 40 hours of work, not 40. SEIU will soon have that. Rauner’s response was to limit them to 40 hours per week (or else). My guess is that violators will be fired and their jobs privatized.


  60. - Omega Man - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 4:29 pm:

    I meant to say “not 48″.


  61. - kitty - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 4:29 pm:

    Omega Man @4:11 +1. Job security is more important than any other single aspect and arguably, most others combined.


  62. - Skirmisher - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 4:30 pm:

    RNUG- Really excellent set of compromise proposals. Both sides need to put some thought into such a reasoned compromise approach.


  63. - Mytwocents - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 5:59 pm:

    I’m in the office 40 hours a week. Since we are not allowed to leave the facility for lunch, without special permission from boss, I consider my 30 min lunch as a paid lunch. And breaks? What are those? Lol. I have so much work that I rarely get to take any breaks.


  64. - Allen D - Tuesday, Feb 9, 16 @ 9:09 am:

    We work from 7:30 to 3:30 5adays straight, take out the 30 minute lunch and there you have it… 7.50 hours per day.

    If you have an hour lunch as most AFSCME employees if you worked here, it would be 7:30 to 4pm take away the hour lunch and you still have 7.50 hours a day… the 15 min breaks are paid time. I emailed my Admin also to make sure.
    response ==
    “The Employer shall provide for one (1) 30-minute or 60-minute meal break and two (2) 15-minute rest breaks in each
    shift of seven or more hours, one (1) 30-minute meal break and one (1) 15-minute rest break in each shift. the breaks are to be paid time.”

    that settles it for my Division of RC-14 at least.


  65. - Allen D - Tuesday, Feb 9, 16 @ 9:13 am:

    – Honeybear - Monday, Feb 8, 16 @ 2:46 pm: The Supreme court Friedricks decision is expected to take away fairshare so no worries for you there.–

    You are correct and I hope it is true… and for your Information I am not Fair Share, I am a full Union Member so I can vote some sensible conservative values at the meetings…


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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