* Press release…
Governor Bruce Rauner today announced the creation of two task forces aimed at improving workplace environments for state employees. The Health and Safety Task Force and the Workplace Violence Task Force, both part of the state’s last, best and final offer and proposed by the union during contract negotiations, will be comprised of representatives from the administration and the union.
“These task forces will be instrumental in improving the day-to-day work environment for state employees,” Governor Rauner said. “It is our hope that union leaders will work with our administration to get these union-proposed task forces off the ground quickly so that the state can benefit from their recommendations as soon as feasibly possible.”
The Health and Safety Task Force will identify state agencies, programs or specific worksites that have a high number of serious job-related injuries; analyze the principle cause of job-related employee injuries or illnesses; review current “best practices” to determine how other employers have been able to reduce job-related injuries and illnesses; and develop recommendations for changes to work environments or enhanced employee education and training. Recommendations from the task force are to be issued within twenty-four months of the initial meeting.
The Workplace Violence Task Force will develop recommendations to reduce the risk of violence in the workplace and protocols for employees to follow for when they believe they are faced with safety and health issues that could result in immediate harm.
To many eyes, this is going to look very reasonable on the governor’s part.
* Meanwhile, the SJ-R recently published an editorial entitled “Time for AFSCME to put its cards on the table”…
Rauner is under no obligation to negotiate. We recommend that he does, but only — and this is mandatory in our eyes — if a hard-and-fast expiration date is set so both sides come ready to negotiate. AFSCME must come to the table with a proposal that indicates the union understands just how precarious Illinois’s finances are. […]
AFSCME told this editorial board it hasn’t presented its last/best offer. Here’s their chance: Publicly release it. Let the public know what you’re asking for, so taxpayers can judge the merits.
The union should not dismiss some of the pragmatic proposals that the Rauner administration says are in its plan. Overtime kicking in after working 40 hours would mirror the federal standard. Getting 2 times pay, instead of 2.5 times pay, for working the “super holidays” of Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas seems generous as the private sector typically gets time and a half.
While the motivations might have been purely political, two moves by the Rauner administration have made it seem responsive and inclusive. The union wanted bereavement leave for AFSCME members for the death of a child or stepchild — Rauner says he will implement it. The merit pay plan for the first year will provide $1,000 bonuses based on attendance, and the governor wants union input on who should receive it for the remainder of the contract.
The union needs to provide a different narrative if it expects any public pressure on the governor to return to the bargaining table. AFSCME must show taxpayers that it understands cuts to personnel costs will be needed to help the state improve its financial situation. But this also is its chance to provide evidence for what a doubling of health care costs would mean for employees making $30,000 a year, and offer alternatives so we have something to compare. Make it compelling, so the governor’s administration would look unreasonable to not give it consideration.
…Adding… From Council 31…
Our committee was still negotiating when the Rauner Administration walked away back in January. There is no “last” offer to present because negotiations had not reached that point when the governor cut them short.
Ever since, we have repeatedly indicated our willingness to continue to negotiate, but Rauner has refused. It’s good that both the Journal-Register (and the Journal-Star) have now said the governor should return to the table. Lawmakers of both parties have said the same.
It’s also worth noting here that the ALJ found, and the board affirmed, that the administration committed multiple violations of labor law (unfair labor practices) in refusing to provide basic information requested by the union in order to develop further proposals on many core issues.