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AFSCME tries to “jumpstart” contract talks

Monday, Jan 9, 2017

* Press release…

One year and one day since Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration broke off contract negotiations with the largest union of public service workers in state government, AFSCME is taking the initiative to jumpstart constructive dialogue. The union has sent the governor a letter outlining a new settlement framework which significantly modifies AFSCME’s previous positions on core economic issues.

The elements of the AFSCME framework include the following:

    ✓ Employees would forgo any increases in base wages in all four years of the contract.
    ✓ Employees would pay increased health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles in FY 17, 18 and 19 as determined by an independent arbitrator in the recent interest arbitration regarding contract terms for Illinois state troopers.
    ✓ All employees would receive the amounts the governor has already proposed to expend on bonuses—$1,000 per employee in the first year of the contract and 2% of payroll in each subsequent year—as one-time payments in each of those years.
    ✓ In order to prevent large pay differentials among employees performing the same work, the 40% of employees eligible for continued movement through the pay plan would move to the next step in FY 18 and 19.
    ✓ Further negotiations on all other outstanding issues.

“Our union remains ready to return to bargaining,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “We know that Illinois residents rely on public service workers in state government to protect children from abuse, aid our veterans, respond to emergencies, keep our air and water clean, and much more. We want to keep Illinois working, without the potential disruption of a statewide strike.”

The Rauner Administration broke off negotiations on Jan. 8, 2016, and has refused to meet with the union bargaining team in the intervening year. Instead the governor asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board, whose members he appoints, to declare an “impasse” in negotiations, thus opening the door for Rauner to impose his own terms on state workers. Rauner’s demands include:

    • No salary increases for four years;
    • A 100% hike in employee premiums for health care (forcing workers to pay double their current health costs) in the first year alone; and
    • Withholding all scheduled movement through the pay plan for the newest-hired and often lowest-paid workers.

In all, Rauner’s demands equate to a $10,000 pay cut for the average state worker. By trying to impose those terms, the governor is threatening to force state employees out on strike for the first time in more than 40 years of collective bargaining.

“Our framework recognizes the state’s fiscal problems and shows that state employees will do their part to help address them,” Lynch said. “Employees would pay more for health insurance in three of the four years while receiving no increase to their base salary for four years, so the costs to the state are extremely modest.

“We think compromise, not conflict, is the way to move Illinois forward,” she said. “Let’s get back to the bargaining table and work toward an agreement that’s fair to all.”

The letter is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - MAD MAX - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:40 pm:

    It’s too bad the Union doesn’t think to mention “privatization”, since it would play a whole lot more in the public’s eye; NO JOB is a whole lot worse than a $10K cut.

  2. - Union Man - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:41 pm:

    The Governor’s office already released a list of 50 vendors approved to do I.T. work for the state. Guess which country these employees would come from?

  3. - Nick Name - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:43 pm:

    Standard word salad response from ck in 3…2…1…

  4. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:44 pm:

    Has AFSCME setup a strike fund?

  5. - Honeybear - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:45 pm:

    Finally! I have been waiting for this move for a while. I think this is a fair proposal. But there again it would deny some the schadenfreude they crave to see loyal public servants be financially ruined. Sure there are tier 1 employees that have cadillac benefits, wages, and pension as I admitted recently. But the folks ruined will be like me. Let’s halt the collapse of the workforce and focus on fixing the state.

  6. - Norseman - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:46 pm:

    Good luck AFSCME!

  7. - Not ck - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:47 pm:

    These ridiculous proposals are just an attempt to delay and strict from implementing the Governor’s last, best, and final offer. Instead of wasting $2 million per day of taxpayer dollars, Afscme should assist in implementing the contract as per the agreed negotiation process.

  8. - AC - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:48 pm:

    Well timed with the recent movement on a grand bargain, it’s time for Rauner to add another union to the list of settled contracts. I agree with Mad Max on the mention of privatization.

  9. - Honeybear - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:49 pm:

    If Rauner wants a Grand Bargain he better take this offer.

  10. - City Zen - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:49 pm:

    What will happen first:

    - AFSCME 31 and Rauner come to terms on a contract
    - SEIU and AFSCME merge

  11. - Team Sleep - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:54 pm:

    Honeybear - you and I are in agreement. I think this looks very reasonable and I am hopeful that the two sides can now hammer something out soon. To me voluntarily “accepting” a wage freeze is huge.

  12. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:55 pm:

    City Zen,

    I’ll vote for something else, Rauner becomes Mother Jones.

  13. - Ok - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:58 pm:

    A wage freeze won’t hurt the Union bargaining staff that voted for it. Instead it will hurt employees with less than 3 years of state service.

  14. - Fixer - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:01 pm:

    Can’t wait to see the Rauner administration response to this.

  15. - Honeybear - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:04 pm:

    I’m also very relieved they kept the steps for the newer employees. We won’t lose so many new people. I didn’t realize that it was only 40% of us though. Again there’s the realization that 60% have maxed out their steps. This means it’s even more important not to lose the tier 2 folks like me. Otherwise the workforce will outright die and not be revived.

  16. - Ok - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:06 pm:


    They did not keep steps for the new employees. It only mentions steps for fy 18 and 19. Thats half of our steps.

  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:08 pm:

    He won’t negotiate. Period

  18. - Nick Name - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:10 pm:

    “Instead of wasting $2 million per day of taxpayer dollars…”

    How is the lack of a contract costing Illinois $2 million per day? Show your work.

  19. - Hottot - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:11 pm:

    I’ve read the letter, and providing Rauner backs off on his privatization proposal, I’ll vote for it. Ok, Gov. Rauner, what say you?

  20. - Jon - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:21 pm:

    Finally AFSCME is initiating a PR message instead of reacting to the administration. Of course negotiations aren’t going to start up again, but nice to see the effort. Also, the administration will be able to easily dismiss this as soon as AFSCME makes public statements regarding the proposed pension reforms.

  21. - Top of the State - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:38 pm:

    Something has to give… I just don’t think that Rauner will budge, and neither will Madigan in the end result. I do like Lynch mentioning the 40% that need an incentive to remain state employees.

  22. - allknowingmasterofracoondom - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:43 pm:

    Looks like AFSCME did some polling. LOL.

  23. - Chicagonk - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:46 pm:

    This might have worked a year ago. No way it works now.

  24. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:48 pm:

    Even if Rauner would agree to these financial terms I don’t see him budging on the privatization. That’s the issue that should be settled before any of the other conditions are discussed. My local scheduled an informational meeting and strike vote on…wait for it…Groundhog Day!

  25. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:53 pm:

    Shouldn’t have been so stubborn in negotiations. Rauner has no incentive to to come back to the table now. It’s just a matter of time and the courts before he implements his contract.

  26. - Honeybear - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:57 pm:

    Chicagonk, you mean a year ago when he walked out on us. Yeah, I’m sure it would have worked then. /s

    I love reading your troll angst at compromise with AFSCME. Doesn’t fit your narrative of greedy unreasonable state worker does it?

  27. - AC - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 4:58 pm:

    ==I don’t see him budging on the privatization==

    Not that Rauner would offer the same to AFSCME, but the agreement with conservation police included a no layoff guarantee. That doesn’t directly address outsourcing due to attrition, but it certainly addresses members greatest short term fear related to outsourcing.

  28. - Consideration - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 5:02 pm:

    More than anything, this is for the courts. AFSCME show that they had not put forward their last, best, final by offering major concessions from their last offer. They also show that they would be willing to accept less than what the other unions that have reached a deal.

    No judge can look at this and call it an impasse. Rainer has no choice but to negotiate now. That doesn’t mean he will choose that route, but I’m willing to bet that Madigan and Cullerton will have some say about it, too.

  29. - State employee - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 5:04 pm:

    2 million a day??? Thats 60 million a month divided by 40000 employees is 1500 a month paycut for every employee. Who thinks that is reasonable?????

  30. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 5:04 pm:

    AFSCME & other state unions have had a wage freeze for years. That is nothing new.

  31. - AC - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 5:12 pm:

    ==Rauner has no incentive to to come back to the table now.==

    Except for pension reform, at least according to everything I’ve read from Cullerton.

  32. - AC - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 5:24 pm:

    No to mention fear of the courts, otherwise we wouldn’t be reading all the “$2 million a day” and “AFSCME should stop delaying and just help implement Rauner’s contract” nonsense.

  33. - Molly Maguire - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 5:36 pm:

    a day late…

  34. - Anon - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 5:48 pm:

    I certainly hope this is for show because as a Tier 2 Step 2 I can’t afford a four year wage freeze plus more insurance costs even if they’re “modest.” Step increases are good for when he leaves office but won’t help pay the bills while he’s around.

  35. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 6:03 pm:

    ===Not that Rauner would offer the same to AFSCME, but the agreement with conservation police included a no layoff guarantee. That doesn’t directly address outsourcing due to attrition, but it certainly addresses members greatest short term fear related to outsourcing.===

    It does but the number of conservation police is miniscule in comparison. Rauner so far hasn’t shown a willingness to offer the same conditions to AFSCME that he has to smaller groups. But even if he did I don’t see AFSCME bargaining away state positions if only through attrition. As a previous commenter noted the Governor’s office has already identified IT vendors to contract with. If AFSCME gives at all on privatization it will be the beginning of the end for them.

  36. - The Dude Abides - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 6:09 pm:

    @Consideration, good point. AFSCME just made a counter offer offering more concessions. That doesn’t sound like an impasse does it?

  37. - Ferris Bueller - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 6:25 pm:

    I know none of this is final…but I want to make sure I’m understanding the offer. When they say no pay increases for 4 years (”Employees would forgo any increases in base wages in all four years of the contract.”) is that4 more years on top of the last 2 with no raises or is it 4 total (so just 2 more). Also, what does “employees eligible for continued movement through the pay plan would move to the next step in FY 18 and 19.” mean? The first provision sounds like no raises, but this one sounds like step increases would be back. I’m not sure how to reconcile the two platforms (and would like to know if this is accepted would someone otherwise eligible start receiving steps again)?

  38. - Consideration - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 6:37 pm:

    Bueller: sounds to me like there would be no increases to the base salaries. So, Step 1 remains at the same amount all four years. If you are not stepped out, then you would be eligible for a step increase in years 3 and 4 of the contract.

    The life of the contract is from July 2015 to June 2019. So, the freeze would be the last two years and the next two.

  39. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 6:41 pm:

    Once again I congratulate all the AFSCME members who were so proud to stick it to Quinn by voting for Rauner. You get what you pay for, brothers and sisters.

  40. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 6:42 pm:

    “- Honeybear - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 3:45 pm:”

    I disagree. Go back to believing that all State Workers should stick together.

  41. - m - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 7:04 pm:

    Good move by AFSCME.
    Now if they can just find Marty, Doc, and a Delorean to deliver it when it would have any value whatsoever….

  42. - justacitizen - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 7:18 pm:

    ===Otherwise the workforce will outright die and not be revived.===

    Honeybear, I know most union folks have no sympathy for merit comp people but there are many of us who were non-political and got no raises for 7 or more years. Personally, I got intimidated and bullied by the union president at a large state agency and decided to get out just to cut my losses. I spent about 90% of my time on union issues/grievances at a accounting/revenue agency that needed more oversite on accounting issues-not union grievances Our agency director was chummy with the union boss and ignored pleas for doing “real work”.

    Just a different perspective for you to see why I see Rauner’s reluctance to negotiate and why I think AFSCME shouldn’t be allowed to run IL govt.

  43. - Hambone - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 7:46 pm:

    Wait a minute ??? Doesn’t this mean they are clearly NOT at an impasse if the union just made an offer?

    Do they do back to the LRB?

  44. - Nick Name - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 7:58 pm:

    Smart move by AFSCME to accept Rauner’s $1,000 bonus offer.

  45. - Anon - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 8:45 pm:

    I think it’s saying that if you’re not stepped out you’ll get your step increase. But you won’t get paid anything extra. Then when Rauner is gone and the pay freeze is over you’ll be at a higher step and will theoretically get paid more. Sounds like a lot can go wrong… or worse.

  46. - South Illinoisian - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 8:55 pm:

    Rauner has AFSCME right where he wants them. Rauner won’t return to negotiations unless and until the courts have him over a barrel.

  47. - Huh? - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 9:14 pm:

    1.4% - hey AFSCME what don’t you understand about impasse? I got my piece of paper from my pet labor board that says negotiations are at an impasse and I can force my last and final offer.

  48. - Illinois Refugee - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 9:15 pm:

    I’m not sure what I said in my previous post that would have been offensive to anyone but to recap; I think AFSCME should have made this proposal about 13 months ago. Instead, they appeared to be playing the stall game hoping to delay any cuts for the membership until the next election.

  49. - Tom K. - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 9:48 pm:

    Hambone, see -M-’s 7:04 post, that ship has sailed. If you do find HG Wells, don’t push the handle too far forward lest you become dinner for Morlocks.

  50. - Anon Downstate - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 10:25 pm:

    Interesting coincidence, isn’t it?

    First, the Senate ‘Plan’ gets released…. Today.

    All the Rauner types are complaining that the overall deal is not sufficient for their side…. Today.

    And then ASFCME comes to the edge of table trying to get the real players attention by tossing this revised ‘final’ offer onto the table… Today.

    Yeah, it’s all just a coincidence…. sure thing…

    How about a little different reading…..

    ASFCME is part of the ‘deal’ … except they didn’t realize it until recently. Now they are trying to cobble together what used to be a negotiating position into something that they hope they can sell to Rauner.

    Good luck with that. You are probably a year too late.

    Always remember a Wall Street rule from an old timer: “Bulls make money. Bears make money. HOGS lose everything”.

    ASFCME - you fall into the HOG category.

    Coincidences are rarely Coincidences.

  51. - Anon - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 10:40 pm:

    He has AFSCME bidding against itself. Not an enviable position.

  52. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 10, 17 @ 8:14 am:

    Where was this framework a year ago?

  53. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 10, 17 @ 8:24 am:

    Rainer already saying go pound sand. Shove it down employee throats

  54. - Ex Spsa - Tuesday, Jan 10, 17 @ 8:36 am:

    All you joyful, why not ask how many longterm employees are left? How can an agency function with the turnover the state is experiencing? How does the pension fund stay afloat without longterm employees.

  55. - Arock - Tuesday, Jan 10, 17 @ 8:51 am:

    - The Dude Abides - Monday, Jan 9, 17 @ 6:09 pm:

    “@Consideration, good point. AFSCME just made a counter offer offering more concessions. That doesn’t sound like an impasse does it?”

    Making a move after a judgement doesn’t go your way doesn’t disqualify that you were at an impasse before the judgement. They are wanting to make a counteroffer only after they lost, and it probably shows that they do not think they can prevail in court.

  56. - FED UP w/ Politicians - Tuesday, Jan 10, 17 @ 8:57 am:

    No, I have not bothered to read all of the other comments, I am royally ticked off that AFSCME is caving. Yes, we need to resume talks, but this person they are dealing with has proven time and time again, it’s his way or the highway, and I truly believe the only way to prove to everyone how unreasonable he is, is to go on strike which I’m ready to do, with so many of the members I work with who say they are also. Now to see AFSCME backtracking, that upsets me. There will never be a close in the gap of people doing like work, I work side by side a Teamster who does the same work as me, and is making $30,000 more a year than I am, and now isn’t paying a dime for insurance, because they are going to make AFSCME pay for all those Cadillac policies for the baby unions. :( Totally disgusted with this state.

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