* From JT to state employees…
Today marks the first day of AFSCME leadership’s campaign for strike authorization. The decision to vote in favor of a strike is a very serious choice and should not be done with incomplete (or worse, inaccurate) information. At CMS Labor Relations, we always strive to provide complete information to bargaining unit employees on all topics. You can visit team.illinois.gov to find answers to your many questions and to submit new ones. Our team stands ready to help in these challenging times.
We also prepared the attached one-page document that briefly summarizes why, in our view, a strike is not warranted. Although others may disagree, we believe a strike against the taxpayers is reckless.
We firmly believe that our last, best, and final proposal is one that is both reasonable and necessary given the State’s current fiscal condition. Twenty other unions have accepted substantially similar proposals. A lengthy strike will result in significant disruptions to striking workers’ pay, health insurance, and pension benefits, and risk disrupting the services to some of the taxpayers we have pledged to serve.
Of course, the decision to strike is yours and yours alone. We will respect whatever decision you make and hope the Union does likewise. We remain available to answer questions or provide information to ensure you are fully informed.
CMS Office of Labor Relations
* From the attachment…
The State’s Proposal Is Reasonable and Necessary
· Employees continue to be among the best-paid in the nation: average total annual compensation, with benefits, is over $100,000
· Health insurance options allow employees to select what is best for them and their families
· Depending on the choice of health insurance plan, monthly premiums can be as low as zero (AFSCME falsely claims everyone’s premiums will double)
· Temporary pay freeze (not permanent, as AFSCME claims when it falsely says the State is permanently eliminating step increases)
· A merit incentive program that extends to all employees a plan similar to one successfully implemented for AFSCME-represented Lottery Sales Reps four years ago
· Additional safeguards against privatization, along the lines of what AFSCME has negotiated in its CBAs with employees in other States
· Retention of bumping rights during layoff
· Modest changes to overtime provisions without changing the work week you’ve always had
Potential Costs of a Strike Are Significant
· No pay during the strike
· No health insurance subsidy during the strike
· No credit towards pension benefits during the strike
· Average monthly cost to a striking employee is over $8,000
· No one knows how long a strike may be; whether employees strike or not, the State simply cannot afford AFSCME leadership’s demands of billions of dollars in additional pay and benefits during the four-year contract at issue
· Replacement workers can be hired to maintain services during a strike, and in some cases, those replacement workers may be permanent.
· In contrast, employees who cross the picket line continue to receive their pay and benefits and retain their same job protections—contrary to AFSCME’s claim, they do not become “at will”