*From a News-Gazette editorial…
Last week, AFSCME Executive Director Roberta Lynch announced that union members voted by an overwhelming margin to authorize their negotiators to call a strike if management does not return to the bargaining table.
“We’re going to continue to think that at some point this governor will realize that conflict, confrontation is not the way to move the state forward. We’re going to keep working every way we can to convince him to return to the bargaining table and make a good-faith effort to resolve the situation,” Lynch said.
But judging from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s response to Lynch’s invitation to resume negotiations, that’s not going to happen.
“The labor board unanimously said we’re at impasse. We’ve been at impasse. Negotiations are done. Those days are gone,” he said.
The editorial goes on to question how many workers would actually walk out and how many would stay out.
* Christopher Mooney, the director of the Institute of Government and Policy at the University of Illinois, talked about that topic yesterday, saying that the governor could win the messaging battle with the voters and then added this…
This is not the United Mine Workers of America, this is not the United Auto Workers of America. I’ve seen mine workers strike. Mine workers strike, they are striking to the death. I mean they beat scabs bloody. And they’ll be out on strike for two years to get what they want because they are tightly bound, they work in teams, they’re underground in a dangerous environment and they don’t have a lot of options. So when it comes time to fight the coal bosses their backs are against the wall.
It’s not really the same situation for most AFSCME workers. They work in offices, they work out in the field in various places, too, but there’s not that tight cohesion that there is in industrial unions. And I wonder how long such a strike would last, especially as has been reported there’s not a significant strike fund to support these people. […]
On the other hand, I don’t know what else they can do but go on strike. The governor basically said this is the way it is and we’re going to just impose our contract. If they don’t strike, because that’s really their only other option, they basically just roll over and say we just don’t exist any more, we’re so marginalized that we don’t matter. […]
When the coal miners go on strike, they don’t necessarily have to worry about public image. There’s some of that that goes on, but they’re really fighting the bosses and it’s a power play that way. This is going to be fought in the public arena for both sides because it’s taxpayers that are the bosses and they have to be convinced on one side or the other… When you’ve got a single messenger and you can tick off some talking points, whether completely accurate or not, that people can relate to, the governor’s office might have the advantage.
Those talking points, of course, are the demands for a 40-hour work week, higher health insurance costs, etc.
Also, there’s lately been a tiny bit of deep background push-back on earlier reporting that AFSCME has no strike fund.