* Sean Crawford at NPR Illinois…
Members of AFSCME Council 31 have a new labor deal with the State of Illinois, according to the union.
Ratification votes were taken at various locations over the past week and a half. It’s the first state contract for the 40,000 state government employees since the last one expired in 2015. Efforts to negotiate a new pact with former Gov. Bruce Rauner were unsuccessful.
New Gov. J.B. Prtizker had made resolution of the dispute a priority since his election last year. The agreement includes 11.5% raises over the next 4 years. Other provisions dealing with overtime and subcontracting are included. Members will pay more for health coverage, but far less than what the Rauner Administration was seeking.
Compounded, the raises amount to 11.98 percent over the life of the contract. State workers have received no general raises since July 2014.
Employee health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase. Although specific totals will vary depending on the employee’s health plan and salary, premiums will go up each January by a composite $13 per month for individuals and $18 per month for families. It is the first increase in premiums or out of pocket health costs in four years.
AFSCME said the contract also strengthens restrictions on mandatory overtime and maintains current provisions about subcontracting. Rauner wanted to increase the use of outsourcing of state work.
The deal also expands maternity and paternity leave and creates a new labor-management body to reduce the threat of violence in the workplace and improve worker safety.
The new agreement takes effect immediately and runs through June 30, 2023. The previous contract had been slated to expire at the end of June 2015.
In recognition of their continued diligence during Rauner’s tenure—when he froze their pay and illegally prevented employees from progressing through the pay plan for four years—state workers will initially receive a stipend of $625 for each of the past four years worked. General pay increases will follow in January 2020 (1.5%), July 2020 (2.1%), January 2021 and January 2022 (both 3.95%). State employees have received no general increase since July 2014.
Employee premiums and out-of-pocket costs in the state group health insurance plan will increase. Although specific employee contributions vary by type of health plan and salary levels, premiums will go up each January by a composite $13 per month for individuals and $18 per month for families. This maintains Illinois’s standing in the middle ranks of state employee health plans nationally.
Among other provisions, the new contract strengthens employee protections against excessive forced overtime, expands maternity and paternity leave, creates a new labor-management body to reduce the threat of violence in the workplace and improve worker safety, preserves accountability standards for privatization proposals and creates new protections to safeguard employees’ private information.
The agreement was ratified by an overwhelming majority of union members voting. “The big margin reflects how ready state workers are for the return of sanity and responsible governance in the wake of Bruce Rauner’s relentless attacks,” Lynch said. “Public service workers in state government clearly believe this contract is fair for all.”