November 28, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Springfield, IL – Thousands of Illinois government workers demonstrated around the state Nov. 17, demanding that Gov. Bruce Rauner resume contract talks with them instead of forcing a strike.
The protests came two days after the Illinois Labor Relations Board approved the governor’s request that it declare an impasse in negotiations between the state and AFSCME Council 31, which represents 38,000 state workers. That could enable Rauner to impose contract terms including a four-year wage freeze and doubling health-care costs, with the workers’ only alternative to strike. “Our union strongly disagrees with this ruling,” Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch said. “We have consistently made clear that we are prepared to continue negotiating. The governor is trying to force state workers to accept his unfair terms or go out on strike.” Rauner, who walked out on the talks in early January, cannot impose his terms until the board issues a final written ruling. When that happens, Council 31 says they will appeal it in state court. Read more