January 27, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Springfield, IL – Trying to force Gov. Bruce Rauner back to the bargaining table, Illinois’s largest union of state workers will vote next month on whether to authorize a strike.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 said it had made the decision after it proposed what it called “an unprecedented good-faith effort… to forge a compromise,” and Rauner “arrogantly dismissed” it. The union had offered Jan. 10 to freeze base pay for four years and accept small increases in health-care costs if the governor would withdraw his demands to eliminate step increases and double workers’ health-insurance premiums. Rauner responded within hours, saying, “AFSCME needs to get serious and stop misleading employees and the public in its quest for unaffordable benefit increases.” “The wage freeze combined with such a steep health-care hike would mean a $10,000 pay cut for the average state employee,” Council 31 said in a statement Jan. 23. The billionaire governor cut off contract talks more than a year ago, and in November, the Illinois Labor Board approved his request to declare an impasse, which would allow him to impose the terms of his last contract offer. Council 31 is challenging that ruling in the courts, and won a temporary stay in December. The strike-authorization vote will take place in different locals between Jan. 30 and Feb. 19. Read more