August 3, 2015
By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration and Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have agreed to extend state workers’ contract for another two months while talks continue.
The agreement, signed July 29, says that "neither side will resort to strike, work stoppage, work slowdown, or lockout” until Sept. 30. But the governor vetoed a bill that would prohibit a strike or lockout and send the talks to an independent arbitrator, saying an arbitrator could grant raises that would create "billions of dollars of new costs.” Council 31, which represents about 38,000 state workers, said it and Rauner are still “very far apart on many basic issues,” because of his “extreme demands that would undermine public services, strip the rights of public service workers, reduce access to health care and make it impossible to keep pace with the rising cost of living." It said the administration wants to freeze wages and sextuple workers’ out-of-pocket payments for health care. The union also cited news reports that the administration is looking for possible strikebreakers, including asking retired employees if they wanted to come back on the job temporarily. Read more