Rauner stands firm on contract demands; AFSCME without strike fund

SPRINGFIELD — After more than six months at the bargaining table, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration and unions representing state employees continue to work toward a common agreement on a new contract.

While there has been agreement reached on a few issues, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union says the Rauner administration still has a large number of proposals on the table, including:

  • No wage increases or step increases for the entire term of the contract
  • Eliminate longevity pay (including for all those currently receiving it)
  • Eliminate maximum security pay and reduce call-back pay, stand-by pay and roll call pay
  • Restructure the group health plan to drastically shift costs to employees-with employees paying as much as 500% more for out-of-pocket costs.
  • Increase dental premiums by more than 100%.
  • Eliminate all restrictions on subcontracting or personal service contracts.
  • Require all employees hired before July 1, 2011 to “voluntarily” agree to reduce their pension benefits to the Tier 2 level.
  • Eliminate the Upward Mobility Program in its entirety, as well as a other forms of tuition reimbursement, continuing education, and licensure reimbursement.
  • Eliminate any restrictions on forced overtime.

When the union contract expired on June 30, AFSCME proposed that the contract terms be ex¬tended until negotiations on a new contract are completed.

The Administration refused, agreeing only to sign a so-called “tolling agreement” which keeps the contract’s terms and conditions in place until July 31st. As that date approaches, AFSCME says it has again proposed that the expired contract be extended, but that management has not yet responded.

While union supported legislation that would provide an alternative to a strike or lockout waits for the Governor’s unlikely approval, the union says it has received information the administration is recruit¬ing retirees to come back to work on contract; hiring temporary workers to ’shadow’ state employ¬ees and learn their jobs; and trying to get the Illinois National Guard to perform state employees’ work.

AFSCME says unions have to be prepared as well; however, AFSCME does not have a fund that pays out a stipend when employees are locked out or on strike.

The Union does have a Solidarity Fund that can help in grave emergencies and will coordinate assistance from other unions that want to support locked out or striking workers and will also work with community organizations that provide emergency assistance.