SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration and representatives of the state’s largest employee union are reporting they have reached an agreement to not lock out or strike until at least September 30th, giving state workers and those who benefit from their services a little breathing room if an agreement isn’t reached by July 31.
They agreed that if negotiations continue beyond the July 31 date, neither side will resort to a strike, work stoppage, work slowdown, or lockout between August 1 and September 30, or until an impasse is reached, whichever comes later.
While Rauner did reach agreement with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees on some items, they still disagree on the state’s obligation to continue step raises and semi-automatic promotion increases.
According to a statement from AFSCME 31, the parties remain very far apart on many basic issues as a result of the Rauner Administration’s “continued 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.
They further note that reports have revealed the Rauner Administration is soliciting strike breakers, including retired state employees and potentially the Illinois National Guard.
AFSCME says those actions suggest the Rauner Administration is planning a work stoppage, and they point to how the Governor’s public comments in recent days have changed in tone, forgoing the confrontational tenor of earlier remarks.
The statement says the union hopes the Administration’s actions will comport with that new tone—such as making real progress at the bargaining table, halting the recruitment of strike breakers, or enacting Senate Bill 1229 to provide a final recourse of arbitration to settle differences between the parties without disrupting public services.
Shortly after the release of the AFSCME statement, Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 1229.