Charter, Contracts, and Supplementals
Negotiation message from May 17, 2019
- Bruce Rauner declared impasse and walked out on contract negotiations with AFSCME in January, 2016. In 2018 the Fourth District Appellate Court ruled that no impasse had existed and that bargaining should resume-but Rauner wouldn't return.
- When JB Pritzker became governor, he made clear that he wanted to reach a fair contract settlement. The parties went back to the bargaining table on March 25 and have been meeting regularly since then.
- The renewed negotiations are taking up all proposals that were still on the table at the time that bargaining came to a halt in 2016.
- AFSCME's first goal in these negotiations has been to press for withdrawal of the many harmful proposals that Bruce Rauner had on the bargaining table-including stripping away privatization safeguards, reducing overtime pay, imposing "reasonable suspicion" drug and alcohol testing, weakening bumping and recall rights, undermining seniority rights, and establishing a so-called "merit" pay system based on cash bonuses for a limited number of "chosen" employees.
- We're making good progress on that front. The Pritzker Administration has agreed to withdraw virtually all of Rauner's anti-union demands on issues like subcontracting and seniority. In addition, progress is being made in addressing a number of the Union's key concerns, such as excessive overtime mandation.
- Early in the negotiating process, Management informed the Union that due to a federal court order and supervision by a federal monitor, CMS is in the process of making significant changes to the way that vacancies are filled, including shifting from a "letter" to a "numerical" grading system. After hearing a detailed presentation of the planned changes, the AFSCME Bargaining Committee has developed a number of proposals intended to safeguard employee rights. Most importantly, the committee is seeking to ensure that promotional/seniority rights will not be compromised in any way by this new system.
- As is the normal process, the negotiations first focused on non-economic issues. Now that many of these "language" issues have been resolved, the parties are beginning discussion of economic issues-which pose big challenges in these tough times.
- The last union contract expired on June 30, 2015. Pursuant to a "tolling agreement" with the previous administration, the terms of that contract have remained in effect pending negotiation of a new contract. The Pritzker Administration is proposing that the term of the new contract would run until June 30, 2023.
- Gov. Pritzker's negotiating team recognizes that it is extremely unfair that state employees have gone so long without a pay increase, but argues that the state's current budget shortfall makes it very difficult to increase spending on employee wages and benefits in the near term--especially without any certitude that the Fair Tax plan proposed by the governor will be enacted.
- The Union recognizes the state's fiscal constraints and AFSCME members are working hard to help ensure passage of the Fair Tax. However, the AFSCME Bargaining Committee stressed that the fiscal crisis does not justify failing to fairly compensate employees who are on the front lines every day providing vital services to the citizens of Illinois. State employees have struggled over the past four years just to keep up with the cost of living and deserve pay raises.
- The Administration negotiators also point out that there has been no increase in employee health care costs over the past five years even though health care inflation-and the state's health care costs-have continued to rise. They want to restructure a number of aspects of the state's group health plan-including shifting a much greater share of the costs to employees-based on the argument that the proportion of health care costs paid by employees is lower than in other states-and significantly lower than it was four years ago.
- The Administration's initial proposal is definitely an improvement over the drastic increases in employee premiums that Bruce Rauner had on the bargaining table-as much 120%--but still could result in cost increases of as much as 80% for some employees. The Union Committee made clear that such increases are still much too high for employees to afford. The AFSCME Bargaining Committee has taken a firm stand against any proposal for drastic increases in employee health care costs.
- State employees are now back in step/longevity progression because Governor Pritzker has complied with the legal order that AFSCME won. And we're still pressing for the supplemental appropriation needed to page back wages owed for the step increases withheld.
- Now employees want-and need-a new union contract that will assure job rights, keep health care affordable and restore the ability to keep up with the cost-of-living. The AFSCME Bargaining Committee is committed to securing a fair contract settlement as quickly as possible so that every union member will have the security and safeguards that a union contract provides.
"We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."