The Rauner Administration continues to demand dozens of changes to the current contract language—changes that would wipe out vitally important workplace rights, jeopardize employee health and safety, compromise the quality of services we provide to the public, undermine the union’s ability to advocate for employees, reduce promotional opportunities, and drive down take-home pay. And the AFSCME Bargaining Committee continues to resist these extreme and harmful demands.
With the June 30 contract expiration date fast approaching, some weeks ago AFSCME proposed to extend the current union contract for as long as necessary to reach a new contract. The Administration would not agree, instead proposing a “tolling agreement” which preserves all rights under the AFSCME contract for another month while negotiations continue and bars any strike, work stoppage or lockout during that time. On June 25, AFSCME and the Rauner Administration signed that agreement.
This “tolling agreement” means that all current contractual rights of union members remain in place until July 31—with one exception: Over AFSCME’s objections, the Administration is freezing all step increases and semi-automatic promotions as of July 1. AFSCME intends to immediately file grievances seeking to undo this freeze.
Unfortunately, we can’t take this agreement to mean that the Rauner Administration has shifted from its core goal of eliminating unions in our state, and particularly in state government. There is every reason to believe that the governor remains determined to try to impose his radical and harmful demands—possibly by forcing a strike or lockout–once that agreement ends.
That’s why AFSCME is continuing to build support for enactment of SB 1229, legislation that would allow unions in state government to invoke arbitration procedures if a contract settlement can’t be reached at the bargaining table—and would prevent the disruption of vital state services. Under the procedures set forth in the bill, an independent arbitrator would have the authority to resolve all outstanding issues.
SB 1229 passed both houses of the legislature and is now on the governor’s desk. But he has already sent strong signals he intends to veto this legislation, calling it a “horrible” bill that would take away his power. It’s essential to contact legislators now to gain the votes needed to override that veto. Call your state representative and state senator TODAY with this message:
“I support SB 1229 to help ensure fairness for state employees. If the governor vetoes this legislation, please vote to override his veto.”
You can call your legislators toll-free on the AFSCME Hotline at 1-888-912-5959
We also have to begin now to prepare for the conflict that will come if SB 1229 does not become law. AFSCME members want to settle our contract without any disruption to the vital services that we provide to the citizens of this state. But we cannot and will not accept a contract that guts our rights and jeopardizes our economic security. If the governor tries to force that kind of contract on us, we must be ready to stand up and resist.