Make the Call for Pay Fairness – Legislators will be in Springfield for the Fall Veto Session beginning on October 22. We’ve got to make sure they get the message loud and clear back in their districts: State employees have waited long enough for the back pay that is owed.

Legislators got the pay that Governor Quinn tried to withhold from them. Now it’s time for them to make sure that all state employees get the back pay owed to them.

State Senator Andy Manar is sponsoring SB 2603, a supplemental appropriation for $120 million that will allow for the payment of all back wages owed. Now your legislators need to hear from you.

Tuesday, October 15
Wednesday, October 16

This coming Tuesday and Wednesday, join in the AFSCME Call-In days to send a strong message to members of the General Assembly. Call your state senator and state representative with this message:

State employees have been waiting over two years for the wages owed under our union contract. We’re out on the front lines every day doing our job. We deserve fair treatment. A circuit court judge has already ruled that the money must be paid. Now Governor Quinn has agreed. It is up to the state legislature to appropriate the funds that are needed. I urge you to strongly support SB 2603 in the upcoming veto session so that state employees can be paid the wages they’re owed.

It’s very important to make these calls. Try to speak directly to the legislator. If you get voice mail, state your name, that you live in the district, that you vote, and then leave the message above.

You can call toll free on the AFSCME hotline at 888-912-5959 or go to the General Assembly’s website to look up the phone number of your legislator.

If the legislator’s switchboard is shut down, take some of your coworkers, friends or family members and go by his or her district office to leave a copy of your message (printed out extra-large!)

Be on Standby to Defend Your Pension – The special legislative conference committee set up to develop a so-called “compromise” on pensions has been stalled for months now. It’s anybody’s guess whether the committee will produce a bill in time to be voted on in the upcoming veto session.

But if the committee does produce a bill, it’s very likely to be one that makes far too steep cuts to pension benefits. The draft that has been circulated of the conference committee’s proposed “compromise” is actually just another variant on the pension-slashing SB 1 and the We Are One Illinois union coalition has come out strongly against it. You can click here for the details on the draft conference committee plan – and what’s wrong with it.

AFSCME and our We Are One Illinois partners continue to emphasize that there already is a “compromise” bill – SB 2404, which makes only modest and fair changes to pension benefits, yet would still make great strides in addressing the pension underfunding crisis over the coming years.

Unfortunately, Senate President John Cullerton, who championed SB 2404, now says that he would support the draft plan circulated by the conference committee – and may introduce it as a bill in the Veto Session even if the conference committee does not formally back it.

All AFSCME members should be on stand-by and ready to spring into action if a pension-slashing bill starts to move in the Veto Session.

Murray Center Families Score a Win – A federal judge has rejected the Quinn administration’s attempt to have a lawsuit filed by Murray Center families thrown out of court. Instead, U.S. District Judge Marvin Aspen allowed the case, which is intended to stop the scheduled closure of Murray Center, to move forward, with a trial date set for January 6. The court-ordered stay on moving out residents will remain in place until the trial is concluded.

The administration continues to look for every possible way to force out Murray residents. Since the stay did not extend to residents who are wards of the state, those individuals are being moved out to private group homes. However, a state court did step in to appoint a special guardian for those individuals. Now DHS is trying to have that guardian dismissed after he blew the whistle on inappropriate placements.

The guardian, Stewart Freeman, who also serves as the Clinton County Public Defender, has filed an affidavit with the court saying that the homes individuals were moved to are unsafe and woefully understaffed.

At the same time, AFSCME continues to pursue a grievance filed over DHS’s attempt to move individuals out of Murray Center using only contract employees, completely shutting out the experienced and skilled bargaining unit employees who are committed to protecting the Murray residents. Attempts to reach a resolution of the grievance through mediation have failed and the case is now before an independent arbitrator.

Federal Shutdown Hits State Employees – The irresponsible actions of Congressional Republicans who are refusing to vote on a federal budget are resulting in the massive shutdown of countless services and programs on which millions of Americans depend. They are also having a very direct impact on hundreds of AFSCME members in state government whose positions are federally funded. Some employees in DHS, Military Affairs, DOL, and Employment Security have already been laid off—and more layoffs could come soon. Council 31 is seeking to reach an agreement with the state to provide temporary job options for these union members. AFSCME is also working at the national level to ensure that if Congress enacts legislation to provide retroactive pay for furloughed federal employees, state and local government employees paid with federal funds will be covered as well.

State Appeals Maximus Decision – The Quinn administration has filed an appeal in circuit court seeking to void the ruling of an independent arbitrator that the state must cancel its $72 million contract with Maximus.

Last year, due to a shortage of staff in DHS, Illinois fell behind in Medicaid eligibility redeterminations. Rather than hire sufficient staff, the state contracted the work out to Maximus. Council 31 filed a grievance asserting violation of the subcontracting provisions of the contract and the arbitrator ruled in the union’s favor. Under the arbitrator’s auspices, AFSCME and DHS had been meeting to attempt to work out an orderly transition when the administration announced its decision to appeal. No stay of the arbitrator’s ruling has yet been issued.

State Begins to Strip Some of Bargaining Rights – Earlier this year, over AFSCME’s strong objections, Governor Quinn signed into law SB 1556 – now Public Act 97-1172 – which allows him to take away bargaining rights from more than 3,500 individuals, including 1,900 who are currently represented by a union.

The Quinn administration has now begun the process of notifying those individuals whose positions will be designated for exclusion from the collective bargaining rights provided by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act.

Appeals can be filed to the Illinois Labor Relations Board within 10 days of notification. However, the criteria for exclusion are very broad, making it difficult to prevail. Any employee who wishes to request that the union file a challenge to his/her exclusion from the bargaining unit should fill out and return the Council 31 information sheet within four days of receiving his/her notice. Alternatively, employees can file their own objections directly to the Labor Board. The notice they receive from CMS will include information on how to file such an objection.

Employees whose bargaining rights are taken away can choose to remain as union members and AFSCME will continue to represent them in personnel matters to the fullest extent that the law allows.