In the face of the Quinn Administration’s hard line at the bargaining table, state employees are stepping up their efforts to gain a fair contract that keeps health care affordable.
In the most recent round of bargaining that wrapped up Feb. 8, the Quinn administration refused to back down from its demand that state workers accept deep economic concessions, including a three-year wage freeze and major increases in health care costs.
Gov. Quinn continues to insist that state workers are “overpaid” and must accept a lower standard of living.
While another round of negotiations is set for February 25, Management’s continued insistence that employees must dig deeply into their own pockets to pay for the state’s fiscal woes makes it increasingly difficult to believe that the contract can be settled at the bargaining table.
State employees are already working to build support in the fight for a fair contract from local businesses, labor organizations, elected officials and the general public they serve every day.
If there is no progress made in the next round of negotiations, the AFSCME Bargaining Committee will determine whether to ask members to authorize a strike.
AFSCME members view a strike is a last resort. They are deeply concerned about the citizens who depend on the vital services that they provide. But union members also know that they will not be able to continue to provide quality services to the public if they cannot support their own families. They are not willing to accept a contract that pushes them out of the middle class.
The Union’s contract proposals have been fair and modest—in recognition of the state’s severe financial constraints. But throughout these negotiations, the Quinn Administration has demonstrated a determination to drive down employees’ standard of living and weaken workers’ rights on the job. AFSCME members are even more determined to stand their ground.