Re-Vote on Contract Gets Underway — In March, AFSCME members voted by an overwhelming 96% margin to ratify the new union contract. Now, since one of the conditions on which the ratification vote was premised has not been met, the Union has initiated another statewide vote to determine whether to proceed with implementing the contract.
Voting is currently underway at worksites across the state. Members will have the opportunity to decide whether to affirm the ratification vote that was previously taken and move forward with signing the contract or to refuse to sign the contract.
Your AFSCME Bargaining Committee is recommending a YES vote on the contract. Even though Attorney General Lisa Madigan has declined to withdraw the state’s appeal in the legal dispute over back pay owed, if the contract is approved employees will receive a pay increase on July 1, 2013 that will place them at the appropriate salary level. Employees in the six agencies that did not receive the pay increase due under the previous contract will have their pay rates increase by7.25% to reflect the previous rate increases which they had been denied; employees in other agencies will receive a 2% pay increase.
If the contract is not approved, employees will not have the right to receive these pay raises on July 1. Moreover, there will be no union contract in effect to guarantee workplace rights and protections.
Your vote is very important. Your local union will provide you with information on voting sites and times. As in the past, you will be afforded time to vote. Make sure your voice is heard.
Grassroots Lobbying for Back Pay Supplemental Appropriation — The raise that will go into effect on July 1 if the new contract is approved will ensure that all employees receive their appropriate salary from that day forward. But what about the back wages owed to employees in DOC, DJJ, DHS, DNR, DPH and the HRC?
That condition of the contract settlement is being fulfilled: It provided that the Quinn Administration would cooperate with AFSCME to lobby for passage of a supplemental appropriation to pay the back wages owed.
That supplemental appropriation—with funding for all back wages owed to employees—has now been introduced in the General Assembly in House Amendment 2 to HB 212. (NOTE: HB 212 is a shell bill; the appropriation of $140 million is contained in the amendment.) The Council 31 lobbying team in Springfield has already begun outreach to build support for House Amendment 2 to HB 212. But it is critical that legislators also hear from members in their districts.
Call your State Representative right away with this message:
State employees have waited nearly two year for wages owed under the previous union contract. I urge you to support House Amendment 2 to HB 212. We’re on the frontlines every day serving the citizens of Illinois and we deserve to be treated fairly.
You can call your legislators toll-free on the AFSCME hotline at (888) 912-5959 or use our click-to-call tool.
Escrow Fund Pays Some Back Wages Now — Even before the supplemental appropriation contained in House Amendment 2 to HB 212 is enacted, some employees will be paid a portion of the back wages they are owed out of some $42 million that was being held in escrow by the Circuit Court.
These are monies that in the course of the pay lawsuit AFSCME attorneys had demonstrated to the Court were appropriated in the FY12 budget and could be used toward payment of the back wages owed. Although the lawsuit has not been resolved, the Union requested that the funds be released from the escrow account and paid out—the court approved that course of action.
Last week DCMS began notifying employees (and affected retirees) that the funds would be dispersed to pay back wages (including step increases) owed July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012. It’s important to keep in mind that many of these dollars are restricted in how they can be distributed, e.g. federal grants made only for specific purposes or appropriations for specific agencies or facilities. This means that the distribution to employees will not be uniform, even within a particular agency—and many employees will not receive any back pay from these escrowed funds.
That’s why it’s critical to keep the pressure on to enact House Amendment 2 to HB 212 which will provide funding for all of the back wages owed to everyone.
House Passes Bad Pension Bill — For more than two years now the We Are One Illinois union coalition (AFSCME, AFL-CIO, IEA, IFT, FOP, PBPA, LIUNA, SEIU, INA, AFFI) has managed to beat back repeated efforts by the state’s political and corporate elite to slash the retirement benefits of active and retired public employees, thanks to the tens of thousands of union members who called, e-mailed, texted, rallied and more to keep the pressure on legislators.
However, in recent months the demand for pension-cutting has greatly intensified, especially in the House of Representatives where Speaker Michael Madigan has emerged as the leader of the effort. On Thursday these forces succeeded in pushing through SB 1 in the House, a draconian bill that will do significant harm to the retirement security of both active employees and current retirees. Click here to see how your representative voted.
Over the past few weeks, We Are One Illinois leaders have been meeting with Senate President John Cullerton in an effort to forge a compromise measure in the Senate that would be much fairer to active and retired public employees than SB 1. Since we do not know whether it will be possible to reach agreement on an alternative bill, the We Are One coalition is urging all union members to call their state senators and urge a “NO” vote on SB 1. You can call toll-free on the We Are One Illinois hotline at (888) 412-6570 or use the coalition’s click-to-call tool.
Benefit Choice Period — Given that the new contract, including changes to health benefits, is not in effect, AFSCME urged the Department of Central Management Services to delay the annual Benefit Choice period that normally begins on May 1. However, the Administration insisted that the process had to get underway now in order to be able to implement the changes on schedule if the contract is approved.
DCMS has notified AFSCME members that the Benefit Choice materials are being provided to them now for “educational purposes” and that employees are not required to make their choice at this time. They also agreed to extend the deadline by which choices must be made depending on the timing and final outcome of the re-vote on the contract. AFSCME members are encouraged to await the outcome of the contract re-vote before making their health care choices.
Via AFSCME Council 31