January 15, 2016

Support for state employees from all corners

Legislators and unions representing hundreds of thousands of working families are standing with AFSCME members who work for the state of Illinois. Here are their messages of support in response to Governor Rauner's attempt to terminate negotiations on a new state contract:

Rep. Martwick Statement on Bargaining Impasse Between Governor, Workers

CHICAGO – State Rep. Rob Martwick, D-Chicago, today issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s announcement of an impasse in state employee bargaining negotiations:

“I am extremely disappointed that Gov. Rauner is using procedural maneuvers in an attempt to force a strike by state workers.  This action contradicts his promise to negotiate in good faith. The state workers have negotiated in good faith, have recently offered compromise on wages, health insurance and other important issues.  Most importantly the employees have been and continue to be willing to negotiate.

Today, we see Gov. Rauner’s true intentions. His rhetoric during his campaign for governor was about forcing a strike, and today it is clear that he’s been on this path all along. His agreements with other bargaining units cover a very small portion of state employees. Now, along with his failings as governor to propose a balanced budget and find solutions to our state’s financial problems, he is putting Illinois taxpayers at risk of losing access to vital government services, causing more suffering for decent, hard-working families.”



State Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-7th Statement on Negotiations Impasse Between Administration and AFSCME   

"The Governor's action in declaring impasse in the negotiations with AFSCME invites confrontation and chaos -- it is not the path to a fair agreement. The people of Illinois deserve leadership that is focused on working together and getting things done, not someone who demands his own way at all costs.  The last thing Illinois needs is further conflict sparked by a governor unwilling to do the hard work of compromise.  AFSCME has made clear that the Union does not believe that an impasse in state contract negotiations exists and has also made clear its willingness to continue to bargain to seek to find common ground.  

Up until a week ago there had been no hint that the administration would break off contract negotiations affecting the lives of some 38,000 state employees-child protection workers, veterans nursing aides, correctional officers, human service caseworkers and many more employees who serve our communities every day.  In fact, in arguing in defense of his veto of legislation that would have provided an alternative path to a settlement, the governor assured legislators that he would not walk away from the bargaining table or seek to provoke a strike but would work in good faith to reach a settlement.  Clearly he's now violating that commitment.  

Public service workers in state government deserve wages that reflect the vitally important work they do and health care they can afford.  The positions that the Administration is taking-for example no wage increases for four years--don't meet that test.  The Administration should return to the bargaining table and commit to working toward compromises that are fair to employees and citizens."

Welch represents the 7th District which includes all or parts of Bellwood, Berkeley, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, La Grange Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, Northlake, River Forest, Westchester and Western Springs.

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Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs statement on governor’s decision to declare negotiating impasse with AFSCME

SPRINGFIELD – State Treasurer Michael Frerichs issued the following statement today on reports that the Governor’s office has declared a negotiating impasse with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME):

“It is troubling that the Governor has chosen to walk away from contract negotiations with AFSCME. Negotiations by their very nature are difficult. They require compromise. Abruptly ending negotiations is not productive and will not result in a new collective bargaining agreement that is good for our state’s fiscal health and fair to hard working public service employees. I urge the Governor to return to the bargaining table immediately so he can negotiate with AFSCME.”


Rep. Brandon Phelps: Rauner putting politics above working families in AFSCME dispute

Harrisburg, IL – Following Friday’s announcement that Governor Bruce Rauner and his administration are walking away from contract talks with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, released the following statement calling on the governor to set aside politics and negotiate in good faith.

“The governor’s decision to walk away is yet another example of his lack of leadership and ability to compromise. He has instead targeted the hard-working families of Southern Illinois as the next victim of his dangerous political agenda. While he’s resting cozy in his mansion in Springfield, our friends, neighbors and family are wondering if they’ll be able to put food on the table or pay their bills. These employees are correctional officers, nursing aides for veterans and child protection workers; they wake up before dawn and down rest before dusk. They are integral parts of Southern Illinois, but the governor continues to attack these righteous and hard-working members of our community without any regard for livelihoods.

“This has become a reoccurring pattern for the governor –when he doesn’t get what he wants he walks away. Instead of working with us to craft a responsible budget, Governor Rauner spent his energy trying to slash wages for middle-class workers and take away their bargaining rights. He promised to negotiate with AFSCME in good faith, and it’s evident today that that was nothing more than lip service.

“I’m sick and tired of these big city governors messing with the hard-working folks of Southern Illinois. Whether it’s walking away from contract negotiations or closing correctional facilities, Rauner has joined Quinn and Blagojevich on the list of executives who have turned their back on us. AFSCME’s members deserve better and I hope the governor realizes they have been negotiations in good faith and comes back to the table.”



AFSCME Is Not Alone: SEIU Healthcare Illinois Stands Against Extreme Rauner Demands

CHICAGO–Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to news that Bruce Rauner was engineering an impasse ruling in negotiations with AFSCME Council 31:

“Gov. Rauner’s assault on working families and the middle class continues through his effort to force impasse in contract negotiations with AFSCME, the state workers who provide vital services to residents of Illinois. The 91,000 workers we represent stand in solidarity with AFSCME and all of organized labor in Illinois who find ourselves under attack by this governor.

“Like AFSCME, we have for months been in negotiations for our 53,000 state home healthcare and child care providers who are working without a contract. Likewise, we have faced similar hostility and extremism. In our case, Governor Rauner is attempting to destabilize the care-giving safety net in Illinois with demands to destroy health care coverage for more than 10,000 providers; to remove their vital training; to defy new federal guidelines to pay workers the overtime they are owed; and to freeze wages for the lowest-paid workers in the state, many of whom already live in poverty.

“What Governor Rauner has done to AFSCME, and what he has demanded at the bargaining table from us, will not fix the state’s long-term structural problems and have nothing to do with the budget. We urge Governor Rauner to abandon his political vendetta, to stop using vulnerable people as pawns and to return to negotiations in a spirit of good faith and compromise, characteristics that seem to find no place in his Illinois.”



Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael T. Carrigan Statement on Gov. Rauner's move to declare impasse in negotiations with AFSCME

Governor Rauner has attempted to create conflict in our communities, local governments and in state budget discussions. Now, to the surprise of no one, he is bringing his brand of conflict and division to the state's workplace by recklessly moving to declare an impasse in negotiations with AFSCME workers.

The people of this state elected him to solve problems not create new ones. After one year in office, Rauner has already achieved what will be his legacy of governmental inaction, division and an ideological obsession with turning Illinois into a government of, by and for corporations.

The 1.5 million members of Illinois AFL-CIO working families stand with AFSCME workers, who are on the frontline delivering critical services to the people of Illinois.



Sen. Dave Koehler dissappointed in Governor's actions

Having already shutdown the state budget process, Gov. Bruce Rauner is now walking away from labor talks with the state’s largest employee union.

On Friday, his office said there is an impasse in negotiations, even though labor groups claim they are willing to keep working toward a compromise.

“The Governor’s asking for an impasse to be declared by the labor board is disappointing. If this is a step to force a last and best offer on state workers, it will add even more chaos to state government,” said State Senate Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “This is why I supported SB1229 – to engage both sides into interest arbitration as a way to settle the labor contract with AFSCME. Interest arbitration has been used successfully with police and firefighters in Illinois for many years, and would offer a reasonable way to end this dispute.”

Though the Rauner administration has contended it has reached settlements with all other unions representing state employees, in fact, no settlements have been reached with the six other unions representing more than 25,000 state employees, including state troopers and thousands of child and home health care providers.

“What we don’t need is to force state workers out on strike. The situation with not having a budget is bad enough. Let’s not make things worse,” said Koehler. “Compromise is hard work. I urge all involved to look for ways either through arbitration or mediation, to resolve the differences between the administration and the union.”

According to AFSCME, this past week, the union presented three separate proposals to the State, in which wages and health care were modified to better align with the administration’s framework, and an IDOC proposal was altered to create a joint labor-management committee to improve rehabilitative opportunities for inmates.



Rep. Kelly Cassidy stands with human service workers and all state employees:

This morning, Governor Rauner declared an impasse in negotiations with AFSCME, the union that represents over 38,000 child protection workers, nursing aides, correctional officers, human service workers and other state employees. Prior to this week, there was no indication negotiations would be broken off, and AFSCME has expressed their willingness to continue to bargain and work to find common ground.

Declaring an impasse creates chaos and is not the path to reaching a fair agreement. Negotiations are inherently difficult, but dedication to working through differences and achieving compromise is critically important.

Our state employees that help to keep us safe, respond to emergencies and care for our most vulnerable deserve more than bad faith negotiations and brutal cuts. Their work is vitally important, and putting in whatever effort it takes to reach a fair agreement is equally important.

I strongly urge all parties to recommit to sincere negotiation and work through the process to achieve compromise. While it is unclear what the result of an impasse could be, a strike or lockout would be devastating. Our social service system has already faced crushing difficulties under the budget impasse, causing many organizations to reduce services or shut their doors. This would further reduce critically important services for our most vulnerable citizens.


Sen. Gary Forby supports state employees:

“This latest inaction from the governor is just another step in his plan to make Illinois a right-to-work state. AFSCME has been able to negotiate contracts with governors for the past 30 years from each party in good faith. Just as with the budget, this governor is sidestepping negotiations and using the back door take employee benefits.

“Governor Rauner has said before that he wants chaos. What he fails to comprehend is the situation he’s creating means mothers and father can’t provide for their families, sick people go without health benefits and more people are steered to state-sponsored benefits instead of being able to provide for themselves. Now the governor’s hand-picked Labor Relations Board will decide whether or not the governor negotiated in good faith. I don’t think the people he appointed will decide against him. Looks corrupt if you ask me.”


Holmes: Governor should return to negotiating table

Seeking impasse with AFSCME creates more problems

AURORAState Sen. Linda Holmes issued the following statement in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Unfair Labor Practices Act petition to the Labor Relations Board against the largest state employee union.

The move is the first step in the possible declaration of an impasse in negotiations, a move which could force employees to strike.

“Governor Rauner assured the state employees who protect children, provide care to veterans and the elderly, staff our prisons and maintain our infrastructure that he would not walk away from the bargaining table or provoke a strike,” said Holmes, D-Aurora. “We can see now that he does not intend to honor that promise.”

The governor’s office has reached settlements with unions representing about 5,000 state employees, but negotiations have continued with six unions representing more than 25,000 state employees, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31. Among employees still waiting for a settlement are nurses, state troopers and thousands of home health care and child care providers legally defined as state employees for purposes of collective bargaining.

“This is picking a fight at a time when both sides should be working to reach an agreement,” Holmes said. “AFSCME has shown a willingness to negotiate in good faith, and Governor Rauner should do the same.”

The matter will be considered by the Labor Relations Board.



Statement of Illinois House of Representatives Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang:

“It is extremely disappointing that Governor Rauner has terminated negotiations with AFSCME. Apparently he wants to provoke a confrontation and disruption of state operations. That would mean the loss of vital services relied upon by millions of Illinois residents every day, as well as further instability in the state’s business climate.

“That is why I and other lawmakers sought to enact a fair process for contract resolution through neutral arbitration last fall. Maintaining public services is critical, and such a process needs to become law.”



Rep. Mitchell Statement on Impasse Between Rauner & Workers

CHICAGO – In response to the Governor Rauner’s announcement of an impasse in negotiations with state employees, state Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, issued the following statement:

“Today’s action by the governor is yet another example of him holding working families hostage to his far right political agenda. By walking away from the bargaining table, he continues to show an unwillingness to compromise.

“Public service workers – the people who help keep us safe, provide critical services for our most vulnerable, and respond to emergencies – deserve wages and working conditions that reflect the importance of the work they provide our state. They are often our neighbors, our friends or our family members. Today, Governor Rauner turned his back not just on our public service workers, but our entire state.

“I call on the governor to rejoin the bargaining table, negotiate in good faith, and find a solution that is fair to both our state employees and the citizens of Illinois.” 


Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle made the following statement in support of state employees:

“It is my view that leaders of government and its employees should work together for the public good. In our state, this often means reaching a mutually agreeable resolution in contract negotiations with collective bargaining units of government employees. Declaring an impasse as a way to pressure public service workers is, in my view, short-sighted and does nothing to engender trust between parties. In Cook County, we negotiated and have reached agreements with almost 100 separate collective bargaining units. I would urge the Governor to rethink his position, return to the negotiating table and respect the collective bargaining process.”


IEA President on Gov. Rauner’s declaration of impasse in AFSCME talks

Statement from Cinda Klickna, President of the Illinois Education Association

“The 130,000 members of the Illinois Education Association support the members of AFSCME as they try to negotiate a fair contract with a governor who seeks confrontation instead of compromise.

Rather than negotiate a fair contract, Governor Rauner seems focused on picking fights with the hard-working men and women who provide services to the people of Illinois.

It is shameful that, as he enters his second year as the state’s top constitutional officer, Gov. Rauner remains either unwilling or unable to govern. The people who elected him deserve much better service than they have received from Gov. Rauner.

We urge Gov. Rauner to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract with the public service workers who keep us safe, protect kids, respond to emergencies and care for Illinois’ most vulnerable.  It is what he was elected to do.”


100,000 IFT workers stand with AFSCME

WESTMONT, IL – In response to Governor Rauner’s move to declare impasse in negotiations with workers represented by AFSCME, Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery issued the following statement:

“Governor Rauner’s actions today prove once again that his priority is forced conflict, not progress. The 100,000 workers of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, some of whom are also state employees, are proud to stand with AFSCME as we face a deceptive and irresponsible Governor willing to use middle-class families, the most vulnerable, and our students as a wager in his fanatical game. Make no mistake: this isn’t in service of financial savings for the state. This is an ideological obsession unfit for a state leader forcing chaos to enact a reckless and unpopular agenda.  Our members go to work each day trying to help others, trying to resolve conflict, trying to educate our children. Governor Rauner could learn a thing or two from them."

In addition to teachers, school staff, and higher education faculty at community colleges and universities throughout Illinois, the IFT includes thousands of public employees under dozens of agencies and statewide officeholders.


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