July 20, 2016

AFSCME members across the country stand with Illinois

Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch speaks on the convention floor
in support of resolution in solidarity with Illinois AFSCME members.

More than 3000 AFSCME delegates to the 42nd International Convention meeting this week in Las Vegas overwhelmingly approved a resolution to “stand in solidarity with AFSCME Council 31 members in state government who are directly confronting one of the most fiercely anti-union governors in the country today.” 

AFSCME members who work for the State of Illinois have made it very clear that they want to continue negotiating for a fair contract with the Rauner Administration. But Gov. Rauner is refusing to bargain with them, even vetoing legislation that would have allowed an independent arbitrator to help settle the differences between the parties.

Instead of seeking compromise, Rauner is pushing the Illinois Labor Relations Board to declare impasse so that he can impose his extreme terms on state employees, such as freezing wages for four years, doubling workers’ cost for health care and eliminating safeguards against irresponsible privatization of public services.

AFSCME members have done everything possible to avert a strike because they know how much citizens all across the state depend on the services they provide. But state employees also know that what’s at stake in this battle is bigger than their own livelihoods. They’re fighting for workers’ rights and strong public services for the families of Illinois. 

Speaking in support of the resolution, Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch stressed that the fight in Illinois is vitally important to union members all across the country—as Bruce Rauner’s efforts to destroy unions in Illinois will become a model for other right-wing governors if he succeeds.

International President Lee Saunders also spoke in favor of the resolution citing the song “Lean on Me” to let Illinois members know they can lean on the whole union for support.

Showing their unity with Illinois’ public service workers, convention delegates representing more than one million AFSCME members nationwide pledged to “make every effort to provide assistance, whether with financial contributions, staff support, or other forms of solidarity.” 

In the end, it will be up to every union member in state government to decide—by democratic vote—whether to go out on strike if necessary. But with the support of their national union solidly behind them, Illinois state employees will be ready to do whatever it takes.

Related News