81% of AFSCME Illinois state workers vote for strike authorization.


From AFSCME 31.

In the first-ever strike authorization vote in Illinois state government, an 81 percent majority of the members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 have voted to give their union bargaining committee the authority to call a strike.

The vote comes after Governor Bruce Rauner broke off negotiations with the union more than a year ago and has refused to even meet with the AFSCME bargaining committee ever since.

“We have come to this juncture for one reason only: The refusal of Governor Rauner to negotiate with our union,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said.

Instead of working toward compromise, Governor Rauner has been seeking the power to unilaterally impose his own extreme demands, including a 100% hike in employee costs for health care that would take $10,000 out of the pocket of the average state worker, a four-year wage freeze and an end to safeguards against irresponsible privatization.

“Bruce Rauner may think he can dictate, not negotiate, but this vote shows that AFSCME members are determined to stand up for basic fairness,” Lynch said.

“I voted YES to authorize a strike because my family needs health care we can afford, because my community needs public services it can rely on, and because Governor Rauner needs to come back to the bargaining table,” said Stephen Mittons, a child protective investigator in the Illinois Department of Human Services in Chicago.

“As public service workers we are willing to do our part, but it can’t be Governor Rauner’s way or nothing at all,” said Nicole Power, an Illinois Department of Revenue employee in Springfield. “I can’t understand Bruce Rauner’s stubborn refusal to negotiate. He has to be willing to meet us in the middle.”

“We live in our communities, we care about our communities and we serve our communities,” said Steve Howerter, a counselor at Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton. “We understand the situation the state is in money-wise, because we are taxpayers too. And so we are willing to do our part, but what we’re not willing to do is give up our voice.”

AFSCME Council 31 represents some 38,000 Illinois state employees who protect kids, care for veterans and the disabled, respond to emergencies, help struggling families and much more.

The vote to authorize the union bargaining committee to call a strike does not necessarily mean that there will be a strike. The bargaining committee will meet in the coming days to chart its path, and pending litigation could also play a role.

“State workers don’t want to strike. We are keenly aware of the importance of the public services we provide, and we are willing to compromise,” AFSCME director Lynch said. “But if Governor Rauner continues to refuse his legal obligation to bargain in good faith, he risks a strike that would shut down state government, and he alone bears responsibility for the harm a strike would cause.”

4 Replies to “81% of AFSCME Illinois state workers vote for strike authorization.”

  1. I think they will pursue the litigation to the end first to force Rauner back . They have a solid unfair labor practice suit and I know very good lawyers. Rauner is under injunction and I think that judge has to hear the case then it goes appellate the ILSC so my guess based on our pension suit timelines and Fred can correct me is we are looking at mid to late 2018. There may be retiree health care issues but those are not real clear. There is a forced choice for current employees between massive cost increases or giving up their retiree health benefits.Sounds familiar

    1. Unfortunately, Rauner has stacked the Illinois Labor Board with viciously anti-labor right wing extremists.
      Rauner’s plan all along has been to force a strike and cause complete collapse of state government and falsely blame it on the unions. We all need to support them and AFSCME if a strike occurs. I expect endless attack ads from Rauner.

  2. I agree with Anon. Rauner wants the state to fail. He has done a good job of it so far after only 2 years. He would love to have AFSCME strike. He is hoping to hear the screams of all folks in Illinois. But I hope he hears the judges and lawyers who should be able to force him back to the table. There must be a way to circumvent the IL Labor Board who consists only of anti-labor appointees. The appointment of anti-labor people to this board is yet another thing that much be fixed if we ever get a sane governor who is not on the fast track to federal prison.

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