State Board Declares Impasse Between State And Labor Union

Members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union listen to a a union leader at a forum in Springfield in 2012. File

The labor deal that AFSCME's 38,000 members could be forced to accept would save the state an estimated $3 billion, Gov. Bruce Rauner's office has said. "Our union strongly disagrees with this ruling", AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said in a statement.

Baker said unions are also anxious about losing support in the state capitol after Democrats lost their supermajority in this month's election.

On the budget front, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said he believes a deal can be reached using the framework that produced other partial budget agreements during Rauner's tenure, including a stopgap spending plan that's now funding most state operations through December 31. The union's previous contract expired July 1, 2015, and a potential strike by state employees has loomed like a dark cloud over Springfield ever since.

The state ended contract talks with AFSCME, the largest union of IL state employees, in January.

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Noelle said AFSCME will first try to appeal the board's decision. "In turn, we will be working to pay for our health insurance a lot".

State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield), a Peoria native who has always been active in local civic life, recently lauded Gov. Bruce Rauner's approach to Illinois' Bicentennial Celebration, set for 2018, commending his initiative in establishing a Bicentennial Commission. Rauner's administration intends to implement a 40-hour workweek, instead of 37.5 hours and a merit-pay system as soon as possible.

To ease the financial burden on taxpayers, Rauner's proposal to the union includes a temporary four-year wage freeze on AFSCME salaries. Illinoispolicy.org said IL state workers rank among the highest paid in the nation.

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly called the decision "fair for taxpayers and state employees".

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"The Bicentennial is a tremendous opportunity for us to tell the story of IL to the nation and the world", Butler said.

Rauner, on the other hand, is trying to bring union costs in line with what Illinoisans can afford, while avoiding widespread state worker layoffs.

Brittany Adams, 29, of Chicago, works as a case worker for the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The Republican governor told a group of business owners gathered in Springfield to discuss his stalled economic agenda that he spoke with Trump on Friday and is confident IL would have a strong voice in Washington.

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