From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

AFSCME Union Continues Contract Talks with State

Illinois' largest public-employee union is midway through its third month without a new state contract.

State workers who belong to AFSCME are still under a contract, which is last year's contract. The union is still in talks with Gov. Pat Quinn on a new one. 

According to an email AFSCME sent to members, which was first reported by the Capitol Fax blog, the administration wants employees to earn less money and pay more for health care.

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall wouldn't address details on the negotiations, but he verified the email is legitimate.

"We are a very great distance from a fair agreement," Lindall said.

Lindall also wouldn't comment on murmurs of a possible strike. He did say it is no secret that state employees are angry with Quinn, but he said they have never been pushed to the point of going on strike.

"We want to reach a fair agreement and we've time and again over decades shown our ability to do that in good times and in bad," Lindall added. "We're hopeful that this administration will reach the same conclusion. That continuing to blame and attack and vilify public servants is unproductive, it's unfair and it's insulting."

A possible strike is not imminent. The union would have to file advance notice, but Lindall said the "discontent" among state employees is "very real" and workers will continue to protest at the governor's public appearances. Lindall said he hopes it doesn't escalate further.

Gov. Quinn's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but has called for shared sacrifice in tough budget times.