News Local/State

AFSCME Strike Prevention Stalls As Budget Takes Spotlight


Illinois' contract with the state's largest employee union expires at the end of the month and negotiations with the governor are said to be going badly.

Democrats are trying to prevent a potential strike but the governor might have other plans.

AFSCME pushed the legislation so its 38,000 members would be able to continue working without a contract past the June 30 deadline.

It's an apparent reaction to memos sent from Govv Bruce Rauner's office to state agencies, asking them about what they'd need to keep running in case of a strike.

Rauner has previously said he'd invite a strike or government shutdown for the sake of cost savings. His office has indicated he'll veto the bill. 

Senate president John Cullerton, a Democrat from Chicago, says that would hinder progress.

"The statements he's made about, 'Hey let's take a strike' I mean, that's not the way to--that's dramatic," he said. "It's unnecessary."
Republicans voted against the legislation, but Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin) says he neither hopes for nor expects a strike.
"It's unfathomable to me that those who have fought their entire life for the right to organize and to bargain and have that kind of hammer as a last resort as a strike would ever consider trading that away," he said.
Freshman Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana), who was elected with a swell of union support, says while she supports AFSCME's right to stike, she hopes the union won't walk away from negotiations, should they run overtime.
"We encourage them to stay at the table," Ammons said. "That is the thing that we really need to make sure that we don't lose the very needed services that the state depends on for all of its' residents." 
The expiration of the contract coincides with the end of the governor's spending authority. Getting a new budget in place is expected to be the top priority for Springfield this month.