News Local/State

Rauner Should Personally Negotiate With AFSCME: Manar

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) in a 2014 photo. Amanda Vinicky/IPR

Andy Manar, whose Illinois Senate district includes a large number of state employees, is once again challenging Republican Governor Bruce Rauner to personally negotiate with AFSCME, the state’s largest government union.  

The union members will vote this month on authorizing a strike.  AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and the Rauner Administration have failed to reach agreement on a new contract. 

Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill, says the governor needs to take steps to avoid a strike or a lockout.  

“He sold himself to the people of the state as a businessman who can make deals, that can bring stability and certainty to state government, and there’s no better place to show that that’s the case than right now with this impasse with AFSCME", said Manar.

Manar made the remarks in a phone call with reporters.

Late last year, the Illinois Labor Relations Board declared contract negotiations to be at an impasse --- a ruling that AFSCME is challenging in court.

The union has since offered a new proposal in hopes of reopening talks, including limited wage freezes and the possibility of charging employees more for health insurance --- although not as much as the Rauner administration is asking. Manar called the new AFSCME proposal a "profound step", and urged Rauner to take a "profound step" in return by negotiating personally with the union.

But the Springfield State Journal-Register reports that there was no hint of interest in Manar's proposal in a statement from a Rauner spokeswoman.

According to the newspaper, spokeswoman Catherine Kelly brought up the 19 contracts that the Rauner administration has negotiated with other state employee unions. She called on Manar to encourage the union to work with the adminstration on a new contract agreement that would "implement these items that are fair to both employees and taxpayers."