AFSCME Council 31 members ratify contract with Illinois

Illinois Correspondent

AFSCME Council 31, the largest union of Illinois state employees, has ratified its new contract with the state after voting overwhelmingly in favor of the agreement.

Negotiators for the state and Council 31 reached a tentative agreement on July 1. Labor leaders then met with locals throughout the state over the past two weeks to review and vote on the terms.

“AFSCME members care deeply about serving their communities,” said AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch. “They go above and beyond to meet challenges like the COVID pandemic and staff shortages. This contract helps to address the toll that inflation has taken on state employee incomes and keeps health care affordable.”

The four-year agreement provides for a four-percent pay increase retroactive to July 1, and base wages will go up nearly 18 percent over the next four years.

Other provisions include:

  • Parental leave expanded to 12 weeks, doubling the current six weeks.
  • Contract language updated to reflect the state’s transition to a modern electronic hiring process for state agencies.
  • A joint Labor-management committee will be formed to identify roadblocks to hiring and increase retention of current employees.
  • A pilot program for recruitment bonuses for positions with high vacancy rates.

Approximately 8,000 vacancies in state employee positions need to be filled, according to the State Journal-Register, which made recruitment and retainment of employees a major focus of negotiations.

“Illinois is a pro-worker state, and when it comes to workers’ rights, my administration is committed to ensuring that every Illinoisan has access to good-paying opportunities,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “This contract represents a partnership that won’t just expand our pool of state employees – it will strengthen our state’s workforce and provide opportunity for employees and their families. I’m thankful for a productive negotiation that led to a contract which recognizes the valuable contributions of state employees and makes government more efficient.”

The contract negotiations appeared to be going slowly until the end of June, when negotiators went into a weeklong bargaining session that went late into the night of June 30, which was the end of the Illinois fiscal year.

The estimated cost of the stipends and cost-of-living adjustments is approximately $625 million over four years, Pritzker spokesperson Alex Gough told the State Journal-Register.

AFSCME Council 31 represents more than 90,000 active and retired government employees, including state workers, universities, local school districts and others ranging from correctional facilities to the staff of the Field Museum of Chicago, who voted to join AFSCME in March.

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