By ELIZABETH DONALD
Springfield, IL – AFSCME Council 31, the largest union in the state representing state workers, has reached a tentative agreement with the state of Illinois.
AFSCME reports they reached an agreement early in the morning on July 1, but did not release details of the settlement. The specifics are being presented to members at upcoming ratification meetings across the state and offered for their vote.
A month ago, negotiations were slow with demonstrations throughout the state calling for a fair contract to replace the current contract, which expired June 30. Initial rounds of negotiations focused on expanding job rights and addressing understaffing, the impact of inflation on take-home pay, the state’s proposal to drastically increase health insurance costs, and increased overtime requirements.
“We’re putting fair proposals out there and being met with resistance,” Dan Jackson, president of AFSCME Local 2794 and military maintenance engineer in the Department of Military Affairs, said on May 31. “What the state is offering is nowhere near what we need. The inflation rate has been through the roof. We’ve lost ground and we need to make it up.”
Christina Carter, member of the bargaining committee from AFSCME Local 38, said in May that the state’s health insurance proposal would mean employees would be “working to pay for health care.”
Gov. JB Pritzker told the Chicago Tribune that contract negotiations were friendly and focused on getting the job done by the start of the fiscal year on July 1.
“When you come to the table with goodwill in your heart to try to reach (an) agreement, and I think both sides did that, even when sometimes you have small disagreements in the process, the end result will be one that we can all be proud of and here we reached one that I think everybody is proud of,” he said.
AFSCME Council 31 represents more than 90,000 active and retired government employees, including state workers, universities, local school districts and others.