AFSCME gets a jump on talking strike

By Greg Bishop 
Illinois News Network

As if things between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees aren’t contentious enough, the union is calling for a strike assessment meeting.

The two parties are in the middle of a labor dispute being handled by the Illinois Labor Relations Board. The Labor Board is meeting July 7 to consider a request by the administration to expedite its decision on whether the two sides are at a negotiating impasse.

A flier reported by the Capitol Fax blog calls for a special strike assessment and information meeting on June 30. The blog said the flier was posted to the union bulletin board at the state prison in Decatur.

AFSCME told the blog that if the governor’s terms are allowed to be imposed by the state labor board, public service workers would be forced to either work under those terms or go on strike.

Last week, at the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois annual meeting, Rauner gave his takeaway from negotiations in which he says AFSCME was asking for $3 billion more in raises over a four-year contract.

“I said ‘no,’ and they said ‘yes,’ and I said ‘no,’ and they said ‘we’ll strike,’ and I said ‘Well, I hope you don’t and I don’t want you to. I’m not going to lock you out but if you do that, I’ll miss you. Bye-bye,’” Rauner said. “We’re going to still run the government,”

“And they said, ‘Oh, no governor has ever said that to us. We always get what we want.’ I said ‘Well, I’m not a politician. I’m working for the taxpayers here and we’re going to change the system,’” Rauner said.

Meanwhile, the Rauner administration is reacting to the report about the flier. Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said, “To even talk of striking, much less taking a vote, before the labor board has had a chance to rule in the case is not only irresponsible but also a violation of the parties’ tolling agreement.”

The state and AFSCME have been without a contract since July 2015.

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