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April 3, 2000

AFSCME's Refusal To Bargain A Blow To Good-Faith Negotiations

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan expressed concern today that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is refusing to continue negotiations over a new contract, leaving a four-year, $1.5 billion wage and benefit package from the state on the table.

Over the weekend AFSCME representatives abruptly walked out of scheduled contract negotiations with the state's negotiators, raising serious questions about the union's desire to reach a new labor agreement before the General Assembly adjourns the spring legislative session.

"The state has had a proposal on the table for about a month that is comparable with state public employee contracts in other states," Ryan said. "AFSCME's refusal to continue talking is a serious blow to good-faith negotiations. I'm concerned that this move will delay an agreement and I am instructing the state's bargaining team to make every effort to get these talks back on track."

Because the General Assembly must ratify any changes in the AFSCME contract through the state budget process, both the state and AFSCME have been working to reach a contract agreement by April 14. If an agreement cannot be reached, extended contract negotiations could force lawmakers into an overtime session and delay final action on state government's FY 2001 budget.

In the most recent contract negotiations, AFSCME representatives have demanded wage increases of more than 6 percent annually for each of the next four fiscal years. The state's contract offer includes average pay raises of 4.3 percent to 4.5 percent per year.

In Indiana, the negotiated labor agreement for state employees calls for 4 percent pay raises in Fiscal Year 2000 and Fiscal Year 2001. In Iowa, the negotiated pay raises for state employees totals 3 percent in FY 2000 and 2.6 percent in FY 2001. In Michigan, the negotiated raises for state workers was 3 percent in FY 2000, 2 percent plus a $375 bonus in FY 2001 and 2 percent plus a $375 bonus in FY 2002.

Over the last nine years, the cumulative general salary increases for AFSCME employees in Illinois has totaled 33.2 percent, compared to 28.2 percent for other state and local bargaining units across the country.

Ryan also expressed concern that AFSCME has not agreed to a tougher policy for illegal drug use by employees of the Department of Corrections. The current contract allows corrections employees three violations before dismissal. Ryan supports a "zero-tolerance" illegal drug use policy for DOC workers.

The current AFSCME contract expires on June 30, 2000. The union represents 44,000 of the 66,000 state employees under the governor's jurisdiction.


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