AFSCME Council 31 and the Rauner administration have reached a deal allowing the two sides to continue contract talks through the end of September, ending the possibility of a strike or lockout up until that point.
The deal extends the terms of the labor contract between the union and state, which expired on June 30, for another two months. This is the second time the two sides have agreed to extend the terms of the expired contract.
AFSCME issued this statement on Wednesday about the contract extension and status of negotiations:
The terms of our existing agreement with the state have been temporarily extended through at least Sept. 30. This temporary extension underscores our union's commitment to reaching a fair agreement with no disruption to state services, and gives us the ability to keep working toward an agreement in the weeks to come.
Even so, the parties remain very far apart on many basic issues as a result of the Rauner Administration's continued extreme demands that would undermine public services, strip the rights of public service workers, reduce access to health care and make it impossible to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
At the same time, reports have revealed that the Rauner Administration is soliciting strike breakers, including retired state employees and potentially the Illinois National Guard. These actions suggest the Rauner Administration is planning a work stoppage that would be counter to the public interest.
In recent days the Governor's public comments have changed in tone, forgoing the confrontational tenor of earlier remarks. We hope his Administration's actions will comport with that new tone--such as making real progress at the bargaining table, halting the recruitment of strike breakers, or enacting Senate Bill 1229 to provide a final recourse of arbitration to settle differences between the parties without disrupting public services.
Later on Wednesday, the governor vetoed the legislation cited in AFSCME's statement. The bill sought to ban a state worker strike or lockout by the administration if negotiations break down over a new labor contract.
Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto message said in part that the bill was "based on a false premise that our administration has been unreasonable in labor negotiations and wants to lockout employees or prompt an employee strike."
"Nothing could be further from the truth," the message adds. "We have negotiated in good faith with AFSCME since shortly after I took office. We came with our proposals ready on day one, and we made significant concessions from our initial proposals, including revising our proposals on management rights, dues collection, holidays, subcontracting, layoffs, and employee pensions."