• AFSCME threatening to reject contract

    by  • April 30, 2013 • News

    The state’s largest employee union is threatening to dump the contract it just approved.

    According to Kurt Erickson, with the Quad City Times, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents more than 35,000 prison guards, social service workers and child welfare employees, said it is considering a new vote on the three-year contract members ratified in March. afscme

    The union said a do-over is required because the first vote was based on the Quinn administration’s commitment to drop its appeal of a court decision ordering the release of unpaid raises to employees.

    Gov. Pat Quinn has asked that the appeal be dropped, but the authority rests with Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

    Madigan’s office said last week it won’t drop the suit until state lawmakers actually pay the money owed to workers, which amounts to as much as $145 million.

    “We think the appeal should be dropped and the matter put to rest,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer said. “Since the earlier vote was based on assurances that the appeal would be withdrawn, union members have a right to re-vote now.”

    Legislation that would approve money for the back wages is pending in the House.

    Some agencies say that without the money for the back wages, they will run out of spending authority before the end of the fiscal year on July 1.

    Top brass at the Illinois Department of Corrections, for example, told lawmakers last week they need at least $40 million to continue operating.

    Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said Tuesday night that it would be premature to dismiss the appeal until the Legislature acts.

    “If the state dismissed the appeal before the Legislature decides whether to appropriate the money, that would take a legal option off the table for the state,” she said in an email.

    “Ultimately, this is a funding issue for the Legislature, the governor’s office and AFSCME to work out through the budget process,” Bauer added.