40,000 state employees will show up for work today without a contract. On Tuesday, Governor Pat Quinn took the unprecedented step of terminating Illinois' contract with the state's largest public employees union, AFSCME. The contract expired in June, but the two sides agreed to multiple extensions as they negotiated over a new one.
In a statement, Quinn's assistant budget director says the state has made "significant efforts to compromise." But he says AFSCME is refusing to recognize Illinois' fiscal crisis. He says terminating the contract is an attempt to force progress. The union sees it differently.
AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says it's an extreme step:
"Our union is committed to reaching the same kind of fair contract agreement that we have reached with governors of both parties over four decades. But really regrettably Governor Quinn seems bent on going in the wrong direction and provoking confrontation with worker and with our union."
AFSCME and the state are scheduled to resume negotiations December 11th. This is only the latest in a series of battles between the union and Quinn. AFSCME says the governor's unfairly punishing hard-working employees as he attempts to save money through budget cuts, facility closures, and a pension overhaul.
Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report