Wed August 15, 2012
Unions irritated with Quinn over contract, pensions
Illinois labor leaders are accusing Gov. Pat Quinn of trampling employees' rights and betraying the Democratic Party's history of supporting workers.
They're angry because unions made concessions to help save money and then Quinn canceled raises guaranteed by their contract. They also object to his plans to cut jobs and reduce retirement benefits.
Roberta Lynch of AFSCME, the state's largest public employees union, says her members ``do not have any faith or trust'' in Quinn.
The unions spoke out Wednesday as Democrats gathered to celebrate Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair.
Quinn says the state's budget crisis leaves him no choice but to cancel raises, close facilities and cut pension costs.
A coalition of labor unions -- including those that represent state workers, teachers, police and nurses -- also angry about budget cuts and Quinn's plans to close state facilities ... cuts they say mean 4,000 people will lose their jobs.
There's also an ongoing court dispute over pay raises the governor cancelled last summer. AFSCME members claim they were guaranteed the higher wages in their last contract that was supposed to have expired by July.
It's been extended, and all of those issues are weighing on current negotiations.
Bargaining takes place behind closed doors, but it's no secret there are complicating factors -- like the possibility that AFSMCE members will see their pensions reduced.
The legislature is scheduled to debate issue that in a special session Friday.
Retired state workers already are bracing to pay more for their health care. Many who had long careers with the state pay no premium now. How much they'll pay in the future is part of the ongoing negotiations.
A federal mediator has been hired to help move talks along.