You’ve heard the saying, ‘There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel’. As we thought negotiations were going in the right direction after two years of sitting at the table with management, it turns out we were completely wrong. The light we’ve been waiting for was an oncoming express train that rolled over us today.
Our assigned Federal Mediator informed us before our session was to begin that the County is close to reaching a contract agreement with either the Teamsters or SEIU. This is very disparaging news, as all our work over two plus years now seems in vain. We have wage increases with retro pay on-the-table, which the County will undermine yet again by reaching a contract agreement with another ‘union’, and we use that term lightly, first.
AFSCME is part of the coalition which formed “We Are One”. Unfortunately, it now is everyone for themselves. We are about to be forced to take less money in overall wages, pay more for health care coverage, and see annual deductibles and co-pays increase because the County is doing an ‘end around’ AFSCME.
Then to confirm that a contract deal is near with someone ‘other’ than us, management never came into the room to begin today’s scheduled negotiation session. We are exploring what options to pursue going forward. Beware of oncoming trains.
Sorry for the delay since our last posting. We have been busy with contract negotiations, which suddenly have taken a turn from get-it-done to let’s-see-and-wait. More on this later.
- Transfer of assignments from the bid list are not going well. Management waited too long before starting the process in lieu of assigning the new class, and now are offering positions that have not been bid on to those who have placed legitimate transfers. We have been in conversations with management over transfers made & unmade, but they have refused our assistance to straighten out this mess. If left unresolved, grievances will be followed.
- Sangamon County Judge John Belz agreed with the We Are One Coalition of Unions that the Illinois Pension Reform Law passed by both legislatures in 2013 is unconstitutional. This ruling has affirmed previous rulings, and will now head to the Illinois Supreme Court on appeal by the State. County and City leaders are watching closely what happens with the State appeal, as both have pension reform bills of their own to present in Springfield in the new session in January 2015.
- Governor Pat Quinn lost his bid for reelection, but that was not because of the efforts of Labor. We turned out the most volunteers for the campaign, but money talks and 27 million dollars of the winning candidates own bank account along with cash influx from the Koch Brothers was just too much to overcome. Some people have made open comments that “maybe it won’t be as bad as we said it would”. Apparently they didn’t bother to watch any of the videos posted on this site or the Council 31 page. All State funding is now in play, and guess who funds this department’s salaries???
- Former AFSCME Council 31 Staff Rep and Regional Director Nefertiti Smith retired from Council 31 on November 21st. Nef was our longest staff rep, and help shape us into the Local that we are today. Congratulations Nef! Enjoy your retirement! You have earned it and you WILL be missed!
- Contract negotiations are once again moving at a snails pace, as the County is insistent that we agree to their demands for higher health care payments on various items including; doctor visits, prescriptions, ER co pays and overall plan design. We are holding firm that we can’t consider paying more without getting more money on the table. Things got so bad on during last Thursday’s negotiation session that the County made a single counter proposal, gave us their lecture again about how the need/demand health care relief, and they left for the day. The bargaining committee formulated a letter to President Preckwinkle, which was signed by all the Local Presidents. This letter was then hand delivered by the entire bargaining committee to the President herself at her office in the County Building. Upon receiving the note, she had the audacity to say that her representatives said that negotiations are going very well! Have absolutely no idea of which union that may be going on with, but is certainly isn’t us!
- Unhappy Anniversary! We have now passed the 2 year mark trying to get this contract resolved. We’re going to need more help. What are YOU willing to do to get a contract with pay raises and fair health care?
- Congratulations to all Local 3486 members who have retired or will retire by December 31st. Enjoy your retirement! You have earned it! Your Probation is Terminated Satisfactory!
- Wishing All of You, Our Sisters & Brothers a very happy Thanksgiving! Hope your gatherings are festive, and your travels are safe!
The Executive Board
If you have already cast your vote, thank you. If you haven’t exercised your right to vote yet, please do so today before 7pm at your local polling place.
AFSCME Council 31 has endorsed Governor Pat Quinn for re-election. We’re asking for your vote too.
If you value the right to have collective bargaining for wages & health care, you should vote for Quinn. Without this right, as our sisters & brothers in neighboring states don’t have, management will dictate what we will receive and pay. Remember, management wanted an 18% across-the-board increase in health care premiums, double doctor visit co-pays & double prescription co-pays. And their wage increase was less than 4% over 4 years. Do the math.
It’s your choice. Your Union depends on today’s outcome. Your benefits depend on today’s outcome. Your job may depend on today’s outcome.
If you are not a regular reader of the Chicago Sun-Times, you may have already heard that their political reporter Dave McKinney has resigned his position after being put on administrative leave from the paper. This was in response to publishing the story about Rauner threatening to ruin Christine Kirk, one of his job outsourcing firms, and for questioning the sudden reversal of policy to endorse candidates once again. Now, while this usually doesn’t make news, the underlying shenanigans are intriguing. You can read the McKinney story in today’s paper.
Mark Brown, a Sun-Times feature columnist, further comments on the Rauner happenings. Here is his column from today’s paper: (With thanks to the Sun-Times…)
Rauner’s big plans for Illinois? None of your business
At Monday night’s Illinois governor debate, Republican Bruce Rauner completed an amazing personal transformation — of a kind only seen in religion and politics — when he vowed he “will” raise the state’s minimum wage if elected.
Just one year ago, Rauner was appealing to would-be supporters on the basis he was “adamantly, adamantly” opposed to raising the minimum wage.
That’s when he wasn’t telling them he favored reducing the minimum wage to make Illinois companies more competitive, or, by his own admission later, that he would eliminate the minimum wage altogether.
After these views were reported to the larger public, setting off a predictable furor, Rauner began his tortuous return to reality.
By way of backtracking, Rauner first said we should raise the national minimum wage (not in a governor’s power), then later offered a plan to increase the state minimum wage but only in exchange for concessions to the business community, and now finally this no caveat git-r-done promise.
And the man still says he’s not a politician.
In the echo chamber of the cigar room at Rauner’s GTCR corporate headquarters, where the masters of the universe sat around telling each other how smart they were for leveraging the pension funds of the public employees Rauner disdains to make themselves rich, I’m sure nobody ever bothered to push back when he espoused his views on how to fix the world.
They certainly wouldn’t have quarreled with his purist’s take on capitalism — a free enterprise system with no floor for the weak and no ceiling for the strong, such as his fellow titans of private equity.
And so we can thank the rigors of a political campaign for informing Rauner that other people — namely a majority of registered voters — see a minimum wage as more than a number on a spreadsheet but as the pay for actual jobs on which many individuals rely to feed their families.
On that subject at least, there is no longer much reason to fear a Rauner governorship. He will not try to cut the minimum wage. He’s got religion.
But what about all the other strongly held views on how to make this state a better place to live, views that burned so fiercely in Rauner’s belly that he decided he should be the one to lead Illinois to economic salvation?
I’ve been particularly interested in Rauner’s vocal disdain toward labor unions, also much on display in the run-up to the Republican primary and more recently dormant.
I realize only a fraction of the workforce belongs to a union these days. And whether union member or not, few have much appreciation for how important the unions were in providing the thin legal protections workers enjoy these days — from the minimum wage to compensation for on-the-job injuries to temporary replacement pay for the unemployed. Nor do they understand how important the unions are to maintaining those protections.
Still, what I don’t understand is who it is that surveys the landscape in the year 2014 and thinks to themselves that working people have entirely too much power and what this country really needs is to further reduce the influence of the unions. Rauner does.
Rauner reiterated his support Monday for a plan to create right-to-work zones in Illinois, designated geographic enclaves where unions would have less strength so that one community could lure a business away from another community with the prospect of paying workers less.
I’m still waiting for Rauner to answer the question I posed to him last year about whether teachers should have the right to strike. He promised to get back to me.
Everyone is still waiting for Rauner to get back to them with details of his plan to fix the state’s pension systems. The vague proposal he’s outlined just wouldn’t work.
Likewise, the numbers in his budget plans don’t add up. Either he doesn’t have a real plan — or he’s not revealing it, which reminds me of a speech Rauner gave last year to the Wauconda Township Republican Club that can be found on YouTube.
A woman in the audience asked Rauner something about “unions and lawyers.”
“You’re right,” he laughed in response. “Basically, Springfield is owned by government union bosses and the trial lawyers. They’ve got us by the throats and I’m going to do …”
Then Rauner interrupted himself.
“Some of this I’m not going to talk about publicly,” he confided. “This is probably going to go out on YouTube.”
Rauner went on to reveal just a little. He said he’s going to use executive orders to ”take on” government unions, patterning his action after former Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana.
But he couldn’t really talk about it. YouTube, you understand.
Bruce Rauner has big plans for Illinois, and he’ll let you know all about them — after the election.
Cook County APD is funded by AOIC. Where does AOIC get their money from? The State of course! And if this man buys the governorship of Illinois, will he cut funding from ALL STATE BUDGETS? What do you think? This is not a joke. This man can and will change our standard of living should he become governor! WATCH THE VIDEO!
Union Sisters & Brothers,
AFSCME Council 31 is having a Local Union Stewards training on November 12 & 13 2014, to be held at the AFSCME offices at 205 North Michigan Avenue, 21st floor, from 8:30a to 5p each day. This is a two day training & you must attend each day to become certified.
Even if you are unsure if you want to be a steward, it is an excellent opportunity to become adept in knowing your constitutional rights. You MUST be registered to attend, so please notify President Dunaway at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
A strong steward structure helps build a strong Local!
Remember the Heinz commercial where various people are waiting patiently for the ketchup to come out of the bottle, while Carly Simon sings ‘Anticipation’? That’s how today’s negotiations went. But we didn’t achieve satisfaction like in the commercial.
After our last session on the 16th, hopes were high that we could finally put this contract to bed. But all hope was dashed quickly after management moved a date on a wage upgrade, and changed their prescription drug co-pays. While talks continued into the afternoon, no other moves were forthcoming from management’s side of the table.
Management made it clear once again that they want to bring our medical costs in line with various City & State agencies. We made it clear yet again that this isn’t going to happen until we see the money on the table! So today ended in a loggerhead. Management needs to be ‘motivated’. This is where we need you! Again.
Negotiations will resume next Wednesday. We need you to show support for the bargaining team by wearing green, wearing your wrist bands or stickers, making a phone call or several to Madame Prez on a certain date, and showing once and for all that you want a contract that has a pay raise and manageable health care costs! Management needs to see that you GIVE A DAMN!
Quite frankly, we need to see so too. We need you to get behind us now more that ever. We don’t want management turning to another union at this late date to resolve wages and health care costs; as happened in the last contract. That’s why it’s so important to bring this to a resolution now!
If you don’t believe that your participation is important, then we can accept the current deal on the table for wages & health care and be done with bargaining for another two or three years. Or, we fight together to get better wages and a fair health care package. The choice is yours…
By the way…. Council 31 acknowledged the strong support coming from some of our members, manning the phone banks and canvassing areas for the Quinn campaign! Keep up the good work! Volunteers are still needed! Call Claudia at (773) 674-2560 to sign up!
As the polls open around the County & State for early voting, we encourage you to exercise your right to vote and cast a ballot in the November 4th election.
If you value the right to have collective bargaining to negotiate wages and health care premiums, instead of being told what they are going to be, you must cast your vote for Pat Quinn.
AFSCME Council 31 has endorsed Governor Quinn. The major newspapers across the state haven’t. They blame the pension mess on him, and believe that his opponent will fix it. They also blame AFSCME for demanding that the State live up to their contractual obligations, and those of the Illinois Constitution. His opponent will change the pension system to a 401k investment system, fire government employees and privatize as many positions as possible. This is how he will ‘fix’ the pension mess.
Don’t think it could happen here? Don’t think it will happen? That’s what the Union Sisters & Brothers in Wisconsin thought too! Watch the videos in the 9/13 post below again. The State Legislature and Courts have teamed together to strip and limit Union Rights across the State of Wisconsin. Mr. Quinn’s opponent has called Scott Walker his ROLE MODEL! What does that tell you?
Contract negotiations resume tomorrow. It is also AFSCME Solidarity Day! So wear your green t-shirts & wrist bands to show solidarity with the bargaining team!
Will this be the last contract? Don’t think it’s possible here? Watch the videos. Then gather your family, friends and neighbors and go to the polls starting today through November 2nd, or on Tuesday November 4th and cast your vote for Pat Quinn. If you don’t, November 5th will be the start of an entirely new agenda and we are Public Enemy Number One on his list!
And you thought your vote didn’t count!
Volunteers are still needed to work the call centers to get out the vote for Quinn! You can choose from two locations:
205 North Michigan Avenue, 21st Floor, Chicago
935 175th Street, 3rd Floor, Homewood
Call Claudia at (773) 674-2560 to sign up!
Today is the last day to file a bid for transfer of assignment. Management will freeze the bid list on Monday, and who knows when/if any movement will occur over the next few weeks. So if you want to place a bid for a new assignment, or if you need to update a transfer request because it is over one year old, today is the last day to do so before the list is frozen.
The list will reopen again at a later time.
Volunteers are still needed to make phone calls to get out the vote on November 4th for Pat Quinn. Calls are made on Monday – Thursday nights from various locations. Volunteers are also needed to pass out flyers/canvass neighborhoods on Saturdays too. Call Council 31 at (312) 641-6060 to sign up!
Our future as a Union depends on a Quinn Win! We don’t want to become a Wisconsin ‘annex’!