We don’t get it anymore. We know your frustrated. How the hell do you think we feel? We ask you to participate in job actions that will benefit you, and 50 people show up. We ask you to make a phone call, from home, your cell or your desk that will benefit you in the end, and we get flak. So now we’re asking, “What the Hell do YOU Want?!?!”
Most of you received an email or a fax asking you to call your legislators in Springfield to save your own pension. We don’t have numbers on how many of you already did this, but if past practice holds true, most of you haven’t called yet. Pensions aren’t part of the ongoing contract bargaining sessions, so if you don’t care if your pension gets screwed over with more contributions and less benefits you have no one to blame but yourself.
There is grumbling from the floor that we don’t have a contract yet. We’re not thrilled about that either. The county has dragged this on way too long because they don’t have the money to pay out past retro monies for the years of 2013 and 2104. We’ve already told you what the Teamsters, SEIU and now FOP have willingly agreed to, but since there has been discussion about it, we’ll go over it again.
According to agreements with all the a fore mentioned, here is what they got:
Wages: 1% June 1, 2013. 1% June 1, 2014. 2% June 1, 2015. 2% December 1, 2105. 2.25% December 1, 2016. 2% November 30, 2016. That totals 10.75 over the life of the contract.
Health Care changes are as follows: Classic Blue HMO is eliminated. HMO out-of-pocket maximum is $1,600/$3,200. HMO Accident/Illness co-pay is $15. HMO Urgent Care co-pay is $15. HMO Specialist co-pay is $20. HMO ER co-pay is $75.
PPO Deductible is $350/$700. PPO out-of-pocket maximum is $1,600/$3,200. PPO Accident/Illness co-pay is 90% after $25 co-pay. PPO Specialist is 90% after $25 co-pay, PPO ER co-pay $75. Prescription (HMO & PPO) $10/$25/$40. Generic Step Therapy will be implemented. Mandatory Maintenance Choice will be implemented. Healthcare contributions will increase by 1% of salary (.5% increase on 12/1/15 & .5% on 12/1/16.)
Because healthcare has already been finalized with others, we may not be able to change any of the agreed amounts. With wages, we are trying to get better than the 10.75 back loaded amounts. As for where we stand right now with the county, 10.75 isn’t on the table for us. While the percentages look good, remember that costs for services have gone up which takes away from the total amount received. And if Madame Prez gets her way with pensions, we’ll be paying more into that without extra money in our pockets.
As for arbitration, the Sheriff’s Local has had a hearing with the labor board and is awaiting a decision by late July. We are not in arbitration. We are still bargaining.
Now that you know everything about what’s been agreed to by others and the pending restructuring of your pension by the folks in Springfield, we ask again, “What the hell do YOU want, and what are YOU going to do about it?” The Executive Board can’t do it all, and are tired of trying. If you don’t care enough to take in interest in your future, the HELL with you too!
From the Chicago Sun-Times….
Mike Madigan schedules vote on right-to-work, urges Rauner to give details
For months, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has toured the state trying to sell his “Turnaround Agenda,” largely centered on a push for right-to-work zones in Illinois.
Now Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is essentially telling Rauner to put up or shut up on the anti-union plan.
Madigan, D-Chicago, announced Thursday that he scheduled a vote for May 14 on whether Illinois should adopt right-to-work laws and invited the Republican governor to provide specific language for his legislation.
It was the second shot across the bow from Madigan this week, targeted at neutralizing issues Rauner has pushed lawmakers to approve as part of budget negotiations.
One Republican accused Madigan of trying to cause “chaos” by singling out the issue.
In a statement released on Thursday, Madigan’s office said it urged the governor to “file formal legislative language for his measure,” then needled Rauner for beginning to talk about right-to-work “100 days ago” but offering up no specifics to lawmakers.
As part of his tour, Rauner has urged local municipalities to adopt right-to-work laws for their own communities, which take aim at the power of unions. In those zones, workers can opt against joining unions or paying union dues as a condition of employment.
During his $60 million election for governor, Rauner repeatedly decried Illinois unions as corrupt and castigated lawmakers as contributing to the state’s economic “death spiral.” Rauner urged for local adoption of right to work in the face of the improbability of it passing statewide.
Putting the explosive issue to a vote creates a dicey political choice for Republican lawmakers who want to support their governor — particularly those who have union-heavy constituencies.
“With 24 scheduled days left in the Legislature’s spring session, Madigan encouraged the governor to introduce legislative language for the plan he has campaigned for at stops across the state,” the statement from the speaker’s office stated.
“The governor’s proposal will have a significant impact on middle-class families across Illinois,” Madigan said in a statement. “By putting the governor’s proposal to a vote, legislators will have the opportunity to ensure the voices of the middle-class families in their districts are heard.”
Rauner’s office characterized Madigan’s move as walking away from closed-door negotiations that members of the administration have engaged in with lawmakers in various working groups.
“The administration continues to negotiate in good faith over the governor’s turnaround agenda and will remain at the table as long as it takes,” a governor’s office spokesman said in a statement. “If House Democrats want to walk away from the negotiating table and vote on a proposal before there is bipartisan agreement that the material is ready to be introduced in committee, then they should start with a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on legislators.”
Madigan used a similar tactic by calling Rauner’s proposed $2 billion in human services budget cuts for a vote this week. With House Republicans saying they were caught off guard, they voted “present” and Democrats voted “no.” The ultimate tally for Rauner’s budget cut proposal: zero “yes” votes.
State Rep. Ed Sullivan, R-Mundelein, said Madigan’s move would only disrupt any chance of bipartisan progress on the budget. Sullivan said Republicans haven’t drawn up specific legislation because Democrats would only turn around and kill it.
“Gov. Rauner is trying to negotiate things in totality,” Sullivan said. “Speaker Madigan doesn’t want any part of it, so he’s trying to bring out the heater points. Cause chaos.”
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said Democrats would continue to attend working group sessions. But with the end of the session looming, Madigan believed it was appropriate to address Rauner’s premier issue.
“The governor has spoken about this topic for as long as he’s been in the seat,” Brown said. “They believe that these things have to be accomplished right now. There’s only one way to gauge if this is possible or not. A meeting, a PowerPoint, those things don’t accomplish anything under state law.”
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said he would urge his members to keep hammering away at a budget compromise.
“I currently have many working groups that are negotiating a number of agenda items for the governor and [right to work] happens to be one of them,” Durkin said. “I believe that the groups should continue on with the work and hopefully reach some kind of consensus on this issue and a number of the other issues that are being discussed by these working groups. Again, this session is about bipartisan cooperation, working together — active participation by Democrats and Republicans.”
Still, state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, welcomed a vote on the issue, saying that given all the rhetoric about right to work, it might be good to put the issue behind lawmakers and focus on the budget.
Finally! Madigan has had enough of the minimum wage jobs with no benefits package the King Bruce is pushing down our throats!
From the Chicago Tribune….
Illinois Supreme Court rules landmark pension law unconstitutional
The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday unanimously ruled unconstitutional a landmark state pension law that aimed to scale back government worker benefits to erase a massive $105 billion retirement system debt, sending lawmakers and the new governor back to the negotiating table to try to solve the pressing financial issue.
The ruling also reverberated at City Hall, imperiling a similar law Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through to shore up two of the four city worker retirement funds and making it more difficult for him to find fixes for police, fire and teacher pension funds that are short billions of dollars.
At issue was a December 2013 state law signed by then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn that stopped automatic, compounded yearly cost-of-living increases for retirees, extended retirement ages for current state workers and limited the amount of salary used to calculate pension be
Employee unions sued, arguing that the state constitution holds that pension benefits amount to a contractual agreement and once they’re bestowed, they cannot be “diminished or impaired.” A circuit court judge in Springfield agreed with that assessment in November. State government appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that economic necessity forced curbing retirement benefits.
On Friday the justices rejected that argument, saying the law clearly violated what’s known as the pension protection clause in the 1970 Illinois Constitution.
“Our economy is and has always been subject to fluctuations, sometimes very extreme fluctuations,” Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote on behalf of all seven justices. “The law was clear that the promised benefits would therefore have to be paid and that the responsibility for providing the state’s share of the necessary funding fell squarely on the legislature’s shoulders.
“It is our obligation, however, just as it is theirs, to ensure that the law is followed. That is true at all times. It is especially important in times of crisis when, as this case demonstrates, even clear principles and long-standing precedent are threatened. Crisis is not an excuse to abandon the rule of law. It is a summons to defend it,” he wrote.
The ruling means Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly will have to come up with a new solution after justices appeared to offer little in the way of wiggle room beyond paying what’s owed, which likely would require a tax increase. Coming up with a way to bridge a budget gap of more than $6 billion already was going to be difficult with little more than three weeks before a scheduled May 31 adjournment, and now the pension mess has been added to the mix.
Rauner, who argued during last year’s campaign that the law was unconstitutional and didn’t go far enough to reduce the pension debt, said the court ruling only reinforces his approach of getting voters to approve a constitutional amendment that “would allow the state to move forward on common-sense pension reforms.”
The governor has proposed allowing veteran state workers to keep the current benefits they’ve earned through a certain date, then move them into a lower-paying benefit plan created for newer state workers. To try to make that approach pass legal muster, he wants lawmakers to put on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment to clarify that future retirement benefits could be changed.
In its ruling, the court restated that state worker retirement benefits that are promised on the first day of work cannot be later reduced during their term of employment, only increased. But it is unclear whether a change in the constitution could be applied to existing state workers. Even if reluctant lawmakers were to put a measure on the ballot and voters approved it, such a change would spur years of litigation that could involve both state and federal courts.
A coalition of unions that represent government workers and retirees applauded the ruling as protecting “the hard-earned life savings of teachers, police, firefighters, nurses, caregivers and other public service workers and retirees.”
“Public service workers are helpers and problem solvers by trade. With the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling, we urge lawmakers to join us in developing a fair and constitutional solution to pension funding, and we remain ready to work with anyone of good faith to do so,” Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said in a statement.
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton issued a statement noting concerns he raised at the time the bill was passed.
“Today, the Illinois Supreme Court declared that regardless of political considerations or fiscal circumstances, state leaders cannot renege on pension obligations,” the statement read. “This ruling is a victory for retirees, public employees and everyone who respects the plain language of our constitution.”
The court decision affects not only state government but also taxpayers in Chicago and municipalities throughout Illinois struggling to cope with growing pension debts that are straining government budgets.
At City Hall, the ruling stands to loom large in lawsuits that unions and retirees filed against Emanuel’s changes to pension systems for city workers and laborers. Like the state law, the city measure reduced annual cost-of-living increases. The ruling also could hurt Emanuel’s leverage as he negotiates a pension fix for the retirement systems covering Chicago police and firefighters.
At the state level, for decades governors and lawmakers failed to put enough money into the pension systems covering most state workers and university employees, as well as suburban and downstate teachers. In playing catch-up, spending on pensions now amounts to almost a quarter of every tax dollar that goes into the state’s general bank account.
The justices went so far as to fault lawmakers for failing to keep in place a 2011 temporary income tax hike that boosted the personal tax rate to 5 percent. At the start of the year, the tax increase automatically phased down to 3.75 percent for individuals, costing the state $4 billion in annual revenue. Much of the tax increase was used to make the state’s share of pension payments during those four years.
“The General Assembly could also have sought additional tax revenue. While it did pass a temporary income tax increase, it allowed the increased rate to lapse to a lower rate even as pension funding was being debated and litigated,” Karmeier wrote.
Now Rauner and lawmakers must figure out a pension solution.
“Our path forward from here is now much more difficult, and every direction will be more painful than the balance we struck (in the pension law that was thrown out),” Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat who helped negotiate the pension law, said in a statement Friday.
This should quiet things down on the county level too!
After another bargaining session with the county, we are sad to announce that we still don’t have a contract.
With the Teamsters and SEIU having reached agreements with the county on new contracts, the county is expecting us to roll over and accept the obvious. We are not going to just roll over and take what they’ve offered.
Our negotiations have brokered the current agreements with the two previously named unions, and we use that term loosly, as we brought down the county’s health care plans from 18% to their current levels.
We are very upset that once again as we got close to an agreement, the county turned to someone else for less money and getting they’re way on health care. We meet again on April 23rd, and have no idea on what the county is going to do except steer us in the direction of their completed deals.
We are trying to salvage our negotiations, and get you the most in wages and a fair health care package. Getting less money and more in deductibles isn’t our idea of a good deal, no matter what the others think!
To all who attended the Town Hall meeting on March 19th, you know where we want to be at. You know it’s going to take effort from everybody-not just the bargaining team to get the contract we deserve! Stay tuned for further updates.
It is with sympathy that we acknoledge the passing of our sister, Eva Rezmer.
Eva passed away on March 24, 2015 after a three year battle with cancer. Eva joined the Adult Probation Dept. in 2001.
Services have been held. Please keep the Rezmer family in your thoughs and prayers.
The AFSCME Council 31 Town Hall meeting is now scheduled.
Thursday, March 19th at 6pm.
Letter Carriers Hall
3850 South Wabash, Chicago.
Free Parking Available. This meeting is open to all full dues paying members only, no fair share members allowed.
Please contact Jim Dunaway before Tuesday, March 17th at (773) 674-7288 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your attendance. Only members attending should reply.
Well, maybe not the actual day, but the scheduled event has been cancelled.
After meeting with the county on March 5th, and getting some movement towards reaching a settlement, Council 31 has decided to cancel the rally at the County Board Meeting on the 11th. The presidents from each Local met in executive session, and it was proposed to hold a town hall meeting before the next bargaining session.
At this meeting, information will be shared with all who attend, and options will be discussed. Date, time and location for this meeting has not been finalized. We will keep you notified as this develops.
We appreciate your support for committing to attend yet another County Board meeting, and this may return again. As some of you know, the county has once again disrupted our contract bargaining marathon by reaching an agreement with another union for less money than we are proposing, and more in shared health care costs. The pay raise agreed to will be consumed by health care costs over the life of the contract, leaving you with no pay raise over five years.
We will continue to fight for a contract that has fair wages and health care costs, not breaking even or slightly behind in actual money in your pockets! Stay tuned for updates as they become available!
The Bargaining Team
It is with sadness that we inform you that our Sister Pearl Bush has died. Pearl was with our department for almost 14 years, most recently working in our Pretrial Division.
Visitation is today, Friday February 13th from 5:30 to 9pm at Leak & Sons Funeral Home, 7838 South Cottage Grove, Chicago.
Funeral is tomorrow, February 14th at Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, 4100 South Martin Luther King Dr., Chicago.
Lying in state from 10 to 11am. Services to follow.
AFSCME Local 3486 wishes to convey our deepest sympathies to the Bush Family.
(From the Chicago Tribune…)
Cook County jail on lockdown because of staffing shortages
Cook County Jail was ordered into an indefinite lockdown because more than a third of its employees didn’t show up to work over the last 24 hours, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. (Monday)
Movement “aside from court and medical appointments” is being limited.
“Approximately 36 percent of jail staff did not report to work over the last 24 hours,” Sheriff Tom Dart said in a statement released Monday morning.
More than 100 officers were ordered to work overtime to make up for the lack of staff, the statement said. They remained over from last night and this morning’s shifts.
It’s just another sign that Cook County Employees are supposed to report to work in any weather conditions, because we’re Cook County Employees! Apparently there’s no TV or radio in the jail as they would have seen that a blizzard was dumping 19 inches of snow throughout the county! Guess that we’re supposed to be like the post office motto: “Neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night will keep us from our appointed rounds.”
By the way, mail wasn’t delivered in some areas yesterday either.
From the pages of the Chicago Tribune…)
Don’t say we didn’t warn you….
Rauner says state must curb union powers, lower salaries
Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that Illinois must curb government union powers and reduce spending on state employees’ salaries and benefits, stepping up what labor leaders said is an attempt to “vilify” workers ahead of the Republican’s first major policy speech.
In a memo to legislators, Rauner pointed to rules for federal employees as the kind of “common-sense bipartisan reform” he’d like to see in Illinois, and asked lawmakers to review them in advance of his Wednesday State of the State speech. Those rules say employees may collectively bargain over work conditions such as hours and assignments, but not over wages, benefits and pensions. They also say workers can’t be forced to participate in a union and are prohibited from strikes or work slowdowns.
While he said he doesn’t plan to propose salary cuts for government employees, Rauner also repeated claims that state workers are paid more than their peers in the private sector and said lawmakers must “prevent any future imbalances and unfair practices.”
“These levels are unsustainable and unfair to working families, small businesses and other taxpayers in Illinois,” the multimillionaire private equity investor from Winnetka said. “They limit our ability to grow our economy and to fund much needed social services.”
The proposals are likely to face serious opposition in the Legislature, where labor unions have strong alliances with some Republicans as well as the Democrats who control both chambers.
A spokesman for the American Federation of State, County Municipal Employees Council 31, the state’s largest public-employee union, called Rauner’s actions “offensive.” AFSCME’s current contract expires June 30, and the union and Rauner’s administration are set to begin negotiations on a new one. (State contract.)
“It’s bizarre and outrageous for Bruce Rauner to suggest that public employees aren’t ‘working families,’” spokesman Anders Lindall said. “He’s wrong to vilify workers who serve the public, earn middle-class wages and have a right to a voice through their union.”
Some of the proposals Rauner outlined in his memo were similar to those he pushed during his campaign for office last year.
He noted that federal workers in the 1980s moved from a defined benefit retirement plan similar to Illinois’ public-employee pension system to one that combines Social Security and a 401(k)-style plan, in which workers are not promised a specific annuity amount. Rauner has said Illinois should take a similar approach.
And he repeated his argument that it’s a conflict of interest for labor unions to give campaign contributions to candidates, then negotiate contracts with the same officials they helped elect. He’s said that practice should be banned.
Rauner also said during the campaign, however, that collective bargaining was “fine” and could continue.
Supporters of organized labor say they fear Rauner is following in the footsteps of GOP governors in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, where unions have been stripped of some of their influence.
Last month, Rauner also said he wants to give local governments the ability to create so-called “right to work zones,” where paying union dues would be voluntary. He said it would encourage businesses to create more jobs.
We were warned by our Brothers & Sisters in Wisconsin that this man would be nothing but trouble for any union worker, but yet some of us voted for this instead of keeping Governor Quinn in office. It is now imperative that we get large numbers at the County Board Meeting on February 10th, to put pressure on the Board & Madame Prez to get our contract finished NOW!
Make your plans to be there. You’ll need to use your own time (personal or vacation) and the Local will reimburse your parking.