admin on March 22nd, 2017

Don’t forget the lunch time meeting at Walnut from 11 to noon on the 3rd floor!

admin on March 20th, 2017

(From the Chicago Tribune…)

Rauner asks state Supreme Court to get involved in fight with union

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner tried to jump-start a stalled labor dispute Friday, asking the Illinois Supreme Court to allow him to impose his preferred contract terms on the state’s largest public worker union.

Earlier this month, the 4th District Appellate Court in central Illinois prevented Rauner from trying to implement his last, best and final contract offer until after the court has decided an appeal by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

Rauner on Friday asked the state’s highest court to bypass the usual appeal process and take the case on now. In a filing to the Supreme Court, the governor’s lawyers argued that the delay caused by the appeal was costing the state money. They warned that a prolonged legal battle could prevent the Rauner administration from setting up a new health insurance system for state employees — a plan designed to reap savings for the state by passing a greater share of the costs of health insurance onto workers.

Briefs in the appeal in the case aren’t due until June, Rauner’s attorneys said, meaning the case is likely to drag beyond the state’s May 1 deadline to open an enrollment period for state workers’ health insurance.

The union had challenged a ruling by the Illinois Labor Relations Board that found Rauner and the union to be at impasse in their contract talks. That stage in negotiations would allow the governor to press forward with his preferred terms and put the union in the position of having to accept them or go on strike. AFSCME appealed to the court, which temporarily halted implementation of Rauner’s contract. The temporary stop became a permanent one in early March.

Meanwhile, AFSCME announced in February that its members had voted overwhelmingly in favor of going on strike if necessary to resist Rauner’s contract terms. The vote was intended to give the union greater leverage in its battle with Rauner.

Rauner’s lawyers, in their filing to the Supreme Court, alluded to the possibility of a strike as they argued that both sides should be free to use the tools at their disposal to resolve the dispute. Having the issue tied up in court causes a costly delay, they wrote.

“Continuing the current situation in which the parties are precluded from exercising their economic weapons for multiple months while the appeal remains in the Fourth District and then appealed to the Supreme Court is simply not tenable and will only further harm the public,” the filing reads.

The administration asked the high court to lift the stay preventing Rauner from installing his contract terms — particularly the health insurance portion.

“After 67 days of negotiation, the Administration presented AFSCME with a contract that reflects our last, best, and final offer,” Rauner General Counsel Dennis Murashko said in a statement announcing the administration’s request. “This is as far as we can go, and it is time to implement it. Every day we don’t costs our taxpayers more than $2 million, which is why we are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to resolve this case quickly.”

AFSCME Spokesman Anders Lindall argues that the appeals court has already signaled that there was a likelihood the union would prevail in its legal challenge of the impasse ruling.

“Instead of wasting more time and money in the courts, Governor Rauner should simply do his job and negotiate with our union,” Lindall said. “State workers are willing to do their part, but Bruce Rauner is so blinded by his anti-union animosity that he refuses to compromise.”

Hasn’t he learned that the Supreme Court will not be bullied? He’s already lost once before them on pensions, and now he wants to question bargaining in good faith?

Don’t forget the Rally at the Chicago Hilton on Thursday, March 30th!

admin on March 16th, 2017

Union Sisters and Brothers;

There are several things that should be brought to your attention as members of this Local:

1. The Local has been made aware that management may be altering/falsifying members’ time records to avoid any overtime/compensatory time claim by members. According to the media, management can afford to pay one of their own hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensatory time, but they squeal in denial regarding the approval of any compensatory time for members who are actually doing Department work. Members have been working through their lunch break, are being directed to cover the courts until they go down, but they balk at providing even 1 hour of compensatory time if members need to stay past the end of their shift to complete their work. The Local has forwarded the class action grievance regarding Hours of Work/Field Work in relation to the time clocks to arbitration. One of management’s responses in the grievance was that officers could still return radios the next day, but they still have to come in and clock out at the end of their shift. Other Departments have the use of the County provided 800 number to allow employees to call out at the end of their shift when they are in the field; this is also available to the Adult Probation Department, but why would they want to utilize something to benefit the member and comply with the contract? Also, management was completely disingenuous with regard to compensating employees for the additional 1/2 hour when members were forced to clock out after 4 hours, instead of after 3.5 hours as was decided in a grievance settlement. “Everyone affected has received their comp time.” Completely false!

2. There are more grievances pending with this administration than any other in the past 28 years. This administration has fostered an anti-union animus through their harassing, retaliatory and bullying tactics toward union officials and representatives. They turned a blind eye when Local officials were targeted with threatening and hostile communication. They refused to provide the Local with a secure space to confidentially speak to members, maintain a confidential fax line or conduct any union business. Management has cultivated an environment of turning members against each other because if they weaken the solidarity among the members, then the stronger they will be in the upcoming bargaining. When the union argued how management had misled and falsified and discriminated against a senior employee with no history of discipline, who is caring for a very sick loved one, management’s response was, “It’s all irrelevant!”

3. There is a Lunch Time Membership Meeting for Weapons Carrying Officers at the Walnut facility on Thursday, March 23, 2017, from 11 am to 12 pm, in the large conference room on the 3rd floor. The Local will be scheduling worksite meetings as we prepare for upcoming job actions and negotiations.

4. There is a union job action on Thursday, March 30th, at the Chicago Hilton, 720 South Michigan, from 5pm to 8pm to support state workers in their fight for a contract. We want to have a strong showing of support because their fight is our fight!

5. We are STILL waiting for the Employer to complete the printing of our current contract. Perhaps we will get the contracts prior to their expiration on November 30, 2017.

6. Don’t forget about the Local website and Facebook page for more information – afscme3486.org; our email address is afscme3486@aol.com

In Solidarity,

Jim Dunaway
Local Union President
AFSCME #3486

admin on March 12th, 2017

(From the Chicago Sun-Times…)

Rauner signs bill to rehabilitate prisoners, expand probation

A wider range of crimes will be eligible for probation, rather than prison terms, and “trauma centers” might be built within state prisons under legislation that Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Friday.

“This will help keep our community safer, help victims of crime recover, and help those who committed a crime get the rehabilitation they need,” Rauner said during a morning news conference in downtown Chicago. “Prison should not just be about punishment [and] locking people away. It needs to be about preventing the individual offender from committing crimes again.”

The changes sparked by the new law include:

• Making some crimes eligible for probationary sentences rather than prison time. Previously, crimes including marijuana trafficking, cocaine possession and other drug-related offenses required prison terms. Now, judges will have the discretion to put offenders on probation for those crimes, thereby keeping them out of the prison system.

• Establishing rehabilitation centers within state prisons that aim to prevent recidivism once inmates are released. There are currently no so-called “trauma recovery centers” in Illinois prisons, though there is federal funding available for them.

• Allowing some prison inmates to get additional time off their sentences — unless they are incarcerated under a “truth-in-sentencing” offense, such as murder. Currently, incarcerated individuals not subject to truth in sentencing receive one day of credit toward their sentences for each day served. The new law expands programs that offer additional days off for “good conduct” if inmates meet certain criteria after undergoing a “risk/needs assessment.”

Maybe if the Gov sat down and negotiated a budget that would fund all the outside agencies that we rely on for services, then this could be good news. Now it means even more plea deals with fewer services to offer. Are we the only county in the State that already gets these cases anyway? Everyone else needs an executive order?

admin on March 8th, 2017

(From Council 31…)

Pension-cutting bill still looms

Senate Bill 16, which would cut the pension benefits of employees in SERS and SURS, failed on the Senate floor on February 28 by a vote of 26-27-2 and was put on postponed consideration. It is likely to be considered again.

SB 16 is a new version of the previous SB 11. It would require employees who participate in the State Employees Retirement System and State University Retirement System to select between two options:

  • Option 1:  All pay increases going forward do not count in calculating your pension benefit. For purposes of determining your pension, your salary would never be any greater than it is today; however, your pension in retirement would be adjusted to keep up with inflation (COLA).
  • Option 2: Your future pay increases would count in calculating your pension benefit; however, your COLA would be cut so your pension would not keep up with inflation in your retirement years.

Regardless of the option employees choose, they would receive a much smaller pension benefit during the course of their retirement compared to benefit they were promised.

TAKE ACTION: CALL YOUR SENATOR!

Call the AFSCME hotline at 888-912-5959 and urge your senator to protect public employee pensions!

IF this goes through, the powers that are here in Cook County and Chicago will try it too!

admin on March 8th, 2017

(From the Chicago Tribune…)

After Tribune reveals probation official’s $200K in comp time, Cook County courts vow action

Cook County’s chief judge has launched a broad review of the adult probation department’s compensation practices after a Tribune investigation found that one of its top leaders had compiled more than $200,000 in compensatory time.

Philippe Loizon, a deputy chief in the Cook County Adult Probation Department, accrued at least 3,674 hours of comp time from 2003 into 2015, the Tribune found.

Now, Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who oversees the court system’s probation department, has started a review of Loizon’s compensation as well as that of other senior managers in the department, “given the high number” of hours Loizon accumulated, Evans’ spokesman, Pat Milhizer, wrote in an email. The review will also look at what Evans’ office and others knew about the matter, Milhizer wrote.

In addition, the probation department is changing its personnel policies to forbid exempt employees, who include members of the executive staff, from accruing comp time — bringing the department more in line with the policies of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Sheriff Tom Dart and Court Clerk Dorothy Brown.

Evans’ office was first made aware of Loizon’s accumulation of significant hours of compensatory time in 2013, according to internal correspondence, yet apparently did little about it.

Loizon has been a controversial figure in the probation department. In 2014, he was taken off the streets and ordered onto desk duty by Evans following a Tribune investigation that found rogue probation officers had allegedly planted drugs, stolen money and improperly teamed up with Chicago police and FBI agents to conduct warrantless searches.

Evans hired a Chicago law firm to look into what the Tribune uncovered in 2014. He has not said what, if anything, was found.

Loizon, 52, remained on the probation department’s payroll. In August, he went on medical leave and has begun using his comp time, according to county payroll records.

Even with his reassignment, Loizon retained the title of deputy chief — one of the most senior managers in a department with hundreds of employees — and makes more than $115,000 a year. He declined to comment for this article.

Loizon joined the probation department in November 1988 and rose through the ranks, earning a reputation as a tireless worker. The department and its officers work for the court system and monitor about 25,000 convicts sentenced to probation instead of prison. Probation officers’ role, which separates them from police officers, involves helping a convict get drug treatment, a high school diploma and a job.

In June 2003, Loizon was promoted to deputy chief, one of 11 currently in the department. He oversaw several of the department’s armed-officer units, including the Gang Intervention Unit, which monitors high-risk gang members who are serving a sentence of probation.

He soon began accumulating comp time.

Under the probation department’s long-standing policy, exempt employees like Loizon and other senior managers may receive one hour of comp time for each hour of overtime worked. The policy does not limit the number of hours an employee may collect but states that the hours must be used within 60 days unless waived by a supervisor.

From 2004 to June 2015, Loizon was automatically credited every week with four hours of comp time for monitoring a “cellphone dedicated to calls to and from the Chicago Police Department,” Evans spokesman Milhizer said. “He was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Milhizer said the department’s Gang Intervention Unit shares information with city police about gang members on probation.

“The weekly estimation of four hours acknowledged that there might be more or less than four hours of work, and it compensates the employee for the uncertainty of when work will arise and disrupt life outside of the workplace in addition to time actually worked,” Milhizer said.

Loizon accrued at least 2,080 hours of comp time for answering the phone, or one year’s pay.

Deputy Chief Loizon accumulated additional comp time — some 1,594 hours — for working beyond his 40-hour work weeks, Milhizer said.

Evans’ office learned about Loizon’s significant accumulation of comp time hours in 2013. That’s when Loizon hired Chicago lawyer Jerome Marconi to help resolve issues over his pay.

In a July 11, 2013, letter to Jesus Reyes, then acting chief probation officer, Marconi wrote that Loizon had documents showing he earned comp time hours and wanted a meeting to discuss the matter. Marconi sent a copy of the letter to Evans’ director of human resources.

“I am requesting your assistance in resolving DC Loizon’s compensation issues,” Marconi wrote, referring to Loizon’s title of deputy chief. “DC Loizon desires to resolve these issues internally before filing any official complaints against the County.”

Reyes wrote a memo to Evans’ office dated July 25, 2013, and said he agreed that Loizon should be reimbursed for the hours worked. He attached Loizon’s time sheets for 2012 and 2013, noting that Lavone Haywood, then Loizon’s immediate supervisor, had not disputed that Loizon worked those hours.

Haywood, whom Evans promoted to lead the department in March 2014, had long been one of Loizon’s supervisors and had signed and approved his time sheets, according to records. Haywood did not return messages seeking comment.

Marconi, in an interview, said he did not believe the matter was ever resolved. “It just kind of died,” he said.

Asked what the chief judge’s office knew in 2013 and what it did about it, Milhizer responded that the office is “reviewing the history of this matter.”

It wasn’t until June 2015 that Haywood ended Loizon’s after-hours gang phone responsibilities. Now, calls between Chicago police and the department are handled by on-duty staff.

Milhizer said the chief judge’s office was trying to determine if Loizon was given a 60-day waiver for using his comp time.

The review should be completed in April, Milhizer said. He said the probation department plans to revamp its comp time policy this month.

“The new policy would prohibit the accrual of compensatory time for exempt employees — executive employees, administrative employees and managerial employees,” Milhizer said. “It would also, in most instances, require employees to use compensatory time within one year of accrual.”

Milhizer said exempt employees rarely should be allowed to accrue comp time because they are paid better than rank-and-file workers.

“It is not appropriate — both fiscally and operationally — to allow them to accrue comp time,” Milhizer said. “Their salaries should compensate them for additionally worked hours.”

Good Morning Chief Judge Evans!

 

(From the Chicago Tribune…)

Rauner barred from immediately imposing contract terms on public union

n Illinois appellate court has temporarily barred Gov. Bruce Rauner from imposing his contract terms on the state’s largest public employee union.

The 4th District Court of Appeals sided with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 on Friday. The court issued an order prohibiting immediate action by the Republican governor.

Talks have been unsuccessful for two years. A labor regulator labeled them at “impasse.” That means Rauner may impose his terms and if ASFSCME objects, it can go on strike.

AFSCME is challenging the impasse ruling. The court issued a bar on any administration plans to implement its terms until the legality of the impasse decision is decided.

Rauner lawyer Dennis Murashko says delaying the administration’s “commonsense” offer costs taxpayers $2 million a day.

Maybe if the Gov came to the table willing to ‘listen’ and reach a deal, his lawyer could stop worrying about $2 million daily?

(From the Chicago Tribune…)

Union authorizes strike, Rauner doesn’t budge

The largest state employee union on Thursday made its latest move in a years-long chess match against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, announcing its members had taken the unprecedented step of authorizing a strike.

That doesn’t mean state workers will walk off the job — union leaders made a point to say they first want to exhaust “every possible recourse.” Instead, the labor group hopes to use the leverage of having a favorable strike vote in their pocket to bring Rauner back to the bargaining table to restart negotiations over a contract to replace one that expired in July 2015.

“Let’s be clear, we have come to this juncture today for just one reason only: the refusal of Gov. Rauner to negotiate with our union,” said Roberta Lynch, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.”We are willing, more than willing to work to find common ground. But we won’t just roll over.”

Soon after the union announced its new authority at a hall across the street from the Capitol, Rauner didn’t budge. Talks remain at an impasse, the governor said, and he should get to enforce his contract terms.

“I really believe the right answer is to not have a strike,” Rauner said. “The right answer is to implement, together in cooperative basis, the contract — our last, best and final offer.”

The dispute is tied up in court, and union leaders said they have to give the governor’s office a notice of five working days if they opt to strike.

Roughly 28,000 of the union’s 38,000 members were eligible to take part in the three-week vote. Exempted from voting were corrections and juvenile justice workers who are not allowed to strike. Lynch said about 80 percent of those eligible to vote did so, with 81 percent voting in favor.

The governor and the union have been battling each other since before Rauner took office. As a candidate, Rauner railed against organized labor — especially the union he sometimes referred to as “Af-scammy” — and once suggested he would be willing to shut down the government and fire public workers if necessary to achieve his objectives. In one of his first acts as governor, Rauner tried unsuccessfully to cripple AFSCME financially by preventing public sector unions from collecting fees from non-members.

Talks between AFSCME and the governor’s team stalled more than a year ago when Rauner declared an impasse in the contract negotiations — a technical stage that would allow the state to attempt to impose its last, best and final offer. The union objected, saying there was still room to negotiate, but a state labor panel later sided with Rauner. The governor then moved to put in place his preferred contract terms.

AFSCME and Rauner disagree over a number of provisions, including changes Rauner sought to health insurance for state workers, overtime rules and limits on privatization. The union contends that the changes would cost the average state worker $10,000. Rauner argues that the changes are needed to streamline government and bring it more in line with private-sector practices.

AFSCME went to an appellate court to challenge the labor panel’s impasse ruling, and secured a temporary order halting the implementation of Rauner’s terms. The appellate court has yet to announce a timeline for when it will take up the union’s case. AFSCME has requested a more permanent stay to prevent the administration from moving forward on the contract while the case plays out, though the court has not yet weighed in on that matter either.

Meanwhile, Rauner’s office contends a walkout would violate the terms of a temporary agreement reached during the protracted negotiations. That means the Rauner administration could bring its own legal challenge in an effort to prevent a work stoppage.

Next up, the union will convene its bargaining committee next week to discuss the results of the strike authorization vote. Lynch said the group will have to weigh a number of factors, including pending litigation. It’s unclear whether the union would wait until legal questions are resolved before workers would walk off the job, and Lynch said the court cases could take months or even years.

“We are not prepared at this point to say that we’ve exhausted every possible recourse,” Lynch said. “We are obviously going to pursue any legal remedy that we can, and we are going to continue to, I have to say, and I know it may sound utopian or quixotic on my part, but we are going to continue to think that at some point this governor will realize that conflict, confrontation is not the way to move our state forward.”

Upon learning that has been blocked from implementing his terms, the governor told the major news networks that he is looking for volunteers to step in any and all vacant positions if AFSCME goes out on strike.

This is only going to get uglier as the battle wages on. Where we come in will be determined later.

admin on February 15th, 2017

Sorry for the delay.

We had an issue with our website, which needed to be restructured before coming back online. We’re now ‘bug free’ and ready to roll!

Watch for news as you always have @www.afscme3486.org.

admin on April 12th, 2016

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