Pritchard on AFSCME scheduling a strike vote: 'Time for a truly neutral mediator to step in'
Earlier this month, AFSCME leaders sent a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner outlining a settlement “framework” in which the union said it would be willing to resume negotiations on a new contract.
Under the new framework, AFSCME would agree to a four-year freeze in base salary increases, but continue step increases for members who qualify for them, which works out be approximately 40 percent of its membership.
In addition, AFSCME said that although it would compromise by having its members pay more in health care costs, it would not agree to the 100 percent increases Rauner’s administration is seeking, the State Journal-Register reported.
When Rauner’s office called the move “superficial,” AFSCME leaders proceeded to send a letter to union members on Jan. 13 announcing that it will be holding a vote to authorize a strike between Jan. 30 and Feb. 19.
The letter was posted on CapitolFax.com and read, in part:
“Unfortunately, we quickly learned just how insincere the governor’s professed belief in ‘compromise’ really is. Within hours of receiving the union’s letter regarding the new framework, the governor’s office put out a press statement completely dismissing the new terms as ‘superficial’ and — as is their usual pattern — wildly exaggerating the potential cost to the state. This kind of blatant misrepresentation of the facts is a clear indication that the governor has not a rational or ethical leg to stand on in the war he is waging on his own employees.”
We asked Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Sycamore) for his take on the issue:
Q: What are your thoughts on AFSCME scheduling a strike vote?
A: That is their right under collective bargaining.
Q: Do you find this most recent strike threat concerning? Why or why not?
A: Yes, I always hope for sincere negotiations that lead to compromise. This is the same process for the current budget negotiations. Both sides need to have, as a goal, a fair conclusion with give and take.
Q: How should the governor respond if AFSCME follows through with a strike?
A: Try to continue providing services to the citizens of Illinois as best possible. No one wins in a strike. I hope the governor and union will reopen conversations.
Q: How would you like to see the stalled contract negotiations between Rauner and AFSCME resolved?
A: Both sides understand the current state fiscal situation and requests of the other party. Both have a responsibility to serve the citizens of Illinois and should be willing to reach a contract the state can afford. There is a lack of trust for the other party on each side, so perhaps it is time for a truly neutral mediator to step in.
Organizations in this Story
One Copley Plaza
Springfield, IL - 62701