Batinick on scheduling strike vote: AFSCME should accept governor’s terms
Earlier this month, AFSCME leaders sent a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner outlining a new settlement “framework” in which the union said it would be willing 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 the increases, which works out be approximately 40 percent of its members.
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 increase 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.”
The Sangamon Sun asked state Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) for his take on the issue:
Q: What are your thoughts on AFSCME scheduling a strike vote?
A: That’s certainly unfortunate. The governor has actually agreed to terms with, I think, 19 different unions throughout the state now that are very similar to the last best offer that he offered AFSCME, that’s number one.
Number two: There’s a process for this. The (Illinois State Labor Relations Board) has determined that we’ve reached an impasse -- and the governor should be able to institute his last best offer and, Iike I said, that last best offer … a very similar structure was with 19 other unions.
I’m not sure why AFSCME thinks they are special, we have a crisis going on in the state. I think everybody needs to recognize that and everybody’s going to have to chip in a little bit. The other unions have recognized that and AFSCME hasn’t, at least their leadership hasn’t.
Q: Do you find this most recent strike threat concerning? Why or why not?
A: (All the strike threats) have concerned me. I’m not sure if this one concerns me more or not. I think that what concerns me about this is that labor relations board has ruled that we are at an impasse so now they either have to accept the offer or strike. So there really isn’t any other option.
Q: How should the Governor respond if AFSCME follows through with a strike?
A: That’s probably a question best served to Gov. Rauner, but I think he needs to hold firm with his last best offer and run the state as best he can … there’s a lot of people hurting out there and everybody is going to have to give a little bit. With all the other unions agreeing, I’m surprised that AFSCME hasn’t agreed to a contract with the governor.
Q: How would you like to see the stalled contract negotiations between Rauner and AFSCME resolved?
A: I just hope that AFSCME accepts the last best offer that the governor put out there, and everybody can move on to some of the other important issues that we’re dealing with at the State.