Unionized state workers begin voting to authorize strike
With contract negotiations stalled between AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) Council 31, Illinois’ largest public employee union, and Gov. Rauner’s administration, members of AFSCME began voting this week to authorize a strike. The vote will continue through Feb. 19.
If members vote to strike, it doesn’t necessarily mean the union will go on strike. It does, however, give AFSCME’s bargaining committee the ability to call a strike in the future. The strike vote comes on the heels of the Illinois Labor Relations Board in November declaring the two year old talks between the union and the administration are at impasse. That ruling allowed the administration to implement its last and best offer and allowed the union to vote on walking off the job. Gov. Rauner hasn’t been able to fully implement his offer yet, as in December, a St. Clair County judge issued a temporary restraining order on the administration from imposing its terms.
AFSCME Council 31 has never gone on strike. While the union represents 38,000 employees, 8,000 of those employees are not allowed to participate in the strike vote or strike at all due the nature of their job in areas such as Corrections and Juvenile Justice.