Illinois’ public union members made it clear at a rally at the Capitol Wednesday what they want: A new contract and a tax increase to pay for it.
Illinois’ largest public employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, hosted the rally. It was designed to pressure lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner into supporting AFSCME’s demands.
Jennifer Keith, a state government worker in Springfield, said the union isn’t asking for much.
“What needs to happen is, a budget needs to be passed and the equal proportion of expenses needs to be passed along to businesses and the wealthy.”
Many of the union members say they simply want to keep negotiating a new contract with Rauner. Their rally came a day after the governor vetoed a union-backed plan to take negotiating power away from the governor and let a panel of arbitrators decide contract terms instead.
Prison guard Gary Welch said there has to be room to compromise. “Some of the governor’s Turnaround Agenda is not completely out of whack,” Welch said. The agenda items “do need to be discussed, but they can’t be coupled with the budget.”
Rauner has said AFSCME’s demands – including four-year pay increases of 11.5 to 29 percent, platinum-level health care at little to no cost to union members, and a workweek that includes overtime for workers after 37.5 hours – would cost the state more than $3 billion.