Striking a deal with state workers

Striking a deal with state workers

Illinois is buying labor peace with money it doesn't have.

After months of difficult negotiations, punctuated by occasional political attacks, leaders of a state workers union and Gov. Pat Quinn have reached agreement on a new three-year contract.

The agreement, the details of which have not been formally released, put an end to mostly empty strike talk by frustrated members of the 35,000-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. But it will prompt a new debate about what the state can afford to give and what workers had to give up to reach agreement in the context of effective bankruptcy.

Having nothing to give, it will be interesting to see what the state gave. News reports say the first year of the agreement does not include a pay raise, but the second and third years provide raises of 2 percent each.

The agreement also recognizes the state's obligation to give previously negotiated pay raises of 5.25 percent that Quinn had refused to authorize because of tight finances. Frankly, that's not much of a concession on the governor's part because the state does not have the legal authority to unilaterally violate a contract.

Union members and retirees, however, reportedly will take a hit on health insurance costs, and that will produce cries of outrage from the affected parties.

The cost to the state is unclear. But whatever it costs is too much when you're broke.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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Sid Saltfork wrote on March 03, 2013 at 9:03 am

The News Gazette has hit a new low in it's anti-public service employee propaganda.  The state's employees did not cause the state's financial mess.  It was their pension systems that were not paid into by the employer, the State of Illinois.  It was their pension systems that had their payroll pension deductions "borrowed" from to divert money to pork barrel projects. The News Gazette knows that.  Yet, the News Gazette complains that the state is broke while the state continues it's pork barrel spending.  Look at the grants, new construction, and programs created during the current legislative session.  The News Gazette blames the employees for the employer's wrong doings.

The contract pay raises were 2%.  The health care insurance payment by the employee is much higher with higher co-pays.  The retirees no longer have the guaranteed health care insurance.  They will pay, and have higher co-pays.  Even those on Medicare will pay.  SB1313 is proceeding through the courts even while the retirees pay their contributions for health care.  "Pension reform" to steal the earned benefits of the employees, and retirees is still happening.

What more does the News Gazette want?  Does the News Gazette want the public employees, and retirees to be required to wear armbands in public?  The News Gazette's opinion is always the conservative, corporate, goose stepping response.  Blame the workers is the answer.  Whip up the howling mob.  Divert the attention away from the real villains.  How about the elimination of the tax break for "ink and paper" when it is used for facist propaganda?