SPRINGFIELD — Members of the state’s largest employee union are planning protests next week, trying to draw attention to the ongoing contract negotiations between them and Gov. Pat Quinn.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union is helping organize the “Unity Day” actions at state facilities and offices Tuesday through Thursday.
Workers want to call attention to the offers the Quinn administration has made during talks that have been under way for nearly a year. In some instances, the governor reportedly wants to reduce the pay of some employees by $10,000 a year.
He also wants them to pay more for their health insurance.
“The Quinn administration is still demanding big takeaways that would reduce your pay and drastically increase your health insurance costs,” AFSCME Executive Director Henry Bayer said in a telephone message to workers. “We have to make clear to management that we’re not going to accept these various deep cuts.”
Abdon Pallasch, spokesman for the governor’s budget office, said the governor is committed to securing a fair contract at a time when Illinois workers are earning more than their unionized counterparts in comparable states.
“We have made significant efforts to compromise, but the state government employees union continues to seek pay increases, which are not affordable to the taxpayers of Illinois in these difficult economic times,” Pallasch said.
The Unity Day actions are being planned and carried out by each local union and at each work site. As a result, the days, times and specific actions vary. Examples of types of activities being considered include “Green Days,” in which all members wear AFSCME green shirts, wristbands, jackets or hats.
Other protests could come in the form of members marching into a work site together in the morning or picketing work sites over the lunch hour.
The employees have been working under the terms of a contract that expired June 30.