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State, AFSCME reach tentative deal on new contract

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says agreement ends Rauner era of ‘ideological warfare.’

Robb Craddock, chief negotiator for the state of Illinois, and Roberta Lynch, executive director of AFSCME Council 31, shake hands over a tentative contract agreement Friday.
Robb Craddock, chief negotiator for the state of Illinois, and Roberta Lynch, executive director of AFSCME Council 31, shake hands over a tentative contract agreement Friday.
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Gov. J.B. Pritzker and AFSCME Council 31 said Friday they have reached a tentative agreement for a new contract covering some 40,000 state employees.

The agreement, subject to ratification by union members, would end more than four years of talks and acrimonious legal fights under former Gov. Bruce Rauner, who lost his reelection bid. Terms were not announced pending ratification meetings expected to occur at work sites over the next several days.

“With this tentative agreement, Illinois has turned another important page from years of brutal ideological warfare,” Pritzker said in a news release. “Instead, this agreement respects the valuable contributions our workers make to the state and treats all our taxpayers fairly, thanks to months of negotiations that were constructive and frank.”

He said the agreement will be reflected in the new state budget due for a vote in the General Assembly and is “consistent with my long-term plans to stabilize Illinois’ finances.”

AFSCME is the largest union of state employees.

“This agreement reflects a fresh start for public service workers in state government,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “For four years, union members did their jobs and served their communities despite Bruce Rauner’s chaos, hostility and constant attacks.

“In the Pritzker administration, AFSCME members have an employer who understands the importance of their work, respects their rights and is a constructive partner in the collective bargaining process.”

The prior contract expired July 1, 2015, although its terms remained in place.

Rauner quit the talks in January 2016 and sought to impose his own terms with the legal declaration of an impasse in bargaining. He was thwarted by an Illinois Appellate Court ruling that ordered the state Labor Relations Board to revisit its decision that backed Rauner on the impasse.