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AFSCME Council 31 union members ink new labor deal with state

Workers will receive $625 stipends for each of the last four years, before getting yearly raises through 2022.

AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch speaks at a July 2018 press conference.
AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch speaks at a July 2018 press conference.
Maria de la Guardia/Sun-Times file photo

Members of the largest union of state government workers have ratified their new contract with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration.

AFSCME Council 31 leaders reached a tentative deal with the state last month, and the union announced Saturday that a majority of those who voted among their nearly 40,000 members had approved the contract “by a big margin,” according to Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch.

The agreement ends more than four years of stalled negotiations and bitter legal fights with former Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“The Rauner era was one of hostility to working people and chaos in state government,” Lynch said in a statement. “AFSCME members got through it by standing together and refusing to be bullied. Now state employees have a fair contract and, in Gov. Pritzker, an employer who respects their voice and values their work.”

The new contract is effective immediately and runs through June 2023. The prior deal expired July 1, 2015, although its terms remained in place.

According to the union, workers will initially receive a stipend of $625 for each of the past four years worked, followed by a 1.5% pay raise in January 2020, a 2.1 % raise in July 2020 and 3.95% raises in January 2021 and January 2022.

Health care costs are up in the new deal, with premiums going up each January by about $13 per month for most employees on individual plans, and about $18 per month for most families.

The deal also expands maternity and paternity leave, protects against excessive forced overtime and creates “a new labor-management body to reduce the threat of violence in the workplace and improve worker safety,” the union says.

Rauner quit 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.

“With this tentative agreement, Illinois has turned another important page from years of brutal ideological warfare,” Pritzker said in a statement after a tentative deal was reached. “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.”