Union Arbitrator's ruling against governor doesn't stop layoffs - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Union Arbitrator's ruling against governor doesn't stop layoffs

Jobs like the ones at this Chester prison are in jeopardy. Jobs like the ones at this Chester prison are in jeopardy.
AFSCME Local 424 president Matt Grau AFSCME Local 424 president Matt Grau
St. Mary's Catholic School in Chester St. Mary's Catholic School in Chester
CHESTER, IL (KFVS) -

An arbitrator has ruled governor pat Quinn's proposal to close seven state facilities and lay off thousands of union workers is in violation of the contract he signed with the AFSCME union, but union officials say those jobs aren't safe yet.

"We're by no means out of the woods yet, we would hope the governor and elected officials would side with arbitrators ruling, but we believe he's probably going to appeal the decision and go through with the layoffs," said AFSCME Local 424 president Matt Grau.

AFSCME union officials say the arbitrator's ruling is just one victory in what they're viewing as a long war against Governor Quinn's proposal to close seven state facilities.

That's why the union hall copier is working overtime. Grau's been Xeroxing information to pass out to Chester businesses to get community members to pack a public hearing to prevent Chester Mental Health Center's doors from closing.

"It'll have a dramatic effect on the community," Grau said. "There are several businesses that rely on employees out there to come out and spend their wages."

Among them: Roziers Country Market. Chester Mental Health Center employees flock here during the lunch hour for a hot meal and do their shopping after work.

"We know a lot of them personally," said Welker. A lot of them come in 3 -4 times a week. We also deliver out there some times, and they get some items for their commissary here,

At St. Mary's Catholic School in Chester, kids, teachers, administrators and parents are literally praying Chester Mental Health Center stays open.

"Every family is important and enrollment is always an issue, so if we would lose one family, that would have an impact on our school," said Principal Janelle Robinson.

It's not just one family at stake if Chester Mental Health Center closes, laying off 480 people. Robinson says there are at least 15 families with kids in the school in which one or both parents work at the facility.

"It would be a devastating blow to not only our school, but our community," said Robinson.

AFSCME members are getting the word out about two public hearings coming up to keep state facilities in southern Illinois open.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) will be at the Davis McCann Center October 12 at 10 a.m. to discuss the closure of the Illinois Youth Center at Murphysboro.

At 4:00 p.m. CGFA will be at Chester High School to give the community a chance to sound off to keep Chester Mental Health Center open.

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