Illinois workers vote to ratify new bargaining agreement

State workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 have voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement.

The contract covers some 35,000 employees, including child protection workers, nurse aides, correctional officers, police dispatchers, environmental technicians, and many others who provide vital services to Illinois residents.

The tentative agreement between AFSCME and the State of Illinois was reached on Feb. 28 and submitted to union members for approval by secret-ballot vote at locations across the state over the past three weeks.

The agreement was reached after more than 15 months of often-contentious negotiations with the administration of Governor Pat Quinn.

"This new contract takes into account the state's fiscal challenges, while also recognizing the vitally important work state employees do," said AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer.

"AFSCME members are on the front lines every day," Bayer added. "They care for the elderly and people with disabilities, protect public safety, maintain state parks, respond to emergencies and more. They often work without sufficient staff or resources, going the extra mile to provide services that residents rely on, and they deserve to be treated fairly."

Employees will receive a general wage increase that averages 1.3 percent per year over the contract's three-year term. Those eligible for step increases will receive them as scheduled, while workers with more than 10 years' seniority will receive a $25 per month increase in longevity pay.

At the same time, union members agreed to higher health care premiums, co-pays and deductibles, changes that will save the state some $900 million in the aggregate over the life of the agreement.

"While this contract doesn't fully keep pace with the rising cost of living, it will help employees meet those costs," Bayer said. "At the same time, it will help the state to address its economic challenges."

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