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State News

March 1, 2013

Negotiator: Ill. union deal means back pay, raises

 

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois' largest union and Gov. Pat Quinn's administration reached a tentative contract agreement Thursday, averting the threat of the first strike by state workers in decades of collective bargaining.

The deal means that members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 will get promised 2011 pay increases on which the Democratic governor reneged last year, according to a member of AFSCME's bargaining committee. The member spoke on condition of anonymity because of not being authorized to speak publicly about the deal.

Neither the governor's office nor union officials would publicly disclose details of the three-year agreement. But the bargaining committee member said more than 35,000 union members would get 2 percent salary increases in each of the last two years of the three-year pact after taking a wage freeze in the first year.

In return, workers will pay more of their health insurance costs, said the committee member.

"AFSCME is very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement that protects our members' standard of living, and is fair to them and all Illinois citizens, even in these very challenging economic times," Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer said in a statement.

Spokesman Anders Lindall said AFSCME members, who have been at the table for 15 months, will begin reviewing and discussing the tentative agreement next week. The union has been working without a contract since November, when Quinn took the symbolic but demoralizing step of canceling the pact instead of continuing to extend the deal that expired last June 30.

Lindall said an agreement was reached after midnight Thursday.

"At a time when the state is facing unprecedented financial challenges, this agreement is fair to both hard-working state employees and all taxpayers of Illinois," Quinn said in a statement. His office also would not discuss details.

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