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AFSCME ratifies new 4-year contract with the state

AFSCME Building
Provided by Peter Hancock
Capitol News Illinois
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 building is pictured in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker and the state’s largest public employee union announced Tuesday that they have agreed on a new contract that will provide a nearly 18 percent pay raise over four years, including a 4 percent raise this year.

The contract also expands parental leave to 12 weeks and calls for new joint efforts to improve workplace safety.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office said in an email that the contract is projected to cost an additional $204 million in the first year and $625 million over four years.

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which represents about 35,000 state employees, voted in local union meetings over the last two weeks to ratify the contract, which negotiators had tentatively agreed to on July 1.

The announcement came on the same day Pritzker, leaders of the Democratic National Committee, and Chicago labor leaders announced they had reached a “labor peace agreement” covering the 2024 Democratic National Convention to ensure there will be no labor disruptions during that event.

“Illinois is a pro-worker state — and when it comes to workers’ rights, my administration is committed to ensuring that every Illinoisan has access to good-paying opportunities,” Pritzker said in a joint statement with AFSCME Council 31 announcing the state contract. “This contract represents a partnership that won’t just expand our pool of state employees — it will strengthen our state’s workforce and provide opportunity for employees and their families.”

AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said the contract “helps to address the toll that inflation has taken on state employee incomes and keeps health care affordable.”

The joint statement said the agreement contains other provisions intended to streamline the filling of vacancies and to help recruit, hire and retain workers.

That includes new contract language “to reflect the state’s transition to an electronic hiring process,” forming a joint labor-management committee that will meet to identify roadblocks to hiring, establishing a pilot program for recruitment bonuses for positions with high vacancy rates, and ensuring employees who are on parental leave can still bid on vacancies during their leave.

Negotiations over a new contract were taking place at the same time state lawmakers were negotiating a $50.4 billion budget package for fiscal year 2024, which began July 1.

Democrats, who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, said during those negotiations there were enough resources in the budget to pay for the new contract.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Peter Hancock joined the Capitol News Illinois team as a reporter in January 2019. Email: phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com