Organized Labor | WGLT

Organized Labor

Teachers posed together
Blue Ridge Federation Community Support / Facebook

Blue Ridge teachers Union President Don Anton said Tuesday he believes a tentative three-year contract agreement with the district is a good deal for members.

We're Hiring paper form
Lynne Sladky / AP

Unemployment in Bloomington-Normal held steady at 3.6 percent last month compared to September 2017.

Unit 5 district offices
Staff / WGLT

Starting teachers in the Unit 5 school district will do a little better next year under a new contract approved by the school board.

:  Faculty Association Lead Sean Colcleasure and Board Chair Gregg Chadwick sign the new 3-year agreement.
Heartland Community College

Heartland Community College and its faculty union have agreed on a three-year contract.

Carleigh Gray / WGLT

Organizers of a union that would represent Illinois State University graduate students have crossed a threshold.

Carleigh Gray / WGLT

Some unionized workers who felt left behind by economic changes voted for Donald Trump. In Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner just vetoed a minimum wage law. Despite that, the head of the Bloomington-Normal Trades and Labor Assembly says the state of labor is better than some might think.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The McLean County Board has signed off on a labor agreement with jail guards.

It's a two-year contract that expires at the end of this year. County Administrator Bill Wasson said they will head right back into negotiations.

Staff / WGLT

The union representing Metcom workers in McLean County is heading back to the bargaining table with the county right after approval of the latest contract.

That's because the 23 members of the bargaining unit have been working on an expired agreement for more than a year.

Members of AFSCME, the biggest labor union representing Illinois state workers, have taken a big step toward a possible strike.

AFSCME has been fighting with Gov. Bruce Rauner over its contract for more than two years.

And the strike authorization vote comes more than a year after Rauner broke off negotiations, saying they were at impasse.

Forest and Kim Star / Flickr

Many couples celebrated Valentine's Day with gifts of chocolate. But, the sweet has a sometimes bitter and complex history.

Illinois State University Anthropologist Katie Sampeck looks at the genesis of taste and how chocolate came to be.

Ralph Weisheit

A teacher’s union leader in central Illinois is concerned about charter schools and school vouchers. It is likely the U.S. Senate will vote this week on voucher proponent Betsy Devos as Education Secretary.

Unit Five Education Association President Karl Goeke said taking taxpayer money and making it available to private schools on a per student basis, hurts public schools.

Staff / WGLT

Union organizers from Chicago descended on the Illinois State University campus Friday, seeking help from students in spreading the word about what it considers global exploitation of workers in Mexico and the moving of union jobs from a Nabisco plant in Chicago.

A man and woman marching in parade holding a banner for Democratic Party
Courtesy of McLean County Democrats Facebook page

Leaders in the McLean County Democratic Party are gathering tonight for what they’re calling a re-organization meeting and they're putting out an open call for anyone interested.  They hope to capitalize on the anger and interest so many people have following Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential election.


Bloomington labor leader John Penn has been elected to another term as a Vice President of the Laborers International Union of North America.

Penn became one of 14 Vice Presidents of the Union in 2008 and has now been elected to his second five year term.

Unit Five Schools

After contract negotiations stretching over seven months, Unit Five teachers and the District administration have apparently reached agreement on a new labor agreement.

The final negotiating session lasted more than seven hours stretched into the early morning hours according to the UFEA web site.

K. Kendall / Flickr

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) don't want to strike, says spokesman Anders Lindall. But the union is laying the groundwork, just in case.

"We've got nearly 80 local unions of state employees and so they are having their conversations with their members, on the ground, where they live and work, to give them all the information and answer all their questions," said Lindall.

K. Kendall / Flickr

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration says it wants to bypass a legal recommendation in order to expedite the resolution of its case on whether negotiations have stalled between the state and the largest state worker's union.  

Rauner's administration says a quick resolution will help Illinois save $35 million to $40 million per month in higher health insurance costs for workers.  


Many businesses are figuring out how much new federal rules on overtime pay will cost them starting in December. The effect on Illinois State University could be in the two million dollar range.

Jerry Harcharik

An estimated eight thousand union members flooded streets in front of the Illinois Statehouse to protest Governor Bruce Rauner's agenda.

ADM Workers Vote Down Union

Mar 24, 2016
Dan / Facebook via Creative Commons

Maintenance workers at Archer Daniels Midland Co.' BioProducts plant in Decatur have voted against joining the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.

Pexels / Facebook via Creative Commons

It’s been 10 months since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s last attempt at a pension overhaul. Legislators have yet to decide what to do about Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension debt … but they are beginning to weigh their options. One set of proposals would let employees collect their pension as a single payment when they retire. Brian Mackey has more.

Rochelle Hartman / Flickr

Democrats in the Illinois legislature approved legislation Thursday to require arbitration for union contract disputes.

The state's biggest public employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, supports changing the process. Contract negotiations between AFSCME and Governor Bruce Rauner's office have stalled. Democratic Senator Don Harmon of Oak Park, says the legislation would help both sides get a deal done. 

Illinois House Committee Aims For Union Compromise

Feb 11, 2016
John / Flickr

Illinois lawmakers are once again considering an intervention in state labor negotiations. Contract talks have stalled between Illinois' biggest government labor union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Governor Bruce Rauner.

Rauner wants the state Labor Relations Board to decide whether negotiations are at an impasse; the union says that’s premature. Under legislation approved by a House committee Thursday, such failed negotiations would be resolved by an arbitrator on whom both sides agree.

Union, Governor See Negotiations Differently

Jan 15, 2016
Jim Browne / WGLT

The rift between Governor Bruce Rauner and the state's public employee union has escalated. Rauner Friday morning announced he's asking the state labor board to decide if negotiations with AFSCME have reached an impasse. Just days ago, Rauner -- a Republican -- said his bargaining team is spinning its wheels. After many months and 67 sessions, he claims:

Supreme Court Could Determine Labor's Future

Jan 15, 2016

An Illinois State University labor expert says a case before the US Supreme Court over union dues paid by non-union employees would not directly affect private sector unions. The case is being pursued by some California teachers who say they shouldn't be force to pony up dues when the disagree with the union. ISU's Victor Devinatz says it has nothing to do with union politics.

More than 30-thousand state employees are members of AFSCME, Illinois' largest public employee union. The union says Governor Bruce Rauner has walked away from contract talks.

It was clear early on that Rauner, a Republican, was no fan of AFSCME. He once bestowed a nickname upon the union:

"the children in poverty. I'd rather have my tax dollars going to that, than SEIU or AFSCammy, who are out there for their own interests."

The state budget standoff has scared away at least one hot prospect to buy the Mitsubishi auto plant in Normal. That's according to State Senator Jason Barickman. Barickman says the serious lead was a large Illinois manufacturer looking to expand. But, The GOP Senator says Illinois does not have a state budget, does not know when a budget might happen, and has no idea what the tax rate will be.

"That lack of predictability, the lack of stability that's offered to the business community is, I think, in sum, very detrimental to our efforts to attract a new Mitsubishi buyer."

Chicago Teachers Authorize Strike

Dec 14, 2015

Chicago Teachers Union members overwhelmingly have voted to authorize their leaders to call a strike, although a final decision on a walkout would be months away. The union says 88% of eligible members who voted marked yes to authorize leaders to call a strike. State law says 75 percent of membership must approve strike authorization. Union officials say March is likely the earliest teachers could walk off the job.  

Supporters Cheer On Mitsubishi Workers

Nov 24, 2015
Mike Matejka

As the sun sets on production at the Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing in Normal, supporters of the workers gathered to demonstrate their gratitude in a community recognition event. Jeff Woodard of the McLean County Museum of History was among them.

A federal mediator is meeting for a second time with Heartland Community College faculty union negotiators and the administration. The Union has already authorized a strike as early as next Friday. A five year contract expired at the end of June and the two sides remain far apart on pay and benefit issues, particularly the cost of healthcare. Heartland Trustees will meet Monday to discuss the walkout possibility.