The union released this statement today:
"In an unprecedented step, Governor Pat Quinn's administration late today terminated state government's contract with its largest employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31.
"In 40 years of collective bargaining, Pat Quinn is the first and only Illinois governor to terminate a union contract," AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer said. "His action will heighten employee frustration, provoke instability in the workplace and make settling a contract more difficult."
AFSCME has been in negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement for nearly a year. Scheduled to expire last June 30, the previous contract's terms had been extended by mutual agreement of the parties. But following a bargaining session with a federal mediator in Springfield today, the Quinn administration rejected a further extension offered by the union.
Terminating the contract has little immediate practical effect, as all existing terms and conditions of employment remain in place under state law. But it signals the Quinn Administration's lack of respect for the collective bargaining process.
"While AFSCME is committed to reaching a fair agreement, Pat Quinn seems intent on heading in the wrong direction," AFSCME director Bayer said. "Our union wants constructive engagement but the governor is choosing confrontation instead."
AFSCME Council 31 represents 40,000 men and women who work for the State of Illinois. AFSCME-represented state employees care for veterans and the disabled, help struggling families, protect children from abuse, maintain safe prisons and much more."