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April 11, 2017

Chicago aldermen urge Gov. Rauner to negotiate with state workers

The Chicago City Council overwhelmingly approved a resolution on March 29, calling on Rauner to return to the bargaining table with state workers and their unions.

“I’m so frustrated that the governor refuses to bargain,” Aracely Tirado, an employee at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, told reporters at a March news conference. “He walked out. He just wants to impose his terms without any understanding of what impact it would have on state employees and on our families. Or perhaps, he just doesn’t care.”

Tirado, a veteran of the United States Air Force, and her husband budget carefully to make sure they can provide a better future for their four children. Rauner’s demands of a four-year wage freeze coupled with double the health care costs would jeopardize that future.

“I know how the governor wants everyone to believe that state employees all make the big bucks, but it’s just not true. We don’t. Let’s get real. The pay cut would hurt me and my family.”

Samia Miles works for the Illinois Department of Human Services, whose mission is to reduce poverty and help individuals and families get the services they need. She worries about the impact of Rauner’s contract demands far beyond the thousands of employees.

“He wants a blank check to privatize anything at any time without any accountability,” stated Miles in testimony before the City Council’s workforce development committee. "I believe in standing up for a fair contract not only for myself but my community."

The resolution was introduced by 21st ward Alderman Howard Brookins with 45 co-sponsors.

"I'm standing here because I believe this is right for our community and the most vulnerable people out there … the kids that state workers protect every day," Brookins said. “We are asking him to negotiate in good faith so our communities can begin healing.”

"I hope this is a wakeup call,” said Alderman Brookins. “And if Governor Rauner doesn't answer, we're going to continue ringing the alarm.”

"We are not blind to the fact we have no power to compel Gov. Rauner to act to do the right thing," said 15th Ward Alderman Raymond Lopez. "But that doesn't mean that we as a city, as a collective, can't continue to fight against the winds that he tries to bring, the winds of disorder and chaos and forced crises that are impacting ... communities that are most vulnerable."

Governor Rauner responded to the city council action by once again falsely claiming that AFSCME would not compromise. In fact, the union has repeatedly called for renewed negotiations and publically issued a framework for negotiations that included no general wage increases and a modest increase in health insurance costs.