Ill. union: State contract talks at standstill

SPRINGFIELD – Contract negotiations between the state of Illinois and government employees are at a "virtual standstill" because of unfair demands by Gov. Pat Quinn, a union is telling its members.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said in an email that the Democratic governor wants concessions so deep that they are "an insult to every state employee." It said salary cuts and increased insurance costs could mean some workers would take a $10,000 hit.

But Quinn budget spokesman Abdon Pallasch said the state can't afford to keep providing salaries and benefits "at levels far exceeding the salaries and benefits of other unionized state workers across the country."

Even after the proposed cuts, state employees would get better insurance rates and benefits than workers receive in other states or in the private sector, Pallasch told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/QmMxig) in a story published Wednesday.

AFSCME's contract expired June 30, but it remains in effect while negotiations continue. Part of the delay has been the resignation of a mediator and the failure of the two sides to agree on a replacement, AFSCME said.

The union warns that employees may have to take "direct action" at their workplaces and communities to jumpstart the talks.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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