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Strike threat raises stakes in state union talks

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The largest state-employee union in Illinois is preparing to ask its members about striking if there's no progress this week on contract talks with Gov. Pat Quinn's office.

Henry Bayer is director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union has been negotiating with Quinn on a new contract for more than a year. The last contract expired June 30.

Most of AFSCME's (AFSK'-meez) 40,000 members are allowed to strike. But state law prohibits security workers from walking out. Those include guards at prisons and juvenile detention centers in AFSCME's case.

The Associated Press asked Quinn last week whether he has ordered preparations for a work stoppage. But Quinn said only a governor is "always prepared."

Labor experts say a strike is politically risky for both sides.

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