Members Of Illinois' Largest Public Employees Union Approve New Contract
By a margin of 96-to-4, members of Illinois' largest public employees' union voted to ratify a new contract with the state.
AFSCME and Governor Pat Quinn's administration reached a deal in late February, but in order for it to take effect, a majority of the union's 35,000 members had to agree to it.
AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says the negotiations may have been the toughest the union has ever experienced.
"We've negotiated contracts, in good times and in bad, with Governors who are Democrats and Republicans, for 40 years in the state of Illinois, "Lindall said. "This was a very contentious round of negotiations."
The union says the contract will give employees pay raises that average out to 1.3 percent annually over the life of the three-year contract. It also requires the state to pay back wages to employees who were supposed to get them under the last contract, but never did because lawmakers didn't appropriate the money.
Also under the contract, current and retired workers will have to pay more for their health insurance.