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Quinn Voids Union Contract

St. Louis Public Radio
Ill Gov. Pat Quinn says he could sign off on a gambling plan, on his terms.

Amanda Vinicky contributed reporting from Springfield, Ill.

In what's being called an "unprecedented" step, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has terminated the state's contract with its largest employee union.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees helped Quinn win the governor's office in 2010, but the relationship soured almost immediately. The governor, a Democrat, has tried to close state facilities, lay off workers, rescind guaranteed salary hikes and reduce the pensions of state employees, all in an effort to cut costs.

His latest salvo - terminating the current contract - came tonight. Quinn and the union extended the old contract three times throughout a year of negotiations, but the governor's budget spokesman says AFSCME has rejected significant efforts to compromise, and the union refuses to "recognize the extraordinary financial crisis squeezing the state." 

Quinn's office called the termination an effort to force progress. The union sees it entirely differently.

"Pat Quinn's action are sure to deepen the frustration of the men and women who do the real work of state government," said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall. "Pat Quinn is provoking instability in the workplace. And Pat Quinn is making it harder to reach that fair contract."

Lindall said the termination will not immediately effect the 40,000 workers his union represents. Negotiations on a new contract are set to resume Dec. 11.

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