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AFSCME Members Authorize Potential Strike

Roberta Lynch speaks with reporters at a news conference
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch, at podium, is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to resume negotiations. Rauner has declined, citing 67 pervious unsuccessful bargaining sessions.

Members of AFSCME, the biggest labor union representing Illinois state workers, have taken a big step toward a possible strike.

AFSCME has been fighting with Gov. Bruce Rauner for more than two years. Rauner says they’ve come to an impasse, and has moved to impose his terms, which include more costly health care and a wage freeze, coupled with the opportunity for merit bonuses.

Meanwhile, AFSCME Director Roberta Lynch says the strike option was approved with 81 percent support.

“And I think for the first time, people could really feel … I demand respect, I deserve respect," Lynch said. "That’s the message that I think this vote sends most clearly.”

A strike is not guaranteed. AFSCME says it hopes Rauner will resume negotiating.

Rauner, however, says after 67 failed bargaining sessions, it’s time to implement the contract.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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