Good morning all,
I want to talk to everyone about what’s going on with state contract negotiations and our role in this situation.
The most important thing for our Retirees to know is that state contract negotiations WILL impact them. Most notably, the Rauner administration is continuing to press for major cuts to the State Group Health Insurance Plan. By some estimates, his proposal would result in a 500% increase to out-of-pocket costs for Retirees as well as state workers on state health insurance plans.
Now, some members may ask: “didn’t the Supreme Court recently rule that they can’t come after our health care?” We need to constantly reinform them that the ruling in the Kanerva case only dealt with charging retirees premiums– and did not affect rising out-of-pocket costs. This should be apparent to all our state and university members since they already saw their co-pays go up on January 1.
Currently, our contract negotiations will continue until October 1. At that point, it seems extremely likely that the Governor will declare an impasse in bargaining leaving us with two options: accept the governor’s proposal- including all the parts that would impact Retirees; or go out on strike. We have not had a state wide strike in 40 years of bargaining, and it is not something that any public servant wants to see happen as it would adversely affect the communities we serve. Rauner knows this, but as we have seen time and time again he is fundamentally opposed to any state services that assist our most vulnerable citizens.
Right now though, there is another option. SB 1229 would forego the possibility of a strike and send our contract proposals to an arbitrator. This would allow state services to continue and not put at risk all the people and communities that our members serve.
This bill has already passed the House and Senate, but then was vetoed by Governor Rauner. Now, we need to get enough votes for a veto override, and by all accounts it’s going to be an extremely close vote.
We need all of our members to call their state senator and state representative and urge them to vote Yes on the veto override. Attached is a flyer that we are circulating with the union’s legislative hotline that will connect you directly to your state rep and senator. If you are unable to view the flyer on your computer, we are asking Retirees to:
Call 888-912-5959 and follow the prompts to be connected to your elected official.
When connected tell them:
“I support Senate Bill 1229, which helps keep state government working and ensures fairness for state employees. I urge you to vote to override the Governor’s veto.”
If you get a voicemail, leave a message. If its busy keep trying. Basically, keep calling and don’t give up- there’s simply too much at stake.
In the next week or so I will also start rolling out the various pieces of Retiree involvement in the coming fight to secure a fair contract. This will include community outreach and communicating to our members (and the general public) what is at stake this fall. But for now, we need every retiree, family member, and friend to call their state rep and senator about SB 1229.