(CBS) — It’s the first step towards a massive state worker walk-out that could see state parks and libraries close, child welfare cases grind to a halt and crime-lab cases stockpile.
Members of AFSCME, the largest state worker union, voted to authorize a strike.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.
“We won’t just roll over,” says Roberta Lynch, executive director of AFSCME Local 31.
Counters Gov. Bruce Rauner says he’s “disappointed” at the prospect of a strike.
They are two faces of a brewing Illinois labor battle that may be reaching its boiling point.
Eighty-one percent of union members voted “yes” to give its bargaining committee the power to call a strike, if necessary. Lynch says the vote’s the result of Rauner’s refusal to continue contract negotiations.
The union’s 38,000 Illinois employees work in many state facilities, including prisons, parks and libraries, with the Department of Children and Family Services and as dispatchers for the Illinois State Police.
Lynch says all but security employees in the jails and juvenile justice centers could walk — potentially paralyzing the state.
If AFSCME walks out, other workers could walk right in, one expert tells CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov.
“We’re prepared and will keep essential services running,” the governor says.
Despite the vote, there’s no strike date partly because there is ongoing legal action regarding negotiations.
AFSCME says it’s biggest issue right now is what they characterize as a 100 percent increase in health care payments for workers.