State employees who are members of AFSCME have voted overwhelmingly to accept the terms of a new state contract. The union announced the results last evening.
Governor Pat Quinn and the union spent 15 months bargaining, until finally coming up with a deal late last month.
It could have been tossed out had a majority of AFSCME members not agreed to it.
That never became an issue.
AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says 96 percent of the union’s 35 thousand members approved of the terms.
Lindall says negotiations with the Quinn administration were tough.
LINDALL: “Maybe the toughest we’ve ever had. But state employees weren’t looking to get ahead. They were just looking to hold even.”
The contract requires current, and retired, state workers pay more for their health insurance.
Employees won’t see raises in the first year, but they will get 2 percent pay bumps the next two years of the contract.
The deal also says workers still waiting on raises they were promised in the last contract will get their money. Quinn had rescinded those raises, citing a lack of money.
The governor calls the new pact a good deal for the state.
Quinn’s office says the state will save $900 million in health care expenses, while it’ll cost Illinois $340 million for all of the raises.
It’s not completely finalized yet; both parties still have to sign on the dotted line.