UPDATES FOR VR-704:
* Regarding the wage increase lawsuit, the final arguments to the Judge were due last Friday and we are hoping for a ruling before the end of the year. We do know that there are rumors about when the Judge may rule, but that is not confirmed. We are continually monitoring this case and we will immediately email the group as well as update our website and Facebook page as soon as we hear any news. Please be watching on all fronts.
* Regarding, the DOC/DJJ facility closures, you are probably aware that Judge Caveness issued a restraining order stopping the closing of the facilities. The Administration appealed that decision to the 5th Appellate Court and that court upheld Judge Caveness' ruling, at least for now. The next logical step would be for the State to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court and they will likely request an expedited hearing. As soon as we hear of any action taken by the Administration, we will notify you via email and the website and Facebook as soon as possible.
We have had many non-economic issues to negotiate and they are very important issues, such as Temporary Assignments, Filling of Vacancies and Transfer Rights, Shift Preference by Seniority, Overtime and how it is mandated. For DOC, the State is pushing to have Grooming Standards apply at all facilities and we are now at an impasse on that issue as well as the Filling of Vacancies (Transfer Rights). That means, if neither side changes their position we will likely end up in mediation and possibly, subsequently arbitration. We are currently discussing Temporary Assignment, Overtime mandating, Shift Preference by seniority and some minor issues regarding benefit time. The input that we have gotten from our negotiations committee and the members of VR-704 is that these issues are of utmost importance so we continue to push and fight for these issues and that is taking some time. Please do not be discouraged that we do not have a contract yet as we are taking time on these issues to make sure we get them all resolved.
As you may be aware, the Administration has stated that it will no longer honor the contract between the State and AFSCME Council 31. We have had many members voice concern so we want to address this issue. We are in a very different situation than AFSCME. First, it is our understanding that AFSCME has been siging month to month extensions of the contract. We have signed a general extension that would expire when a new agreement is reached. Second, we know that AFSCME's membership consists of a large amount of employees that are not security staff and they have threatened to strike. The overwhelming majority of our VR-704 unit is considered security staff and by law, they do not have the right to strike but rather have the right to "interest arbitration" where an arbitrator would make a ruling on any issues outstanding at the end of negotiations ("impasse"). As sympathetic as we are to other Unions who are attempting to get a fair contract under this Administration, the security staff under this unit CANNOT strike, by law.
These are tough times and we need to continue to band together. Be watching your email, our website, and our Facebook page for updates. If you have questions, please call us!
IF YOU KNOW OF A FELLOW MEMBER WHO IS NOT ON OUR EMAIL LIST, PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH HIM OR HER AND HAVE THEM CONTACT US TO UPDATE THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS.
Mike StoutBusiness Manager