Illinois Union And Governor Accuses Each Other Of Being Liars

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A prominent state union denounced Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday for what it claims is misleading rhetoric about labor negotiations.

Public-sector unions and the governor have struggled to arrive at new labor contracts for state workers. The administration released a letter detailing what it argues are facts to counter misleading union informational meetings. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) denounced the letter claiming its intended to distract state workers.

“[The] latest misleading missive is full of falsehoods and clearly intended to divide and distract state employees,” the union declared in a press release. “Already thousands of union members have attended those meetings to get the true facts from their representatives on the bargaining committee, not Bruce Rauner’s political spin.”

Rauner entered office just over a year ago promising to turn around the state economy. His proposals have involved limiting regulations and reining in union power. AFSCME remains one of the most steadfast opponents of the governor even as most state unions have managed to compromise with him. Office of Labor Negotiations Deputy Director John Terranova questioned the reliability of the union meeting.

“We know that, in recent days, AFSCME has been conducting ‘informational sessions,’ but we question how productive those sessions can be if AFSCME does not provide accurate information,” Terranova wrote in a letter obtained by The State Journal-Register‎. “We cannot sit idly by without correcting the incorrect information being provided to AFSCME bargaining unit employees and the public.”

The Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois has also defied attempts to reform union benefits. Rauner has claimed on numerous occasions that limiting public-sector union power will help the state economy by reducing spending. A memo sent by the his office in July detailed that AFSCME is demanding a 11.5 to 29 percent pay increase for state employees, a 37.5 hour work week and five weeks of fully paid vacation, among other privileges.

Democrat lawmakers have attempted to intervene into the labor dispute. They introduced a bill February that would have allowed unions to override the governor during troubled labor negotiations. Union benefits, though, was just one area Rauner argued was in need of reform. He also listed taxes, regulations, pensions and education as obstacles that have hindered job growth.

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