Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
Last week House Speaker Madigan introduced a resolution (HJR 45) which would cap the wage increases negotiated between the Governor and public sector employee unions. It would also exclude the number of employees as a subject for negotiations.
Traditionally, the Governor negotiates new collective bargaining agreements with the public employee unions and sends the final version to the General Assembly to be rubber-stamped. The contract last year with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) continued a trend of large cost of living adjustments and limited any facility closures or reduction in employees.
Madigan stated that bargaining is critical to a balanced budget so the legislature can sit on the sidelines or let its will be known. The cost of living allowance for employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has averaged an increase of 4.25 percent over the past five fiscal years. The consumer price index, on the other hand, has averaged an increase of 1.95 percent per year since 2007.
This new proposal would set a limit – currently undefined – for the amount of wage increases that can be included in any new union contract. Negotiations will open this fall for the 2012 contract with AFSCME members.