AFSCME requests mediator, current contract extended

Doug Finke

Negotiations between the state and its largest employee union ended Wednesday with the union requesting that a mediator be brought into the talks.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said both the state and the union have agreed to extend the current contract beyond its June 30 expiration date while a mediator is selected. The union has never seen one state contract expire before a new pact was in place.

Under federal labor law, either side in a contract negotiation can request a mediator. However, both sides must agree on which mediator to select.

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said there is no way to tell how quickly a mediator will be on the job. He said a mediator has never been called in before in negotiations on a new state contract.

The state and union have been in negotiations for seven months over a new labor agreement. AFSCME said state negotiators are demanding large increases in health insurance premiums, co-payments and pension contributions without offering adequate pay raises. AFSCME Executive Director Henry Bayer said that after four years, union employees will see no net increase in their pay under the state’s contract offer.

After a massive rally by AFSCME members in Springfield Monday, the two sides resumed their talks. The talks ended before noon Wednesday with no agreement and no further negotiations scheduled.

AFSCME issued a statement saying some progress was made this week but that “the differences between the parties are still very substantial.”

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or