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Illinois state worker’s union okays a strike

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois - State workers in Illinois have authorized a strike.

The state council of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees says 81 percent of its 38,000 members voted in favor of the strike approval.

AFSCME has worked without a contract for two years. The union and Governor Rauner continue to disagree over health care contributions by state workers, overtime pay, merit pay, and privatization.

"We've been at impasse for a long time. Every day that goes by that we're not implementing our contract is well over two million dollars of extra cost to taxpayers," Rauner said.

The last contract expired in June 2015. Rauner wants a four-year wage freeze, increased employee contributions to maintain current health care coverage, and a 40-hour-work week instead of a 37-and-a-half hour one.

Rauner says Illinois' state workers are the highest paid on average in the nation.

The union gave no timetable for a possible strike. AFSCME Executive Director Roberta Lynch says the board will call a strike "if no other path forward can be found."

Lynch says if a strike is called, prison guards at state correctional centers and juvenile detention centers would report to work. That's a little less than one-third of AFSCME membership.

Lynch said the Governor is trying to force his "extreme terms" onto the union, and it "is not willing to accept that."