Governor Pat Quinn's budget speech highlighted his administration's recent contract agreement with AFSCME, the state's largest government-employee union. So far, it's been a tough year for organized labor and the state's Democratic leaders. If AFSCME members approve the tentative agreement, they'll get raises, but they'll also be paying more for health care.
Quinn says that will save Illinois more than $900 million over the next few years, and called it an "unprecedented" victory:
"Unlike prior administrations, we did not give in. We kept working, and working, and it worked."
But lawmakers counter that much of those savings will be eaten up by pay raises. The agreement comes after more than a year of unions fighting state government at every turn.
House Speaker Michael Madigan addressed the growing rift between labor and the state's Democratic leadship. In an interview with the public TV show "Illinois Lawmakers," he says he's confident they'll come home before the 2014 elections:
"Mike Madigan is not going to alienate labor unions. He may alienate one or two labor unions, but not all of them. So put that fear to rest, organized labor will be supporting Democrats in the next general election."
In a statement, unions repeated a demand that changes to the pension system not include a cut in benefits.
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