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Contract dispute rages on; union plans to strike

Most government workers and others in Louisiana understand that business relationships sometimes suffer and disagreements arise that can have long-lasting negative effects on many people. A contract dispute that's been raging for two years in another state is a perfect example of this type of contentious situation. This particular disagreement involves a governor and tens of thousands of state-employed workers.

The governor in question recently issued a public statement saying the workers' refusal to negotiate a fair agreement is costing taxpayers at least $2 million per day. The workers, however, have said numerous times in the past two years that they are very willing to negotiate, but will not allow the executive team to walk all over them. The workers' union has approved a walkout if the matter is not soon resolved.

More than 80 percent of the approximately 38,000 members voting agreed that a strike should be used as a last resort. It's apparently the first time in 40 years that such a vote has been cast. Illinois Governor Rauner's contract offer includes increased work hours, as well as increased employee payments toward health care and a wage freeze.

A regulatory body ruled that the two-year contract dispute has reached an impasse; therefore, the governor is entitled to implement his proposed contract, and workers may strike if they don't like it. An appeal was filed and won to halt enforcement of the contract. Workers then agreed to accept two of the three terms, but the governor retracted the offer. Anyone in Louisiana who has ever faced this type of problem knows it sometimes takes highly skilled and aggressive litigation to obtain a fair and agreeable solution.

Source: news-gazette.com, "Illinois union sanctions strike over Rauner contract dispute", Feb. 24, 2017

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