Just so everyone is aware, the MOU on Mandatory Overtime takes effect on July 1, 2010.  What it essentially says is that management cannot mandate you for “forseeable” overtime and if they do and you refuse you are not elegible for discipline.  This includes preapproved benefit time.  It means that if there are 4 call-ins there shouldn’t be 5 mandates.  AFSCME believes that management should also take into account the average number of call-ins per day, but it is reasonable that this issue will eventually go before an arbitrator.
If you feel like you are being mandated inappropriately then please contact a steward.  Stewards please ask the shift commanders the reason for the mandate and advise our members accordingly.  It is reasonable that management will refer you for discipline if you refuse your mandate even if it is for “forseeable” overtime but we will fight it and win it.
It is with your help that we have been able to negotiate this memorandum of understanding and it is only going to work if we use it and force management to abide by it.
Please email us with any questions.
Also the extended time period on a couple of temporary assignments has been addressed and management has agreed to rotate them appropriately.
All class grievances for the recent changes are currently going through the process.  Yes, it takes some time, but we are fighting it.  Please remember to do your part.  Let us know when there are problems and complete incident reports when they are justified.  Keep us informed.

AFSCME Local 1133
116 S. Franklin St.
Dwight, IL 60420
Phone: 815-584-3938
Fax: 815-584-1988

Big Business still playing old pension-cut tune – AFSCME Council 31

This spring, the corporate fatcats at the Commercial Club of Chicago stirred up enough hysteria to pass legislation slashing pension benefits for future state, local and university employees. But they aren’t happy with the harm they’ve done to undermine retirement security for the public servants of tomorrow–so they’re beating the drums to reduce pensions going forward for current public employees, too.

“The club says pension cuts brought in for new hires earlier this year need to be extended to existing employees,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Why? Because, the Sun-Times went on, “the huge hole in Illinois’ finances is scaring off new businesses.”

One problem. Even the fatcats admit this isn’t true. The Commercial Club’s chief mouthpiece, a corporate lawyer named R. Eden Martin, was pointedly asked in a recent Bloomberg News interview, “You represent a commercial club. Are any of your members threatening to move out of state?”

“I would say no one has threatened to move out of state,” Martin replied.

No, of course businesses aren’t moving out of Illinois. Centrally located, our state is a hub for rail, highways, waterways and air transit. We’re home to 13 million people, including one of the great world cities and many fine universities. Our state has tremendous human and natural resources. And none of those vital components of a good place to do business are going anywhere–so neither are smart businesses.

What Martin’s really saying is that if the state reforms its tax structure–to raise adequate revenue for jobs, vital services, responsibly paying the state’s bills, and making taxes fairer–that is, if state leaders finally do what everyone in touch with reality recognizes is desperately needed, then rich corporate lawyers and their CEO pals might finally be paying their fair share. And heaven forbid that.

Right now, they’re paying the lowest flat income tax rate in the nation–a paltry 3 percent of their enormous incomes. When the average retired state employee’s pension is just $20,000 a year, it’s hard to muster up much sympathy for the titans of the Commercial Club. They include:

* W. James Farrell, retired CEO of Illinois Tool Works whose annual pension is $1.4 million. He also gets hundreds of thousands of dollars more from serving on the boards of various other corporations.

* John W. Madigan, retired CEO of the Tribune Company whose annual pension is more than $220,000, and who cashed in the tune of more than $370,000 for attending a few board meetings of a company called Gilead Sciences in 2008 alone.

* Andrew J. McKenna, a major Republican Party official and donor who scrapes by on more than $1.2 million a year he gets–you can’t say “earns”–by serving on the board of McDonald’s and AON.

* Richard L. Thomas, a retired bank executive whose annual pension is more than $600,000, and

* Our friend R. Eden Martin himself, who in 2008 guzzled more than $330,000 in compensation from two companies where he sits on the board–and that’s on top of the retirement benefits he takes from the law firm, Sidley Austin, where he once worked. (Oddly enough for such a self-proclaimed champion of accountability and transparency, the firm’s pension benefit information is not publicly available.)

If only the pundits and politicians who echo these fatcats’ phony hysteria would consider whether it is truly believable that the modest benefits earned by caregivers, caseworkers and child abuse investigators–or park rangers, police evidence technicians and environmental scientists, to name just a few more essential public employees–are the cause of our state’s fiscal crisis.

In truth, the budget meltdown is the result of decades of abjectly irresponsible elected officials–now and in the past–who failed to (1) pay their share into the retirement systems and (2) raise adequate revenue to do so.

Is it credible that corporate CEOs who luxuriate in million-dollar pensions should get to denigrate the modest retirement benefits and affordable health care earned by retired public servants? Of course not. But as long as the politicians and media mouthpieces keep repeating Big Business talking points and their counterfactual claptrap, we have to redouble our efforts to fight back.

via Big Business still playing old pension-cut tune – AFSCME Council 31.

Ill. parolees disappear after being released early

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. AP — Dozens of parolees, including one imprisoned for his part in a 2008 murder, have disappeared after they were set free as part of a secret early release program, according to documents acquired by The Associated Press.The parolees were let go as part of the “MGT Push” plan that Gov. Pat Quinn shut down in December after The Associated Press revealed it.The program has embarrassed Quinn as he runs for re-election, although the Democratic governor has tried to blame Corrections Director Michael Randle, saying he didn’t know Randle was going to release violent offenders. The administration ordered parole agents in January to begin “intensive compliance” checks on the released prisoners.More than 50 MGT Push parolees are currently on the lam, according to documents from Corrections obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and analyzed by The Associated Press

Read the rest of the story here: Associated Press.

Brady: Quinn to blame for lower bond rating

SPRINGFIELD – Republican candidate for governor Bill Brady is using a recent downgrade of the state’s bond rating to bash Gov. Pat Quinn.Three days after Moody’s lowered Illinois’ bond rating to A1, Brady issued a statement describing the move as proof of “the failed economic policies of Governor Quinn.”A lower rating could cost taxpayers in the long run because it may result in less favorable interest rates when the state sells bonds.“While the Governor continues to blame others for his failures, Moody’s cited a ‘chronic failure of political will’ for this downgrade. Voters have had enough. We need a clean break in Illinois,” Brady noted in a prepared statement.However, in its analysis of Illinois’ financial problems, Moody’s suggested that the state could improve its bond rating with some kind of revenue increase that would bring stability and money to the cash-strapped state.Quinn has called for an income tax increase, but Brady is opposed to a tax hike and instead is calling for a 10 percent cut in state expenses.

via Brady: Quinn to blame for lower bond rating.

Quinn Won’t Specify What Will Be Cut From State Budget

CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn insisted on Tuesday that unlike lawmakers, he's willing to make the tough decisions to cut spending – he's just not quite ready to say how.

At a news conference after an appearance at a Chicago elementary school, the governor would not talk specifics about how he will address a state budget approved by lawmakers that left open a $13 billion shortfall.

“We are going to have to make cuts across the board,” Quinn said, before going on to say he hopes to avoid deep cuts to human services, health care, public safety and especially education, which make up the bulk of the state's budget.

Read the full article here: Quinn Won’t Specify What Will Be Cut From State Budget.

Quinn: Senate will be back by month’s end to finish budget – Chicago Breaking News

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn today predicted lawmakers will return to the Capitol by the end of June to vote on borrowing about $4 billion to make next year's state worker pension payment, the final piece of a patchwork budget aimed at keeping state government operating until after the November election.

via Quinn: Senate will be back by month’s end to finish budget – Chicago Breaking News.

State: Senators react to lack of pension borrowing bill – The Daily Journal

SPRINGFIELD — After the Illinois Senate left Springfield without a finished plan for paying the state's pension bills, lawmakers expressed disappointment in the way it all ended.The Illinois General Assembly was able to pass a budget, but hit a snag over plans to pay the pension payment.The House passed a plan to borrow the $4 billion needed to make the pension payment for fiscal year 2011, but the plan didn't come to a vote in the Senate.The Senate could return and pass the borrowing plan later this year, but no schedule has been set.The state could skip the payment this year, forcing the five public employee pension systems to sell assets and lose out on money earned from interest.Lawmakers believe skipping the payments could cost the state $20-30 billion down the line.As a third choice, lawmakers could make its full, $4 billion contribution to the pension systems, but that would create significant cash-flow problems for other parts of state government, including schools and social service agencies.

Click here to read the full article: State: Senators react to lack of pension borrowing bill – The Daily Journal.

Could state budget woes boost crime?

SPRINGFIELD — Potential reductions to educational programs in state prisons could lead to an uptick in crime, a prison watchdog group says.

The warning comes as the Illinois Department of Corrections is scrambling to find an organization to provide vocational training to inmates at two southern Illinois prisons.

Southeastern Illinois College trustees voted last month to stop providing services at Shawnee and Vienna correctional centers because it wasn't being paid in a timely manner by the cash-strapped state.

The community college joined at least two other vendors who say they will not do business with the Department of Corrections until they are paid. The others include an eyeglass manufacturer and an ammunition dealer.

The budget approved by lawmakers last month doesn't address the massive backlog, which is expected to top $5.5 billion this month.

“Everyone's sympathetic to the situation. There's just no money to pay us,” Southeastern board chairman Pat York said in a prepared statement.

The John Howard Association, which monitors prison-related issues in Illinois, says a decrease in educational offerings to inmates could increase recidivism rates.

“Numerous scientific studies have proven that education for inmates greatly reduces the likelihood they will commit new offenses after their release from prison,” the organization noted in a release this week.

Southeastern is among a handful of community colleges that provide educational services to state prisons. Illinois Valley Community College, for example, provides services to Sheridan Correctional Center.

Rend Lake Community College offers programs to inmates at the Big Muddy and Pinckneyville prisons.

Corrections spokeswoman Sharyn Elman wasn't aware of any other colleges threatening to quit because they are not being paid for their work.

According to college officials, Southeastern had hoped to gain assurances of timely payments from the state, but the ongoing budget mess “resulted in too many unknowns and increased financial risk.”

Elman said Southeastern was asking for money up front to provide educational services.

“Southeastern asked for advance payments going forward and (state) code does not allow us to do that,” Elman said. “We are currently in talks with another college and are hopeful that they will provide the service.”

Elman said a decision on what college will replace Southeastern could come quickly, allowing education programs to continue at the two southern Illinois prisons without a large gap in service.

“There really won't be any down time,” Elman said.

via Could state budget woes boost crime?.