On top of top salaries and health care, AFSCME contract includes lesser known provisions unheard of in private sector

Mailee Smith

Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith
/ Labor
December 4, 2016

On top of top salaries and health care, AFSCME contract includes lesser known provisions unheard of in private sector

AFSCME’S outrageous demands when negotiating for a new contract led to an impasse in negotiations. Now the union is suing to keep the state from implementing the contract – while ignoring that state workers will maintain many lavish perks unlike anything offered in the private sector.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is suing the state to keep it from implementing its contract with state employees.

Despite AFSCME’s protests, the new contract actually includes many lavish perks found in the previous contract.

Many of these benefits are unlike anything offered in the private sector.

Lax disciplinary procedures for absent or late employees

  • A state worker can have 10 unauthorized absences in a two-year period of time without any real repercussions.
  • At the 11th unauthorized absence, the employee will receive a five-day suspension. It isn’t until an employee has 12 unauthorized absences in a two-year period of time that the state can discharge the employee.
  • The contract specifically provides that “[t]here shall be no general policy of docking for late arrival.” An employee can be up to an hour late to work – without being docked pay – as long as it is not done “repeatedly.”

More than 15 different leaves of absence – including leave to perform union work

  • The state is required to keep available a job for a state worker who is elected to state office until the state official’s elected term is over.
  • As many as 30 employees at a time can be granted leaves of absence – for up to two years each – to serve as AFSCME representatives or officers at the international, state or local level.
  • There are multiple leaves to pursue educational opportunities.

In most cases – such as leave for union office and educational leave – state employees continue to accumulate seniority. Because seniority is the main consideration in a number of employment decisions – from vacation and overtime preference to order of layoff – that is a big deal. It means an employee not working for the state can maintain a position of higher seniority than someone who has been working for the state all along.

The governor’s offer not only kept all of these leaves of absence, it also added bereavement leave. If a state worker’s son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter dies, that worker is entitled to three days’ bereavement leave, with pay, in addition to any other time off the employee would like to utilize.

Generous holiday pay

While the governor’s offer does alter overtime pay for holidays, AFSCME employees will still receive pay that far surpasses the norm in the private sector:

  • Employees will receive time-and-a half pay (as opposed to the original double time pay) for working on a standard holiday.
  • AFSCME employees will still receive even more for “super holidays,” which include Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
  • If an employee works on a super holiday, he or she will receive double time pay (as opposed to the original double-and-one-half-times pay under the old contract).

Of course, these overtime perks differ from what is required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which does not require any overtime pay at all for work on holidays.

Even with the adjustments to overtime pay in Rauner’s offer, AFSCME employees will still receive holiday overtime benefits beyond what is expected in the private sector.

By failing to acknowledge that the contract still includes such lavish benefits – and by pursuing litigation to obtain even more – AFSCME proves just how out of touch it is with the taxpayers it expects to pay for those benefits.

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