SPRINGFIELD-The government employee union representing 35,000 state workers ratified a three-year contract reached with Gov. Pat Quinn's administration, formally ending a stormy 15-month round of negotiations and buying the governor labor peace heading into a possible 2014 re-election bid.
The deal approved by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31's membership gives union members pay increases of 2 percent in years two and three of the deal.
The contract's first year offers no increase, though union members will be able to collect backpay withheld by Quinn's administration from the previous contract.
Union employees agreed to a series of higher health-care premiums, co-payments and deductibles that will result in about $900 million in savings to the state over the life of the contract, both sides contend.
"While this contract doesn't fully keep pace with the rising cost of living, it will help employees meet those costs. At the same time, it will help the state to address its economic challenges," Henry Bayer, AFSCME's executive director, said in a statement.