Yesterday, the rights of employees to have a voice in their workplace, to bargain with employers, and to have some control over the conditions they work in received a heavy blow as a Wisconsin judge ruled that the new law that dismantles collective bargaining within the state can take effect. The new law limits “limits Wisconsin’s public employees to bargaining over their wages. Raises will be limited to the inflation rate unless voters approve larger increases. The law also requires public employees to contribute 5.8% of their salaries to their pensions and pay at least 12.6% of their health-care premiums.” This is also the law that drew national attention when thousands of people in Wisconsin showed up in the capital to protest — and who still are there protesting and moving towards a recall election in some districts in July.
Laws like this aren’t just about dismantling the power of unions — they’re about dismantling the ability and power of employees to have a voice, to be able to fight back against unfair conditions in the workplace, to be able to work in a safe environment, to be able to stand together and not be afraid. Now, we haven’t seen extreme moves — like the ones in Wisconsin and in other neighboring states — here in Illinois. Instead, what the politicians are doing is trying to take away employee rights piecemeal, through pension “reform,” top-down “education reform,” through regulations, and other avenues. Now is the best time to join a union and stop the removal of your voice. The job of a union is to give you a seat at the table — and that’s what education employees desperately need right now.
Still no other news regarding the state-wide health care problem, though I’ll go ahead and report some of the information the IEA has:
The state has already entered into agreements with HMO Illinois, PersonalCare, HealthLink OAP, Blue Advantage HMO and the Teachers Choice Health Plan (CIGNA).
In addition, the state can now enter into 90-day agreements with Health Alliance HMO, Health Alliance Illinois and Humana Benefit Plan of Illinois, as long as both sides can agree to a contract within the next 24 hours, or so. We anticipate that will happen.
Members MUST make a selection by June 17th, or they will be defaulted into the Teachers’ Choice Health Plan or the Quality Care Plan. If members have already made a selection, they can make a change if they do it by the close of business on June 17th.
To do so, follow these links to the CMS website:
Community college employees: http://www.state.il.us/cms/3_servicese_ben_choice/choice_ciphome.htm
State university employees: http://www.state.il.us/cms/3_servicese_ben_choice/state-ben.htm
Again, more updates to come if things change.