- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has been contacting retired state employees to determine if they’re willing to come back on short-term contracts in case of a workers’ strike, according to a published report.

About two weeks ago, rural Sangamon County resident David Scheina, 65, received a call asking about the possibility of working in the interim if there’s a strike, the (Springfield) State Journal Register (https://bit.ly/1LNJ08k ) reports. He retired three years ago after working in state government for 25 years, mostly at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

“I was somewhat appalled by it,” he said of the message. “I feel it was wrong, an employee on state time trying to line up retirees to cross a potential picket line that I didn’t see being suggested. I thought it wasn’t bargaining in good faith.”

During his time in state government, Scheina held positions that were both union and non-union, he said.

“I think it’s important that the retirees also understand that these negotiations have an impact on their future also,” Scheina added. “Our medical and dental and vision care benefits could still be on the table.”

Similar calls have been made to other retirees over the past several weeks, as Rauner’s administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 have been negotiating a new labor agreement, according to the newspaper. A one-month extension on the contract ending June 30 expires on Friday.

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly didn’t deny the tactic, saying the administration is “pursuing all options.”

The fact that the governor’s administration is contacting retirees about the possibility of returning to work “is the smoking gun that shows Gov. Rauner is seeking to cause a crisis,” according to American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“It echoes his repeated threats on the campaign trail to shut down state government and the public services it provides in order to strip the rights of public service workers and drive down their middle-class standards of living,” said spokesman Anders Lindall. “Our union has never had a strike in state government. State employees don’t want to be forced to strike.”

The union is seeking to extend the terms of the current agreement, he said.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com

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