It's not clear whether Illinois government is making preparations for a strike by state workers. Governor Pat Quinn was repeatedly asked about it Wednesday. But as IPR's Brian Mackey reports, he didn't answer the question head-on.
AFSCME, the state's largest government-employee union, has been negotiating a new contract for more than a year. The administration is demanding that workers forego raises for at least three years, and pay a lot more for health insurance.
The slow pace of progress has AFSCME urging workers to get ready for a strike. They're supposed to be squeezing in doctors' visits, filling prescriptions, and saving money.
Gov. Quinn was asked whether Illinois was making comparable preparations. He seemed to answer both ways.
REPORTER: “Are you telling your administration to prepare? Is there anything you’re doing to prepare?”
QUINN: "No, I hope we can use collective bargaining to reach an agreement that will work for everyone."
REPORTER: "Sure, you want to reach an agreement, and I'm sure you're working very hard toward that. But you need to have contingencies too, in case there is a strike."
QUINN: "Yeah, you're always prepared, but I think the bottom line is ..."
AFSCME says it seems the administration might be trying to provoke a strike. That's a charge Quinn flatly denies.