An Important Message for City of Chicago AFSCME Members
We are currently confronting the biggest public health emergency of our times. Many City of Chicago employees are part of an army of public servants who are still on the job every day, deserving of gratitude for all you are doing—and deserving of the safest possible working conditions.
AFSCME has been pressing the City to ensure that appropriate steps are being taken and needed PPE provided to prevent the spread of the spread of this treacherous virus.
Our union has also been working to expand employees’ rights as you seek to cope with the extraordinary demands being made on so many aspects of your life. We have worked with the Lightfoot Administration to ensure that employees can remain in pay status for as long as needed if they become sick, are quarantined, or ordered to self-isolate by a public health agency or medical provider.
Now we have just reached an agreement with the Administration to modify the union contract in order to extend the period for vacation carryover—since so many employees have not been able to use their vacation time during this period of restricted travel and intensified work schedules. Under the new agreement, unused vacation time carried over from 2019 into 2020 will not be forfeited on June 1, 2020 as the contract provides. Instead employees will have until to use this vacation time before it would be forfeited.
Many more challenges lay before us. As the City of Chicago begins the process of “reopening” pursuant to the schedule that Governor Pritzker has laid out, AFSCME is fighting to ensure that the conditions to which employees return will be as safe as possible. Unfortunately, the Chicago Public Library has already compelled all employees to return to work without putting sufficient safeguards in place. Our union is now working to address the array of problems employees confronted on their return.
Nationally, AFSCME is leading the charge in Washington, DC for federal funding to aid state and local governments—like the City of Chicago—which have taken enormous hits to their budgets as a result of the pandemic. In response to our efforts, earlier this week the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the HEROES Act, which provides vitally needs funds to prevent layoffs and service cuts in Chicago and other cities across Illinois. But Republicans in the Senate are blocking this measure, after previously passing legislation that provided billions in “relief” to the big banks and other corporations.
This holiday weekend we honor those who fought and died to keep our country free and strong. Now we are fighting a new battle—both against a deadly virus and against the forces that want only to enrich the already wealthy, instead of aiding those of us on the front lines. We can rise to meet this challenge, just as those who came before us, and emerge stronger together!