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State Workers Protest in Western Illinois

T.J. Carson
Around 20 union members stand along East Main Street in Galesburg to rally support. They want Governor Bruce Rauner to come back to the bargaining table.

AFSCME members in Galesburg spent their lunch hour on Thursday chanting "What's disgusting? Union busting" and "2, 4, 6, 8, Rauner should negotiate."

Their rally was one of many held across the state to urge Governor Bruce Rauner to negotiate a new contract. A labor commission this week declared an impasse between the state's largest union and the governor, leaving the union with two options: take what the Governor is offering, or go on strike. 

The noontime rally was one of two scheduled in Galesburg on Thursday. The first was in front of the Department of Child and Family Services building on East Main Street. The other was at the Hill Correctional Center on South Linwood Road.

Greg Baker, who is a DCFS caseworker and who helped organize the first demonstration, said communities across the state will be hurt if the union goes on strike.

"It's going to affect child support, it's going to affect investigations for our office in the Department of Human Services, it's going to affect people getting their food stamps, their applications renewed, and they won't have any benefits," Baker said.

Baker said union members are worried Governor Rauner will freeze union salaries for four years and double health care costs.

Baker said unions are also worried about losing support in the state capitol after Democrats lost their supermajority in this month's election.