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Illinois union OKs strike over Rauner contract dispute

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Gov. Bruce Rauner. (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Tens of thousands of Illinois government workers have voted in favor of authorizing a strike if contract talks don’t progress.

The state council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees reported Thursday that 81 percent of union members voting favored a strike.

Roberta Lynch is AFSCME executive director. She says the vote empowers the union’s executive board to call a strike “if no other path forward can be found.”

AFSCME’s 38,000 members have been unable to agree on a contract with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for two years.

Rauner’s general counsel is Dennis Murashko. He issued a statement saying the vote was “an attack on our state’s hardworking taxpayers.”

It’s the first such vote in 40 years of state-employee collective bargaining.