(MT. VERNON, IL) — State workers will take their message and protests to the streets of Mt. Vernon this afternoon. After six months of negotiations over a new union contract for state of Illinois employees and with less than a month until the current agreement is set to expire on June 30, the Rauner Administration continues to make extreme demands, leaving the two sides very far from a settlement, says a press release from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union. Hundreds of state workers protested at dozens of locations Wednesday, including a mental health facility in Anna, where hundreds of state employees work. They will repeat the efforts at other locations, including at 4:30 Thursday, June 11, at 4510 Broadway St. in Mt. Vernon. Union leaders say Rauner has threatened to shut down state agencies, should negotiations fail, something his office denies. Union heads warn it could lead to a strike. Rauner’s office says that as long as unions bargain in good faith, they remain confident they can reach a deal by the deadline. Some union members fear if that doesn’t happen, Rauner will unilaterally cut their wages and benefits. Lindall says state employees have never been locked out or forced to strike in some 40 years of collective bargaining in Illinois.