CMS warns union workers: no raises, limited grievances if contract expires

SPRINGFIELD –A memo issued Wednesday from the the Illinois Department of Central Management Services tells its workers that once their union contract expires June 30, the agency is no longer required to process grievances over issues that arise after July 1, and that no wage increases will take place after that time.

The memo says the agency is currently in the process of negotiating successor agreements with the labor unions that represent State employees and that the current collective bargaining agreements with the unions expire on June 30, 2015.

“CMS remains hopeful that it can reach agreement on the terms of successor contracts with all of the labor unions before June 30th. Whether it can succeed with every union, however, is doubtful,” says the memo. “For those contracts on which agreements cannot be reached by July 1, it is likely that the parties will agree to continue to negotiate and that members of those unions will agree to work without a contract.”

If the contract expires, says the memo, then — with the exceptions described below and until further notice — the State will operate as if the terms and conditions of employment set forth in the current collective bargaining agreements (e.g., procedures for filling vacancies, temporary assignments and layoffs) still apply.

Until new terms are negotiated, employees will continue to be paid their current wages and will remain at their current steps and/or in-hire rate. However, according to the memo, no wage, in-hire, or step/lane increases, or semi-automatic advancements should be awarded under an expired agreement.

“Once a contract has expired the State is only required to process certain grievances. Whether a grievance must be processed, in the absence of an agreement, is determined by the facts of the grievance,” explains the memo, saying, “For example, a grievance over facts that arose before July 1st or a grievance that involves a right that accrued under the expired agreement, such as a denial of a vacation previously approved pursuant to the expired agreement, must be processed.”

The agency states that for grievances by employees who are members of unions with which the State has no agreement after June 30th, agencies should consult with CMS Labor Relations before deciding whether to process a specific grievance, and that “If after consultation, a decision is made not to process a grievance, the Agency should notify the Union in writing that it is not processing the grievance because the collective bargaining agreement has expired.”