Labor Board rules Rauner/AFSCME negotiations at an impasse

CHICAGO — A nearly two-years-in-the-making labor contract dispute between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration and the largest state worker union was ruled to be at a total impasse today by the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

As a result of the unanimous ruling, the state can now implement its contract. That gives the union the opportunity to accept the terms or vote to go on strike.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union has vowed to appeal the decision, noting that the members of the Labor Relations Board are appointed by the Governor.

Catherine Kelly with the governor’s office said, “The contract, mirroring agreements we have already reached with eighteen other unions, includes merit pay for the vast majority of AFSCME employees and the same forty-hour work week requirement that applies to most employees outside state government. It will also allow individuals to volunteer their time to help fellow Illinois residents through things like assisting social services agencies, cleaning up state parks, or training state employees.”

AFSCME Council 31—the largest union of state employees, representing some 38,000 Illinois state workers claims Rauner is trying to force state workers to accept his terms or go out on strike.

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said of the ruling that the union has stated clearly its desire to work while negotiating in good faith. Frerichs commented that the governor could choose to return to the bargaining table and he urges him to do exactly that.

Rauner’s representatives walked away from the bargaining table on Jan. 8 and have refused to meet with the union’s bargaining committee ever since