Rauner claims impasse in labor negotiations

afscme 011516

Having already shut down the state budget process, Gov. Bruce Rauner is now walking away from labor talks with the state’s largest employee union and submitting an Unfair Labor Practices Act filing against AFSCME.

On Friday, his office said there is an impasse in negotiations, even though labor groups claim they are willing to keep working toward a compromise. The move is the first step in the possible declaration of an impasse in negotiations, a move which could force employees to strike.

Though the Rauner administration has contended it has reached settlements with all other unions representing state employees, in fact, no settlements have been reached with the six other unions representing more than 25,000 state employees, including state troopers and thousands of child and home health care providers.

According to AFSCME, this past week, the union presented three separate proposals to the State, in which wages and health care were modified to better align with the administration’s framework, and an IDOC proposal was altered to create a joint labor-management committee to improve rehabilitative opportunities for inmates.

Senate Democrats responded to the governor's latest anti-union actions Friday afternoon:

“AFSCME has been able to negotiate contracts with governors from both parties in good faith for the past 30 years,,” said State Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton), Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee. “Governor Rauner has said before that he wants chaos. Now the governor’s hand-picked Labor Relations Board will decide whether or not the governor negotiated in good faith.”

“Governor Rauner assured the state employees who protect children, provide care to veterans and the elderly, staff our prisons and maintain our infrastructure that he would not walk away from the bargaining table or provoke a strike,” said Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora). “We can see now that he does not intend to honor that promise.”

“Today’s decision by the governor affects tens of thousands of Illinois workers who protect our children and our seniors and keep our streets safe at night,” Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) said. “A labor stoppage is truly frightening and I don’t understand why the governor insists on pushing our state closer to complete chaos. These are the moments when you must keep trying.”

“If this is a step to force a last and best offer on state workers, it will add even more chaos to state government,” said Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “This is why I supported SB1229 – to engage both sides into interest arbitration as a way to settle the labor contract with AFSCME.  Interest arbitration has been used successfully with police and firefighters in Illinois for many years, and would offer a reasonable way to end this dispute.”

"In my district, one of the places AFSCME members do essential and demanding work is Stateville Correctional Center,” Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) said. “Governor Rauner needs to value these union members and their families and stay at the bargaining table."

“We have been witnessing a pattern of unreasonable negotiations since July when the governor failed to uphold his constitutional duty to sign a balanced budget into law," Sen. John Mulroe (D-Chicago) said. "Middle-class families, the elderly, the disabled and our poorest citizens are feeling real pain and the governor has the gall to claim that AFSCME is negotiating in bad faith? I again call on Governor Rauner and his administration to work with the General Assembly, to work with the unions, and to help get the State of Illinois back on track. We can make Illinois strong again, but we must work together.”

“Governor Rauner walked away from the table with AFSCME just like he has with the budget,” Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) said. “His version of good faith negotiations is digging his heels in and wanting everyone but himself to compromise. That is not governing. He needs to get back to the negotiating table and find solutions, not cause problems.”