From Illinois Public Radio - News -

Arbitrator: Quinn, Prisons Violated Union Contract

Two major Illinois prisons and other facilities will stay open for at least another month after an arbitrator ruled Gov. Pat Quinn's administration violated workers' rights in rushing to close them.Arbitrator Steven Bierig concluded Friday that the state departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice did not properly negotiate with workers over the impact of closing the supermax Tamms prison, the Dwight women's lockup and several juvenile facilities.

Bierig ordered the government and the workers' union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to continue negotiating and reach an agreement on the closure process and its effects within a month.

"The arbitrator stated very clearly that the Quinn administration has violated the union contract with respect to not honoring their obligation to conclude bargaining with the union before implementing a closure and layoff," said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall.

Democrat Quinn wanted to close the prisons and juvenile lockups by Friday. But AFSCME sued and a southern Illinois judge ordered arbitration.

An updated statement from AFSCME: Upon receiving the arbitration award described below, AFSCME Friday afternoon filed suit in Alexander County, asking the judge to declare the award binding, to order the state to comply with the award, and to issue an injunction preventing the state from implementing the closures or transferring inmates in violation of the award. Later, the state filed suit in Cook County seeking to vacate the arbitrator’s award.

Separately, in a status call with Judge Charles Cavaness in Alexander County, the union requested a hearing on its motion seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the state from moving forward to close facilities or transfer inmates. Judge Cavaness scheduled the hearing for Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 9:00 a.m.

UPDATE:   A spokeswoman says Gov. Pat Quinn's office is disappointed by an arbitrator's ruling that his administration must properly negotiate with state workers over the impact of prison closures.

Quinn spokeswoman Kelly Kraft says the state has filed an appeal seeking to vacate the ruling.

Kraft says state officials are committed to closure plans and want to "resolve this matter as quickly as possible.''

The governor has said the state can't afford to continue to operate the facilities.