Labor Board Declares Illinois Contract Talks At ‘Impasse’

 
In this June 9, 2015 photo, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees protest in Chicago.

In this June 9, 2015 photo, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees protest in Chicago.

Christian K. Lee/Associated Press

The Illinois Labor Relations Board has declared contract negotiations between Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration and the largest public-employees union at an impasse. Tuesday's decision allows the Republican governor to impose his terms on the 38,000-member state council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. That gives the union the opportunity to accept the terms or vote to go on strike.

Either side may appeal in court. The last contract expired in June 2015 and Rauner broke negotiations in January.

AFSCME claims its members are still willing to talk but that Rauner's terms are "extreme'' - including a steep increase in health insurance costs while freezing wages for four years.

The union's Anders Lindall says the union is still willing to negotiate, and it’s disappointed with the board’s decision.

"We think that a strike would be harmful to the people of Illinois," he said. "And Governor Rauner’s path of chaos and confrontation is not in the public interest."

Rauner issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“Today’s decision is fair for taxpayers and state employees," he said. "As a result of this agreed-to process, the state can now implement its contract, saving the taxpayers more than $3 billion over four years.

“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."

Story source: AP