Governor Bruce Rauner (R-IL) has taken the next step in determining whether the state and AFSCME union are at an impasse in contract negotiations which have gone on for a year by appealing to the Labor Board.
Should the board determine the state and union are at an impasse in negotiations, the Governor may be able to impose his last, best offer, potentially laying the groundwork for a strike. However, there can be no strike until and unless the Labor Board does declare negotiations are at an impasse.
The Governor says he has no other choice after 24 bargaining sessions he says have produced little progress. He issued a statement saying, “While we have reached innovative and fair contracts with most unions and seen those contracts approved overwhelmingly by union members, AFSCME leadership unfortunately refuses to budge or offer reasonable proposals. We want to reach an agreement with AFSCME members, but their leaders have proven unwilling.”
His letter sent to state employees explaining his decision can be read here.
AFSCME, however, says the Governor has walked away from negotiations prematurely after not getting the concessions he wants.
AFSCME executive director Roberta Lynch said in a statement on Friday, “In reality, there is no impasse between our union and the Rauner Administration. Until the final minutes of today’s meeting, both parties continued to exchange proposals on many issues. There has been no hint that the administration would simply refuse to continue to negotiate. If they will not return to the table, our union will take legal action. It is a violation of state labor law for a party to declare impasse where none exists.”
Wage hikes and health care costs appear to be the major sticking points in the negotiations.