Rauner Declares Impasse with State Employee Union

Date: January 15, 2016 Last Edit: January 19, 2016

After months of negotiations, and 24 separate bargaining sessions, Gov. Bruce Rauner declared his administration is at an impasse with the state government employees union.
The governor has accused the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees of not bargaining in good faith, pointing to several others unions that he has reached agreement with who have been more reasonable.
The next step is for the Illinois Labor Relations Board to determine whether or not the parties are truly at an impasse. If the board does determine they are at an impasse, then union members have to vote to either accept the governor’s last contract offer or vote to strike.
“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,” Rauner said.

“Instead of acting reasonable like the state’s other union leaders, AFSCME bosses have said no to merit bonuses, they’ve said no to programs to help minority employees, and they’ve said a 40-hour work week is too long,” he said. “At a time of unprecedented fiscal crisis, AFSCME is pushing insurance and wage demands that would cost taxpayers more than $3 billion. As a result, we are asking the Labor Board to determine the next steps in the negotiating process.”

According to the governor’s office, the union has rejected the administration’s proposals in variety of areas despite the fact they are similar to ones welcomed by the five Teamsters and 12 other trade union bargaining units. Those issues are:
•The state employee union vehemently rejected the administration’s proposal that would maintain a 37.5-hour work week, but have overtime rate wages kick in only after completing a 40-hour work week. The union rejected this offer despite the fact it is more generous than the 40-hour work week the Teamsters and trade unions ratified. Instead, the state employee union wants to only work 37.5 hours per week and immediately get paid overtime wages for any minute worked over 37.5 hours. They are also demanding double pay for regular holidays and even 2.5x pay for some “super holidays.”
•The union vehemently rejected the administration’s proposal to make it easier to promote minority employees. Other unions welcomed efforts to promote minority employees.
•The state employee union also rejected a health insurance proposal that closely mirrors insurance proposals agreed to by the trade unions. Instead, the union is demanding insurance that is considered platinum-plus under the Affordable Care Act. They are also demanding taxpayers subsidize over 80 percent of the cost of these platinum level plans, which is asking to pay silver-level premiums for a platinum-plus plan. Additionally, while the Teamsters agreed to maintain their current wages for the next four years, the state employee union is demanding wage increases that would cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion over the next four years. These demands come after many union members have already seen their salaries double since 2004. Illinois employees are now the third-highest paid in the nation – behind California and New Jersey – and the highest after adjusting for the higher cost of living in those states. Altogether, the union’s wage and insurance demands would cost taxpayers over $3 billion.
The labor board must now determine whether the administration and the state employee union are at an impasse. During this time, the parties must adhere to all statutory obligations regarding good faith negotiations while the Board is deciding the case. Quoting from the tolling agreement, this specifically means there can be no “strike, work stoppage, work slowdown, or lockout” until the board has determined that the parties are at an impasse. 

Related Content: Small Business News | Illinois | Labor

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