Springfield, IL – Think appellate courts don’t matter? Check this out. An appellate court has ruled the Illinois Labor Relations Board was wrong in supporting Governor Bruce Rauner’s claim of an impasse in contract negotiations with AFSCME Council 31.
The case now goes back to the board for consideration.
“Today the court backs up what we’ve said all along – that there never was an impasse,” Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “The Rauner administration should immediately come back to the bargaining table with our union instead of wasting more taxpayer money on losing litigation.”
The case started when Rauner made extreme demands in bargaining, including no raises for state workers for four years, a 100 percent increase in employee health care costs and a free hand in privatizing public services without oversight.
Rauner then walked away from the negotiations on Jan. 8, 2016, declaring the parties were at impasse and asking the Labor board – whose members Rauner appoints – to give him the power to unilaterally impose terms.
AFSCME strongly disputed that the parties were at impasse and repeatedly sought to restart good-faith negotiations.
The three-judge appellate panel ruled unanimously last month that the board was “clearly erroneous” in backing Rauner’s claim of an impasse, that it departed from its usual practice in determining impasse and that it offered no explanation. The judges vacated the board’s finding of impasse and remanded the case to the board.
Lynch said it’s typical of Rauner and his appointees.
“Refusing to negotiate in good faith and trying to impose his extreme demands are part of a pattern of behavior for Bruce Rauner,” she said. “Instead of doing his job as governor, his overriding goal has been to weaken unions, especially those in the public service.”
The court also found that the Rauner administration violated labor law by failing to provide AFSCME with information it requested for the bargaining. The judges said parties may not claim impasse if they have failed to provide relevant information.