Rauner still spending tax dollars to delay AFSCME contract

OUTGOING Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, roundly defeated in his re-election bid, can’t let go of his hatred of unionized state employees and has spent more than $6 million on union-busting lawyers to delay a contract with AFSCME Council 31.

Springfield, IL – Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, soundly defeated for re-election but still in office, continues playing anti-union games despite court rulings against him. He has now spent $6 million on anti-union lawyers and the tab keeps running.

An appellate court ruled in October that Rauner’s Illinois State Labor Relations Board was wrong in supporting his declaration of impasse in contract negotiations with AFSCME Council 31. But Rauner is using a high-priced private law firm to fight the ruling and further delay negotiations.

The latest maneuver came on Nov. 27, when Rauner requested another 60 days to appeal the appellate ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court. It’s now up to AFCSME to respond.

“Rauner’s ongoing delay tactics and refusal to accept legal findings make clear that he’s never had any intention of bargaining in good faith with state workers,” the union said in a news release. “What’s certain is that Rauner’s $6 million meter – counting the public dollars he’s wasted on costly lawyers – will keep ticking even higher.”

The Oct. 23 ruling, by the 4th District Appellate Court, vacated the labor board’s finding of impasse and sent the case back to the board. It dates back to Rauner’s claiming impasse in January, 2016. The AFSCME contract expired at the end of June, 2015.


AFSCME says there never was an impasse – only that Rauner failed to provide AFSCME with pertinent information. The judges agreed.

“Parties may not claim a lawful impasse if they have failed to provide information considered relevant to those issues upon which they disagree because this effectively frustrates the bargaining process,” they wrote in the October decision.

Rauner demanded no pay raises for four years, a doubling of employee health care costs, and freedom to privatize public services without oversight. He was seeking authority from the Labor Relations Board to impose the terms unilaterally.

Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker said he will restart the negotiations after he takes office Jan. 14. “J.B. looks forward to both representing the interests of taxpayers and negotiating with AFSCME in good faith,” said his spokeswoman, Jordan Abudayyeh. “J.B. believes in bringing fiscal stability back to the state of Illinois and in the collective bargaining process that supports working men and women.”


The state still owes workers for agreed-to step increases that the Legislature has not appropriated funding to pay.

Dan Hynes, the former state comptroller who now heads Pritzker’s transition team for budget issues, acknowledged the need to resolve the AFSCME issues.

“The contract negotiations with AFSCME need to take place,” he said, “and we’re going to have to come to resolution there, and there are going to be some costs associated with that.”

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said the union expects a better relationship with Pritzker.

“Unlike Rauner, J.B. Pritzker has made clear that he values the services public employees provide, he understands that working people need strong unions to have a voice and improve their lives, and he respects the collective bargaining process,” Lindall said. “Certainly we will have our differences, as we do with any governor or other employer, but we can address them when both parties work together in good faith.”

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