January 24, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Spriingfield, IL- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has asked the state Labor Relations Board to determine whether contract talks with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 have reached an impasse.
If the board finds that they have—a decision that could take months—the governor could then impose his contract demands on the union, which represents about 38,000 state workers. Rauner, who has been demanding a four-year wage freeze and higher health-insurance payments, charged that AFSCME "refused to seriously negotiate for the 24th bargaining session in a row.” Council 31 director Roberta Lynch said in a statement Jan. 15 that the governor had made “more than 200 extreme demands” during the year of talks and that “his ‘my way or no way’ demands of state employees are the obstacle to a fair agreement.” Those demands, she added, “would force workers and their families pay double to keep their health care—making the Illinois state health plan the nation’s worst for any state workforce” and “base bonuses on unknown criteria open to political favoritism.” While running for governor in 2014, Rauner said he would be willing to “take a strike and shut down the government for a few weeks” to win concessions from unionized state workers. Read more