Rauner seeks quicker resolution of AFSCME impasse decision
AFSCME’s obstruction of a contract for state workers costs taxpayers approximately $35 million to $40 million a month in healthcare costs alone. Gov. Bruce Rauner is seeking a direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court to bring relief to taxpayers burdened by AFSCME’s stall tactics.
Illinois’ largest government worker union’s stall tactics are costing taxpayers millions of dollars each month. Those burdensome costs led Gov. Bruce Rauner to file a motion asking the Illinois Supreme Court to more quickly determine whether the state and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are at impasse in their negotiations over a new contract.
The state labor board determined in November 2016 that contract negotiations between the state and AFSCME were at impasse, or deadlock. That meant the governor could implement his last, best offer to the union.
But instead, AFSCME ran to multiple state courts, seeking a decision that would overturn the labor board’s impasse determination. The case currently sits before the Fourth District Appellate Court, and it could be months before that court decides whether the parties are at impasse.
In the meantime, the court has stayed the labor board’s decision, meaning the governor cannot implement his contract offer. This means the state is forced to continue paying AFSCME workers under the terms of the expired contract, which includes monthly health care costs $35 million to $40 million higher than under the state’s proposed contract.
Seeking a more timely resolution, Rauner filed a motion requesting a direct appeal to the state supreme court. Instead of waiting for the Fourth District to issue an opinion, the case would be transferred immediately to the state’s highest court.
A quicker resolution of the appeals process could potentially save the state millions of dollars and put an end to the union’s stall tactics.
A more timely decision would save millions of dollars
The longer it takes for AFSCME’s claims to work through the courts, the more costly it is for taxpayers.
For each month the governor is prevented from implementing his contract offer, Illinois is paying an additional $35 million to $40 million in health coverage alone. Over the course of the more than 20 months the state has been without a contract, that’s $700 million to $800 million.
In its motion to the Illinois Supreme Court, the state estimated it could take six months – or more – before the Fourth District decides whether to uphold the labor board’s impasse decision. That’s an additional $210 million to $240 million.
Both parties know the Fourth District decision ultimately will be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court anyway. The state’s motion asks the court to utilize a rule that allows a direct appeal to the state supreme court when public interest requires prompt adjudication of an issue.
AFSCME’s stall tactics must be stopped
Obstructionist tactics were the theme of AFSCME’s “negotiating” strategy. According to an administrative law judge with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, AFSCME’s approach to negotiations was “atypical.” She added, “… the [u]nion’s conduct calls into question its commitment to reaching an agreement through bargaining.”
Throughout negotiations, Rauner attempted to bring union costs more in line with what Illinoisans can afford. But AFSCME refused to compromise and instead continued to demand wage and benefit increases that would cost the state an additional $3 billion.
Despite the fact both parties know the state supreme court will ultimately decide the case, AFSCME doesn’t want the Illinois Supreme Court to grant the governor’s motion.
AFSCME’s stance is simply the latest attempt to draw things out, to the detriment of Illinois taxpayers.