Labor Board judge's recommendation calls for renewal of state contract negotiations
An administrative law judge of the Illinois Labor Relations Board has dismissed the Rauner Administration’s complaint against AFSCME Council 31 and upheld much of the union’s cross-complaint against the administration.
The ALJ rightly rejected the Rauner Administration’s core contention, finding that the parties are not at impasse on the fundamental issues of wages and health care. She said that the administration has refused to provide information to AFSCME that the union needs to develop proposals and said they must do so. She recommended that the labor board order the state to resume bargaining on these and other issues, and to do so in good faith.
In short, she said that the Rauner Administration should “cease and desist from failing to bargain collectively in good faith with [AFSCME]” and “Upon request, bargain collectively in good faith with the union over the terms of provisions of a successor agreement”. (***see citation below)
“We are pleased that today’s recommendation underlines what AFSCME has been saying all along,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “There is no impasse on key issues, and the parties should get back to the bargaining table to resolve them.”
There are also points on which the union disagrees with the hearing officer’s findings. For example, AFSCME does not believe that the parties are at impasse on subcontracting and other issues. The union will continue to review the recommended decision, which is voluminous and detailed at more than 400 pages long.
“Ever since Governor Rauner’s representatives broke off negotiations with our union back in January and walked away from the bargaining table, AFSCME has repeatedly made clear that we want to reach a fair agreement and we are prepared to do the hard work of compromise to make that possible,” Lynch said.
In contrast, the Rauner Administration for eight months has refused to even meet with the union bargaining committee. Instead Governor Rauner wants the unilateral power to impose his demands, forcing public service workers in state government to work under his unfair terms or go out on strike.
Both parties now have the right to file written “exceptions” on points of disagreement with the recommended decision, as well as replies to the other party’s exceptions. Those filings and the recommended decision all go before the full labor board, which has indicated it could consider them and act on a final decision in November.
“We hope the labor board’s final ruling will affirm the hearing officer’s recommended order to resume negotiations,” Lynch said. “But there is no need to wait—Governor Rauner should direct his representatives back to the bargaining table now, to work with AFSCME and develop a compromise agreement that is fair to all.”
From the recommended decision and order [pages 248-9]:
It is hereby ordered that the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services, its officers and agents shall:
A. Cease and desist from:
1. Failing to bargain collectively in good faith with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Union) by failing to provide requested information; 2. Failing to bargain collectively in good faith with the Union by declaring impasse on packages where the parties are not at impasse; 3. Failing to bargain collectively in good faith with the Union by declaring impasse on packages when the State has failed to provide requested information or failed to provide the Union with a sufficient opportunity to review and respond to the information; and 4. Failing and refusing to bargain collectively in good faith with the Union, in any like or related manner, interfering with, restraining or coercing its employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed them in the Act; …
B. Take the following affirmative actions designed to effectuate the policies of the Act:
1. As soon as practicable, provide the Union with the following information… 2. Upon request, bargain collectively in good faith with the Union over the terms of provisions of a successor agreement.