By Tina Sfondeles, Chicago SunTimes
[Illinois] Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration on Thursday filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union representing 38,000 state employees, seeking a whopping $2 million in damages a day as the two sides remain at odds.
The union shot back that the filing is a “disgraceful attempt to intimidate union members from exercising their legal rights” and blamed the litigation and “the threat of a disruptive strike” on Rauner.
The governor’s administration says the contract implementation delay by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 is costing the state $2 million in taxpayer money.
“Continuing to stall, instead of working with us to implement our last, best and final offer that is substantially similar to the contracts agreed to by 18 other unions, only costs taxpayers more money — approximately $2 million every day this drags on,” Rauner’s general counsel Dennis Murashko said in a statement. “As a result, today our administration filed an unfair labor practice against AFSCME Council 31 and is seeking damages for the $2 million each day we are prevented from implementing a contract that is fair to taxpayers and employees alike.”
On Thursday, the union said the governor is trying to “dictate not negotiate.”
“The real waste of taxpayer money is Governor Rauner’s stubborn refusal to negotiate with our union for nearly a year,” AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said.
Lindall urged Rauner to come back to the bargaining table in good faith to reach an agreement. “If he refuses to do so, any resulting litigation and the threat of a disruptive strike are Bruce Rauner’s fault alone,” Lindall said.
The Illinois Labor Relations Board declared an impasse in November, essentially leaving the union with three choices: accepting Rauner’s final offer, calling a strike or hoping the board’s decision will be overturned on appeal.
Talks have been testy since February 2015 and the two sides have shared 67 negotiating sessions.
Administration officials say AFSCME rejected proposals on overtime after 40 hours and on allowing volunteers to handle some of workers’ duties. The union says they’d have to pay 100 percent more in health care in the first year of the contract, and a 10 percent per year increase. There are also no pay increases over the four-year term of the contract.