Lawmakers Try to Force Arbitration with AFSCME
Sunday, February, 21, 2016
Democratic lawmakers in Illinois are attempting to send stalled state employee labor negotiations to arbitration, just a short time after the president delivered a speech emphasizing the need to compromise in issues such as this.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is attempting to take labor negotiations to binding arbitration when contract talks reach an impasse, a move that is aggressively objected to by Democrats on the House Labor and Commerce Committee. Rauner’s administration asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board to determine if discussions with the American Federations of State, County and Municipal Employees union were at an impasse. This would open the door to impose the terms of its last, best, and final offer. AFSCME denied the impasse and said it wanted to continue negotiating.
The recently approved bill is similar to a bill approved by the General Assembly last year that Rauner vetoed. It died when the House failed to override the governor’s veto. This current bill passed by the Labor Committee recently would pertain to any unions still attempting negotiations of contracts with the administration. According to AFSCME there are seven unions that still have no agreement, including the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees International Union, and the unions that represent nurses and laborers, in addition to AFSCME. AFSCME represents nearly 40,000 state employees and is the largest of the unions still lacking a contract.
The bill stipulates union members cannot strike or be locked out during the arbitration process. It is a situation already available to those in public safety jobs who are prohibited from striking. Democrats and union officials believe they are compromising a great deal by giving up their right to strike, but they are not willing to bend on their demands concerning their salary and benefit increases, which will cost the state at least $3 billion.