Governor asks Labor Relations Board to determine if AFSCME impasse exists

Since taking office in January 2015, the Rauner Administration has succeeded in writing new labor contracts with a wide variety of labor unions that represent many difference facets of the State workforce. 17 labor bargaining units, organized within 13 separate trade unions, have agreed to fair, reasonable contracts with the State of Illinois. However, no contract has been reached with AFSCME, which represents 30,000 state employees. On Friday, January 15, the Governor announced that his office will ask the State’s labor-management oversight panel, the Labor Relations Board, to examine the state of the negotiations between the State and AFSCME to determine if these talks have reached a point of impasse.

The determination of an impasse, if it is reached, will be legally significant because it will move relations between the State and AFSCME to a different level from where these relations are right now. Currently, based on mutual pledges by both sides, both the State and its largest union have agreed to continue their relations in the absence of a contract, and AFSCME state employees continue to show up for work and be paid.

Under the terms of the signed tolling agreement, the Labor Relations Board must now determine whether the State and AFSCME are at an impasse. During this time, the parties must adhere to all statutory obligations regarding good faith negotiations while the Labor Relations Board is deciding the case. Quoting from the tolling agreement, this specifically means there can be no “strike, work stoppage, work slowdown or lockout” until the Board has determined that the parties are at an impasse. According to the Rauner Administration, it is hard to predict how long the Board would take to rule. It may be months before a final decision is rendered.