Rauner, AFSCME bicker over stalled contract negotiations

Jan 19, 2016

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union leaders say more confusion is on the way because of Gov. Bruce Rauner's recent announcement that he's stalling negotiations. The union's been bargaining on behalf of 36,000 workers.

Credit afscme31.org

  Illinois has been without a budget since July. That's also when AFSCME's last contract with the state ended. The impact of both has been dulled for state employees though; a court order means they haven't missed a paycheck. AFSCME and the Rauner administration also agreed to keep the terms of the last contract in place while they tried to draft a new one.

The head of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Dan Montgomery, said Rauner's actions are ratcheting up the level of discord.

"In the workplace and just in the state in general, what people want is some kind of agreement and they want to get things done," he said. "We're in a state right now without this budget where the people are very unsettled and it's not a good time in Illinois."

Rauner supporters accuse AFSCME of purposefully slowing down talks. They say it was in AFSCME's best interest to draw things out, because its members were getting such a good deal under the last contract.

Republican leaders are sticking with the governor. The top Republican in the Senate, Christine Radogno, pointed out that the administration has succeeded in reaching agreements with 17 other unions. She said that shows the governor can compromise with labor.