Gov. Bruce Rauner says his team is trying to assess its options after an apparent breakdown in talks with AFSCME last week. The union is bargaining on behalf of 36 thousand state workers for a new contract.
There's an impasse over whether there's an impasse. In this case, that's not just a synonym for "not going well." It's a high-stakes legal term, that basically signals the gulf that divides the two sides is so wide it can't be bridged, so there's no point to negotiating further.
Rauner says after a year and 67 bargaining sessions, he's seen no progress with AFSCME.
"Our team just asked 'em: So do you think we're at impasse. I'm not sure, I think the union said they don't believe we are," Rauner said Tuesday in an interview with Illinois Public Radio. "So our team is just trying to assess, where do we go from here? We're spinning our wheels right now and making no progress."
AFSMCE spokesman Anders Lindall has a different take on how things went down. He says AFSCME leaders were stunned by the impasse offer, because the union made a big new offer of its own, to accept Rauner's wage terms for one year, and to pay more (though not as much as Rauner wants) for their health insurance.
"It is too reminiscent of the lack of a process that's left us without a budget. It's Rauner's way or no way," Lindall said. He says no future meetings are scheduled.