“Never say ‘impasse’,” our IEA Uniserv Director always warned us when we bargained with our school board.
He said it so often that we would joke about it.
During breaks, mostly after hours and hours of bargaining, acting goofy from too much pizza, candy bars and bad coffee, someone might silently mouth the word. Or say, “in pass,” or “imp ass.”
Our UD didn’t find it funny.
But it’s not really funny. That is because the way collective bargaining rules are set up – a way that not surprisingly favors management – the bosses can make a “last, best and final offer.” Then bargaining ends and the union can take it or leave it.
That is an impasse.
Last year Governor Rauner vetoed a bill that would have essentially prevented him from creating an impasse in his negotiations with AFSCME which represents state workers.
Madigan’s Democrats could not organize their members, which should have been a veto proof majority, to override the veto.
Yesterday the Illinois Labor Relations Board ruled that an impasse exists. AFSCME, concerned about both their members and the citizens of Illinois who they serve, want to continue to bargain and not strike.
Rauner’s last, best and final offer to the 38,000 state workers includes a four-year wage freeze and a 100 percent increase in employee health insurance costs.
The ruling rejects recommendations by an administrative law judge in September who said an impasse existed on some contract issues – including privatization – but not on the issues of a pay increase or health insurance benefits. She recommended the two sides return to the bargaining table on those. She found the administration did not provide information to the union, such as savings from changes to health care, that the union needed for bargaining.
“If the state were able to implement its entire last, best and final offer, the implications and impact would be so enormous that, when applied to this case, it would be destructive of the collective bargaining process and not serve the statutory mission of the board,” Sarah Kerley wrote in her recommendation to the labor board.
The ruling fires a bullet into the heart of collective bargaining.
AFSCME says they will appeal the ruling.