A circuit court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) issued Dec. 6 will halt the Rauner administration’s attempts to unilaterally impose its contract terms on state employees for now.
AFSCME requested the TRO because Governor Rauner was moving to impose his demands even before the Labor Board had issued a formal, written finding of impasse between the parties.
Although the Board’s written decision was issued while the TRO request was pending, the judge found that “by implementing new terms and conditions of employment without notice to and the agreement of the union”, the Rauner administration “has violated that Tolling Agreement” that extends the terms of the current contract.
Under the TRO, the administration must honor the tolling agreement and rescind any changes it has made, at least until a hearing now set for January 13 (possibly sooner).
“Although temporary, this order sends a message to Governor Rauner that he is not above the law,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “Instead of sparking further conflict in the courts and at state worksites, Governor Rauner should return to bargaining and work with us to find common ground.”
Rauner’s demands include a 100% increase in employee costs for health care, a four-year pay freeze, and a blank check to outsource public services for private profit. The governor has refused to negotiate with AFSCME ever since the administration broke off talks and walked away back in January.
The Rauner-appointed Labor Board’s impasse decision threw out the recommendations of the administrative law judge who presided over two months of hearings in the case. The ALJ had found no impasse on major issues such as wages and health care, and had said Rauner should be ordered to return to bargaining.
AFSCME has appealed the Labor Board decision in Cook County appellate court. The union will request a stay to prevent Rauner from imposing his terms during the appeal process.