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Another potential crisis is on the judicial back burner

Monday, Sep 18, 2017

* Finke writes about the AFSCME court case

If you remember way back to spring, the courts blocked the [Rauner] administration from imposing its contract terms on AFSCME until there was a decision on whether an impasse did indeed exist between the union and the state on a new contract. The state says there is an impasse, which would mean it can impose its contract terms. AFSCME says there isn’t one.

The state wanted the Illinois Supreme Court to immediately take up the case last spring, but it refused. The high court said it had to go to the appeals court first.

Oral arguments in the case were originally scheduled for August. However, over the summer the appeals court granted extensions so that both sides could file additional paperwork and replies to paperwork. Given the latest schedule for filing stuff, AFSCME doesn’t think oral arguments will happen until early next year.

That’s just the arguments part of this. Then the court will still have to render its opinion. And it’s pretty much a given that whichever side loses in the appellate court will take it to the state Supreme Court. That process will presumably take several more months.

So, this might possibly wind up being decided after the next election.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Seats - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 9:41 am:

    Would be strange if this ended up getting a ruling after the general election but before a new Governor can potentially take office.

  2. - Honeybear - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:05 am:

    I’m so glad to hear this.
    But how pathetic that I just spent half an hour trying to figure out how this could go wrong and AFSCME could get shafted.
    I guess it does make sense that Rauner would hit us hardest after Janus vs AFSCME but still
    I’ve been forced into such a state of paranoia
    I have trouble believing good news
    Is Finke a Rauner apologeticist?
    Or do the wise folks here think this is true?
    OW is this a trick?

  3. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:06 am:

    See, folks, what happens when governors are radical like Rauner? He could have had a contract and concessions from state workers that would already be saving the state money.

    This shows Rauner doesn’t want to save the state money. That’s small potatoes to him. He wants to break apart the left and Democrats, debt be darned.

    That’s a terrible governor and boss. It took the Superstars/IPI fiasco to show people what a bad boss Rauner is. Others have seen it very early on, when, for one, he filed an EO to strip fair share fees on the first day of AFSCME contract negotiations.

  4. - DuPage - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:07 am:

    Rauner has not seriously negotiated, probably never will. The best thing would be to decide after the next election.

  5. - Honeybear - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:12 am:

    Could the 4th District hear something and rule quickly?
    December is still the time of maximum advantage for Rauner.
    Rauner fought like a maniac to get it to the 4th District

  6. - Ghost - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:17 am:

    May you live in interesting times

  7. - Ghost - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:19 am:

    Honeybees only if they order an expedited schedule but yes they can

  8. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:31 am:

    Hopefully after the next election we’ll have a reasonable governor who’s willing to negotiate a reasonable contract with AFSCME making the pending judicial rulings moot.

  9. - Rufus - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:42 am:

    You could say by not negotiating he saved the state the cost of employee’s raises for the four years. No one wins.

  10. - Nick Name - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    “You could say by not negotiating he saved the state the cost of employee’s raises for the four years.”

    All of which will have to be paid once there’s a contract. With interest. Some savings.

  11. - Anon - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:59 am:

    Nick Name, are you sure about that? I pretty much wrote off my four missed step increases figuring they won’t be part of any new contract. But it’d be a nice surprise if they were.

  12. - Norseman - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:02 am:

    Hopefully, the election will make the issue moot.

  13. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    “You could say by not negotiating he saved the state the cost of employee’s raises for the four years.”

    But not with health insurance. That’s one key place where savings could be found, and where Rauner could have had concessions from state workers.

    Rauner might lose the pending court case on the step increases he denied under the tolling agreement, so those savings could be ultimately lost.

    I’m not of the belief that it will benefit Rauner to have a labor war with AFSCME in the thick of a reelection campaign. Republican gubernatorial candidates seem to keep those things under wraps during campaigns, like Rauner did in 2014. Does he want a riled-up state workforce with extra motivation to vote, and other unions and allies jumping in even harder?

  14. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:11 am:

    HB, there is a legal process this has to follow. Take a breath and be happy about it. A gummed-up court system is the only thing saving us from complete decimation.

  15. - VanillaMan - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:11 am:

    Would anyone really be surprised if Rauner deliberately made this an issue? The man can’t be quiet about his magnificent obsession.

  16. - Nick Name - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:17 am:

    “Nick Name, are you sure about that? I pretty much wrote off my four missed step increases figuring they won’t be part of any new contract. But it’d be a nice surprise if they were.”

    I guess it’s up to the bargaining committee. But I can’t see them not insisting on back pay for the missed steps.

  17. - Texas Red - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    By the time the Illinois courts make a decision on the impass case, there will be a very new national landscape for gov’t employees. Janus V AFSCME will likely be decided by the time Illinois is done slow walking this case. Assuming SCOTUS hears the case, Gorsuch will be the deciding factor in a ruling against the union. Resulting in millions of government workers nationwide, who previously had been forced to give up part of their salaries to unions they do not support, no longer having to if they do not want.

  18. - Chicagonk - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:51 am:

    Such a slow process. I’d love to see courts actually hold both sides to deadlines rather than allow extension after extension.

  19. - Nick Name - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:51 am:

    “who previously had been forced to give up part of their salaries to unions they do not support,”

    I’m sure they’re crying all the way to the bank, being paid union scale without having to pay dues. Poor sots.

  20. - Union proud - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:51 am:

    “I guess it’s up to the bargaining committee. But I can’t see them not insisting on back pay for the missed steps.”

    No the courts have ruled its up to the GA to actually budget the back pay in. I expect the best we could get is to ask a new administration that everyone be brought to their proper step going forward. But I wouldn’t bank on any back pay. Look how long people have been waiting on the last back pay case from 2011.

  21. - AC - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 12:23 pm:

    There’s a small chance Neil Gorsuch doesn’t find in favor of Janus due to stare decisis and might even view fair share as a states rights issue. Aside from being slow, courts aren’t always predictable, this is true of the impasse case as well.

  22. - Former Hillrod - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 1:33 pm:

    Any thoughts on the following scenario? Rauner looses his re-election bid next November. The IL Supreme Court rules there is no impasse. Does Rauner impose the last best offer as a parting shot to afscme?

  23. - Anon - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 1:38 pm:

    1.) From what I understand, It’s Rauner’s folks pushing for the extensions.

    2.) By default, we’re looking at several years where state workers aren’t getting negotiated raises or the satisfactory performance increases in Title 80 (different lawsuit).

    3.) Short term win — but the state is probably going to own money for the back pay for the satisfactory performance increases, the next round of negotiations are going to be impacted by the absolute lack of any adjustment to the cost of living, so that’s going to be a problem in the long run.

    4.) A lot of state employees are nearing retirement, there are new lowers steps for entry level workers which haven’t seen recent raises, there’s also poor recruiting, poor pay, and poor benefits compared to a lot of private sector gigs that require similar education, especially in the Chicago area, and that’s before considering the Tier 2 and Tier 3 pensions being about as little of an incentive as they can be.

    After all of this budget crisis stuff — Illinois is going to have a shortfall in staff capable of carrying out the state’s business competently.

    You get what you pay for, and the labor market is as much of a market as any thing else.

  24. - Former Hillrod - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    My apologies. I meant to say the IL Supreme Court rules there IS impasse.

  25. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 4:35 pm:

    So, Rauner gets the 4-year wage freeze he wanted after all. Bi can’t shake the feeling hat he played AFSCME into signing that tolling agreement in June 2015. I wonder what would’ve happened if we went on strike then.

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