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Appellate court vacates ILRB ruling that AFSCME contract negotiations were at impasse

Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018

* AFSCME Council 31 press release…

The Illinois State Labor Relations Board was “clearly erroneous” on several points when it backed Governor Bruce Rauner’s January 2016 claim of an impasse in negotiations between the Rauner administration and AFSCME Council 31—the largest union representing frontline state employees—a unanimous three-judge panel of the Fourth District Appellate Court ruled today.

The appellate court vacated the labor board’s finding of impasse and remanded the case to the board.

“Refusing to negotiate in good faith and trying to impose his extreme demands are part of a pattern of behavior for Bruce Rauner. Instead of doing his job as governor, his overriding goal has been to weaken unions, especially those in the public service,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “Today the court backs up what we’ve said all along, there never was an impasse. The Rauner administration should immediately come back to the bargaining table with our union instead of wasting more taxpayer money on losing litigation.”

The labor board was wrong to depart from its usual practice in determining the question of impasse and to do so without offering any explanation, the appellate panel found.

If the labor board had followed precedent of the past 30 years, “the parties would not be at overall impasse”, the judges wrote. Thus, “the ILRB’s conclusion … was in error.”

The court also found that the Rauner administration violated labor law by failing to provide AFSCME with information it requested pertaining to subjects of bargaining. “[P]arties may not claim a lawful impasse if they have failed to provide information considered relevant to those issues upon which they disagree because this effectively frustrates the bargaining process,” the judges wrote.

The case stems from contract negotiations between the Rauner administration and the union in which Rauner made an array of extreme demands, including no pay increase for state workers for four years, a 100% hike in employee costs for health care that would cost the average worker thousands of dollars a year, and a free hand to privatize public services without oversight.

The Rauner administration walked away from negotiations on Jan. 8, 2016, declaring that the two parties were at impasse and asking the labor board—whose members Rauner appoints—to give it the power to unilaterally impose the terms of its final offer.

AFSCME strongly disputed that the parties were at impasse and repeatedly sought to restart good-faith negotiations.

The union appealed the board decision to the appellate court, which ruled for AFSCME today.

Today’s ruling follows a unanimous November 2017 decision from the Fifth District Appellate Court which found that Rauner broke the law by blocking pay plan progression for the newest-hired state workers since July 2015. The Rauner administration has still not complied with that ruling.

* From the ruling

When CMS declared impasse, AFSCME representatives disagreed and reiterated many times the parties were not at an impasse. The Union was described in both sets of notes as aying it was “shocked and appalled” and had, or was working on, counters in those areas of alleged impasse. The Union went on to say that, earlier that day, it had accepted the State’s $1000 bonus proposal in the “Wages and Steps” package. In both sets of notes, the Union stated at least three times it did not believe the parties were at impasse and it was not done bargaining. This is of particular significance since in most instances where the NLRB has chosen to utilize the “single critical issue impasse test,” both parties have acknowledged their belief they were truly at impasse. Such is not the case here. Moreover, at no point in the negotiations, prior to declaring impasse, did CMS state it was near its bottom line. “The failure of a party to communicate to the other party the paramount importance of the proposals presented at the bargaining table or to explain that a failure to achieve concessions would result in a bargaining deadlock evidences the absence of a valid impasse.” Virginia Holding Corp., 293 N.L.R.B. 182, 183 (1989). For these and other reasons expressed herein, we do not believe the record adequately supports a finding of impasse.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - El Conquistador - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 4:59 pm:

    Surprise… surprise… surprise…

  2. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:09 pm:

    The stay found flaws in the impasse, so this is not surprising.

    Another not so fine mess Rauner made. He could have remained at the bargaining table and got a deal, but now he loses this case and owes state employees hundreds of millions of dollars in step increases, including interest.

  3. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:09 pm:

    Rauner is having a bad day.

  4. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:10 pm:


  5. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:16 pm:

    ===Rauner is having a bad day.===

    Rauner’s Red Sox are in the World Series tonight…

    To the Post,

    Rauner shoulda left the trades alone and worked other angles to get compromise and part of his anti-labor agenda.

    This specifically, it highlights how Rauner is so terribly anti-labor, here’s another windmill he’s trying to tilt… to win.

  6. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:17 pm:

    Wasn’t the Fourth District supposed to be the favorable District? Oops.

  7. - Galena Guy - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:20 pm:

    Sadly Rauner himself doesn’t himself owe hundreds of millions, though we all wish it were so. His pig headedness, hubris, and incompetence has caused the state to owe the money. Can anyone say “dine & dash”, so to speak.

  8. - Fixer - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:23 pm:

    Well, there goes his argument on the difficulty of calculating a set of back wages from date of impasse. Should knock a few weeks off that timeline.

  9. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:30 pm:

    === ===Rauner is having a bad day.===

    Rauner’s Red Sox are in the World Series tonight…===

    May he find little solace there.

  10. - The Dude - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:35 pm:

    Just another example of how awful Rauner is. Worst part is he goes after the youngest newest workers when he stopped the step raises. He can go to Italy now.

  11. - RNUG - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:45 pm:

    When you can’t win with a somewhat stacked deck … you have a really weak hand.

    All Rauner has left is to delay this out of spite until he is out of office … and leave his successor deal with the mess.

  12. - RNUG - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:47 pm:

    == Rauner’s Red Sox are in the World Series tonight… ==

    And I’ll be cheering for the Red Sox since Mrs RNUG is a former Bostonian …

  13. - Oberon - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:51 pm:

    Back to the bargaining table? Why? Any contract with Rauner will expire June 30, 2019. Sadly, he’s managed to freeze state worker pay for nearly an entire term…unlawfully. How can anyone imagine he will engage in good-faith bargaining at this point? Wait for the next guy.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:52 pm:

    ===I’ll be cheering for the Red Sox since Mrs RNUG is a former Bostonian …===

    One of my favorite towns, and I like this ball club.

    Pains me…

  15. - Bobby T - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:54 pm:

    Rauner won’t find himself in prison, but between today’s repugnant ad and this ruling in favor of AFSCME — he’ll surely — surely — go down as one of Illinois’ worst governors.

    He thought he was Scott Walker. He thought he could do what he wanted, whenever he wanted — to any state employee. Well, surprise, Bruce.

    I want my step increase plus interest. And I want it ASAP.

  16. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 5:59 pm:

    Isn’t there a provision in the Act that any CBA cannot last more than six months into the next gubernatorial term? Because you don’t want to tie the hands of the successor?

  17. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:00 pm:

    I have a feeling he’s not going to get the Thompson Center sold either lol.

  18. - Real - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:07 pm:

    Rauner shoulda left the trades alone and worked other angles to get compromise and part of his anti-labor agenda.

    -Please do not give wicked men any ideas on how to be more crafty in hurting others.

  19. - Bobby T - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:07 pm:

    Well, I hope Bruce Rauner puts on one of his vests tonight (along with his so-not-fashionable Haggar slacks) and goes out for a beer.

    He’s gonna need it. This will infuriate AFSCME members — and rightfully so.

    What an utter, utter, utter waste.

  20. - Real - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:19 pm:

    What everyone is overlooking is the fact that this ruling and the other ruling affirms that we need a new Illinois Labor Relations Board.. becsuse apparently the current one has a conflict of interest.

  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:20 pm:

    UNIONSTRONG. Vote Rauner Out

  22. - DuPage Dave - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:24 pm:

    I’m no fan of AFSCME for lots of reasons, but I’m with them on this dispute. Rauner has shown nothing but contempt for collective bargaining, as he has for state government in general, since Day 1. You can’t refuse to negotiate with the party you are legally required to negotiate with, and then declare an impasse. Glad to see this upheld by the court.

  23. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:41 pm:

    If you are curious, these are the illustrious board members who chose not to apply the established test (which would have resulted in a finding of no impasse) without explanation. Click on names for bios.

  24. - Sue - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:41 pm:

    And now JB will be able to further bankrupt us all by paying back his union supporters with a big FAT contract

  25. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:52 pm:

    ===And now JB will be able to further bankrupt us all by paying back his union supporters with a big FAT contract===

    As opposed Rauner’s criminal neglect and mismanagement that put the state in the position of having to come up with tens of millions in back pay from lost steps and interest that AFSCME members are owed.

    People like you will keep shifting blame to Pritzker for having to make tough choices to clean up the mess that Rauner will leave behind.

  26. - Real - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:53 pm:

    What’s messed up is governor’s should not be authorized to appoint anyone to the ILRB. This should be an elected board.

  27. - Mr.Black - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:54 pm:

    -Sue, if you’re concerned about fiscal responsibility, do you have anything to say about the $1 billion in penalty interest due to Rauner’s budget impasse?

  28. - El Conquistador - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:56 pm:

    Given the obvious inappropriate influence Rauner had on the ILRB, shouldn’t there be an ethics investigation?

  29. - Real - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:57 pm:

    Now the new general assembly and new governor should change the laws to prevent governor’s from appointing there own ILRB. The conflict of interest of the current board caused many of it’s decisions to be overturned by appelate court and the waste of millions in tax payer dollars.. All because they had a conflict of interest aka corruption in allying with the current governor.

  30. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:01 pm:

    What a clever pun, Sue.

  31. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:02 pm:

    What are the salaries for Board members?

  32. - BigD - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:06 pm:

    When the new admin gets in they need to try and pass an arbitration bill so this does not happen again.

  33. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:09 pm:

    Between $94k and $104k.

  34. - Duopoly - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:16 pm:

    =Wasn’t the Fourth District supposed to be the favorable District? Oops.=

    The Fourth District is incredibly favorable to the state against individual employees. Not so much when it’s a group of employees.

  35. - Huh? - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:24 pm:

    1.4% will fight this until he leaves office.

  36. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:26 pm:

    And just like that, Honeybear’s doom & gloom predictions go up in smoke.

  37. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:28 pm:

    ===All Rauner has left is to delay this out of spite until he is out of office … and leave his successor deal with the mess.===

    Does anyone doubt this is precisely what Rauner will do?

  38. - Huh? - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:28 pm:

    Cubs - the war isn’t over until 1.4% has been vanquished from the field of battle. 1.4% will fight tooth and nail until he leaves office.

  39. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 7:56 pm:


    I’m referring to her predictions that the Fourth Dist. would rule in Rauner’s favor and he would immediately impose his terms on State workers. I’m aware all this means is we live to fight another day.

  40. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 8:00 pm:

    ==And just like that, Honeybear’s doom & gloom predictions go up in smoke==

    And all of that wonderful poetic rhetoric along with it. Perfidy, I tell ya, perfidy. Don’t worry though, Christmas is coming soon for AFSCME, JB style.

  41. - Real - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 8:09 pm:

    Rauner is saying no decision was made.

    Governor Rauner’s press team responded to News 3’s request for a response with the following:

    The Appellate Court did not determine whether or not AFSCME and the State are at impasse. Instead, it sent the case back to the ILRB to more fully explain its original impasse decision or, in the alternative, to apply a different legal test for impasse. The State is considering options for appeal of the decision to the Supreme Court. If neither party appeals, the case will return to the ILRB where the parties will likely present additional evidence and argument on these issues, and the ILRB will issue a revised opinion

  42. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 8:11 pm:

    Funny how honeybear only posts during the wirk day isn’t it?

  43. - Arsenal - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 8:30 pm:

    Sue, Rauner just got tuned up by the federal court for faking an impasse, he’s wasted all that time and money on this vendetta, and your issue is what JB might do next? And you include a fat joke in there?

    That’s a level of sycophancy that would make LP blush.

  44. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 8:36 pm:

    ===Rauner is saying no decision was made.===

    Planet Bruce. Wow,

  45. - Real - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 8:37 pm:

    Sue like Rauner is not a fiscal conservative. They just want to bust Unions for there own selfish interest.

  46. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 8:38 pm:

    Again Bruce not following court order. When is this going to stop.

  47. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 8:40 pm:

    The court reversed the finding of an impasse and remanded. Reading the decision as a whole, if the Board finds an impasse again it will likely be reversed again. What did Rauner’s peeps say about the court’s holdings that.CMS committed unfair labor practices by withholding info etc.?

  48. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 9:39 pm:

    The truth is that I’ve never been more happy to be wrong in my life.
    And duh, I post during the day because at night all the debate and discussion is over.
    Still make fun of me all you want. You obviously haven’t been effected by the trauma that every state worker has.
    You make fun of my use of perfidy.
    Hey, whatever, it’s a great word and was every bit applicable for the past 4 years.
    I look forward to nailing it to other politicians who deserve it.
    But in truth, I still can’t believe it. I always knew we weren’t at impasse
    But I can’t believe we actually won.
    I’m so relieved.

  49. - Real - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 9:48 pm:


    Rauner is still playing games though.

  50. - Perrid - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 9:58 pm:

    Heh. Like some other comments said, while the court had to remand the case they made it pretty clear they don’t think an impasse exists.

    “Although our conclusion necessitates a
    remand, for purposes of clarity, we discuss some of the other issues relative to application of the
    “single critical issue impasse test” as they relate to this case.”

    And then goes on to say that progress on other issues was being made, as late as January 7th, and so there was no impasse (they didn’t QUITE say that, but c’mon)

  51. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 10:32 pm:

    They also said that even under the newly embraced test the traditional test is still to be considered. They are not mutually exclusive tests. And under the traditional test, there was no impasse. The Board tried to brush this under the rug by relegating it to a footnote, but the court wasn’t duped.

  52. - Generic Drone - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 10:35 pm:

    Great news. But like others, I believe Rauner will go down swinging.

  53. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 6:09 am:

    The Union will swing right back. We’ll see who’s standing in two weeks.

  54. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 7:16 am:

    There is no impasse. Rauner flat-out refuses to budge on his horrible contract terms. In no way has bargaining hit impasse when he’s trying to force workers to double their healthcare costs, wipe out layoff protections, privatize without restrictions and cost control, freeze their step pay increases, etc. There is plenty of room to bargain.

    Rauner hijacked state workers like he did the budget. He didn’t get hurt by all the damage he caused. His income skyrocketed. Rauner hurt many state employees by illegally freezing their steps and not paying senior workers their longevity pay.

  55. - Nick Name - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 7:46 am:

    People here need to learn how to do tiny URLs. Sheesh.

  56. - Anon - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 8:08 am:

    Great news for everyone but Sue. Rauner has to check in with the compliance officer soon and will have some ‘splainin to do.

  57. - Whatever - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 8:08 am:

    Sue ==And now JB will be able to further bankrupt us all by paying back his union supporters with a big FAT contract ==

    As others have pointed out, any contract Rauner might have made has to expire soon after his term ends. If JB wins, he gets to negotiate a new contract no matter what the courts, the ILRB or Rauner do.

  58. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 8:16 am:

    Nick sounds cranky.

  59. - Lord Voldemort - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 8:21 am:

    Having courts second-guess negotiations like this is begging for trouble.

    In any other context — negotiating over the price of a car, or a home — “impasse” is reached when one party determines that it cannot get acceptable terms. You cannot force a car dealership or a home buyer to come back and listen to your latest effort to split differences. Whether further negotiations are worth pursuing a policy decision, not a legal one.

    In Rauner’s opinion there were certain things that the state needed to have in a new CBA that AFSCME was not willing to accept. That’s an impasse. You can question his judgement, but as governor it was his call to make and I do not see why the court’s opinion is superior to that of the elected governor.

  60. - Ike - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 8:32 am:

    Right, because buying a car is the same negotiating a labor contract /s.

    Just because someone is elected doesn’t mean they have the right to violate the law.

  61. - Flynn's Mom - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 8:56 am:

    Is AFSCME married to Mike Madigan too/s

  62. - Perrid - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 9:02 am:

    @Lord Voldemort, did you try reading the case? Have you done any research? The court basically said Rauner didn’t try hard and or long enough to reach a deal. Progress was being made as late as the day before, and the other party said they were still willing to negotiate. You might not like it but the whole point of labor laws is to make sure the employers treat workers fairly. That more than implies they can’t just say “My way or the highway” and be done, they at least have to go through the proper process, which the court says Rauner did not do.

  63. - Nick Name - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 9:19 am:

    ===In any other context — negotiating over the price of a car, or a home…===

    Lord Voldemort, you really should study up on collective bargaining for public employees before you go comparing contract negotiations to buying a car or a home.


    (See, folks and Anonymous @8:16? That’s a tiny url. Took all of 30 seconds.)

  64. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 9:22 am:

    ==In any other context==

    We’re not in any other context, we’re in *this* context.

  65. - JJ - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 9:22 am:

    Lord Voldemort, negotiations when buying a car are way way different then labor negotiations. He has a legal obligation to make negotiations in good faith. Also speaking of legality he missed other legal obligations he had in proving the union information they requested during negotiations, making any claim of an impasse null and void if this ever goes higher. Also just on a side note legally speaking his assessment of back pay and step increases owed to the union employees has NO basis in law. Federal law decided a long time ago that by him accepting the workers to continue providing service he is accepting the continuation of the old contract in its entirety. He could have easily forced workers out on strike, a true conservative would have done just that. But lets be honest a true conservative he is not.

  66. - Just another voice - Wednesday, Oct 24, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    “- Sue - Tuesday, Oct 23, 18 @ 6:41 pm: And now JB will be able to further bankrupt us all by paying back his union supporters with a big FAT contract”

    If your employer was supposed to have given you a raise four years ago and still hadn’t done so, what would you do?

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