FA News: 3/3/2017 (update)
March 5, 2017
My apologies for the multiple emails, but developments announced this afternoon made my earlier email today seem positively misleading.
AFSCME has won an important victory in court. Technically speaking, all the Illinois 4th District Appellate Court ruling did was delay implementation of the Labor Board’s ruling that the state and the union were at impasse. But in doing so the court had to determine whether the union’s appeal had “a reasonable likelihood of prevailing upon the merits,” and so the decision addressed the substance of the case. It offers a very forceful repudiation of the Labor Board’s finding that the sides were at impasse (a finding which had been supported by an administrative judge), while playing up the subsidiary finding that the Governor engaged in an unfair labor practice by failing to provide AFSCME with relevant information it requested. The full text of the ruling can be found here.
At a minimum, the ruling will result in a long delay before Rauner can impose his terms, which would have included the hikes in our health care premiums discussed in my earlier email. More importantly, this decision–in an appellate district thought to be conservative and sympathetic to employers, no less–does not augur well for Rauner winning at the State Supreme Court, and suggests that he may be forced back to the bargaining table.
For us, this means, at a minimum, a reprieve of months or perhaps considerably longer before our health insurance premiums skyrocket. If Rauner loses again at the Supreme Court, as this decision suggests he will, that would be a repudiation of his claim to have done all he can to reach a fair contract with AFSCME, and would confirm AFSCME’s position that the Governor has simply walked away from the bargaining table. It also opens up the possibility that legal issues and negotiations could drag on through the whole of Rauner’s term–and that bargaining might be concluded under a governor less hostile to unions and state workers. Happy weekend: this counts as good news around here.