Hearings in the contract dispute between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state’s largest public-sector employees union began April 25, but the outcome may not come for a while.
Attorneys for the Rauner administration said AFSCME wants a contract that will cost taxpayers more than $3 billion, which is more than the state can afford. AFSCME contends the Rauner administration had it in for the unions from the beginning.
Illinois Labor Relations Board General Counsel Kathryn Nelson said deciding whether the two sides have reached an impasse could take months.
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“It is complicated as evidenced in the number of dates that the parties have agreed on to put on their evidence, and it will certainly take some time to conclude,” Nelson said.
After the hearings and recommended decision, each party can then file exceptions and responses. All of that is then to be given to the five-member board to make a final decision.
Nelson said the board will take time to make its decision.
“That then begins the period for either party to file an appeal to the appellate court to challenge the board’s decision,” Nelson said.
Hearings continue this week in Springfield with hearings next week in Chicago. Other hearing dates as needed are scheduled through May 26.
The hearings come more than three months after the governor requested the review.
Rauner filed his request in mid-January. Rauner asked the labor board to determine whether there’s an impasse and if a final offer can be imposed on the union.
Nelson said it’s not out of the ordinary for fact finding to take months.
“There is an investigation process followed by a period of drafting charges, and a complaint, and the parties having an opportunity to respond to answer the complaint,” Nelson said.
Rauner and AFSCME have been without a contract since last summer.
AFSCME has been pushing for a measure to allow either side to declare impasse, which would trigger binding arbitration. Rauner vetoed one such measure last year, saying it would lead to a massive tax increase. Another union-backed binding arbitration bill was sent to the governor last month.