State Supreme Court denies Rauner request to bypass AFSCME appeal

SHARE State Supreme Court denies Rauner request to bypass AFSCME appeal

State of Illinois employees represented by AFSCME walk near the Department of Healthcare and Family Services building in Springfield earlier this month. | File Photo

The Illinois Supreme Court has denied Gov. Bruce Rauner’s request to bypass an appellate court regarding whether his administration can impose contract terms on the state’s largest employee union.

It’s the latest chapter in a contentious feud between the Rauner administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees —which represents 38,000 Illinois state government workers.

Rauner on March 17 asked the Illinois Supreme Court to bypass the appeal process — arguing the delay is costing the state money. In early March, the 4th District Appellate Court granted AFSCME Council 31’s request to put on hold the impasse that was declared by the state’s labor board.

The Illinois Supreme Court issued its denial on Tuesday.

“AFSCME members are public service workers who do their jobs every day protecting kids, keeping us safe, helping veterans and the disabled and much more,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said in a statement. “Gov. Rauner should stop wasting time and money on costly court fights and instead do his own job, working constructively to find common ground.”

Rauner’s general counsel Dennis Murashko on Tuesday called AFSCME’s efforts to fight the contract “regrettable.”

“We have gone as far as we can go in negotiations — and our last, best and final offer is all that our taxpayers can afford,” Murashko said in a statement. “It is therefore regrettable that AFSCME is continuously resisting every attempt for a quick resolution and wants to continue dragging this out in the courts. Every day of delay costs taxpayers over $2 million.”

In requesting the case go to the Supreme Court last month, Murashko warned that “after 67 days of negotiation” with the union, “this is as far as we can go and it is time to implement it.”

The state’s labor relations board in November declared an impasse between the union and the Rauner administration. The union immediately vowed to appeal the ruling.

The union’s contract expired on July 1, 2015.

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