Metro-East News

Temporary restraining order granted in state workers’ suit

A union was granted a temporary restraining order Monday against the Illinois Department of Central Management Services in St. Clair County.

The order comes not long after the union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, filed an amended suit to prevent Gov. Bruce Rauner from imposing his final contract terms.

AFSCME Council 31 says on its website that it represents at least 100,000 active and retired members in the state.

The request made by the union for a temporary restraining order was granted and signed by St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien on Monday.

The judge called on the state Department of Central Management Services to rescind “any changes they have implemented without the agreement of the Union” and to honor the Tolling Agreement. The judge wrote that the Illinois Department of Central Management Services must maintain the wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment as it existed on Nov. 15.

“Plaintiff has demonstrated it has protectable legal interest in the rights protecting by the Tolling Agreement between AFSCME Council 31 and the Illinois Department of Central Management Services and has made out a prima facie case that the conduct of Defendant CMS has violated that Tolling Agreement by implementing new terms and conditions of employment without notice to and the agreement of the Union,” LeChien wrote in the order.

Rauner’s office had said last week that the governor’s final offer included $1,000 merit pay for employees, overtime after 40 hours, bereavement leave, workplace safety task forces, the use of volunteers and drug and alcohol testing of those reasonably suspected of use on the job. AFSCME had said it wasn’t done negotiating contract terms last winter.

“With this order, AFSCME’s hand-picked judge blatantly ignores yesterday’s written ruling which memorialized and reinforced the Labor Board’s final decision, made at its November 15th meeting confirming that the parties are at impasse,” Rauner spokewoman Catherine Kelly said in a statement. “In addition, the order ensures that taxpayers and employees will not be able to benefit from common sense solutions such as overtime after 40 hours of work, workplace safety task forces, bereavement leave, and $1,000 merit bonus payments for eligible employees.”

The union had said Rauner entered a binding legal agreement stating that no changes could be implemented unless the state Labor Board found the parties were at impasse. AFSCME’s suit argued that there’s no such finding until the Labor Board issued a written decision under state law. The labor board, AFSCME said, had issued only an oral decision.

A Jan. 13 hearing has been scheduled for the ongoing case.