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Governor Rauner Says Negotiations Are Over After Union Threatens Strike

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, the state's largest employee union, voted to authorize a walkout on Thursday. Governor Bruce Rauner said they are at impasse and the union's actions are hurting taxpayers.

"I'm very disappointed that AFSCME leaders have advocated a strike," Rauner said. "I think that's a mistake. This is not good for the people of Illinois."

"Negotiations are over," Rauner said. (Credit: WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

Rauner called the current contract offer reasonable and fair and said they've already struck deals with 20 other bargaining units. WBBM's Lisa Fielding reports.

"I think a 40-hour work week is reasonable, not a 37 1/2 one that currently is in place, I think it's reasonable to allow volunteers to help out in our state parks, I think it's reasonable to pay people in state government based upon productivity and merit, not just seniority. These are reasonable proposals so rather than pushing for a strike, I hope that together we'll collaborate and implement our proposed contract," he said.

AFSCME said it's still willing to come up with a compromise, but will strike if absolutely necessary. But Rauner said he's done negotiating.

"We are prepared if a strike is to occur. We will keep essential government programs running. A bipartisan Labor Board unanimously ruled we are at an impasse. Negotiations are over," Rauner said. "They've been over for more than a year. We met 67 times over the course of a year and we got agreements with 20 other unions. This is delay and it's costing us money."

The union's current contract expired in July 2015. Roughly 28,000 of the union's 38,000 members were eligible to take part in the three-week strike authorization vote.

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