From Illinois Business Journal news services
The Illinois Senate on Wednesday voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation giving an arbitrator final say if there’s a stalemate in contract negotiations with unionized state employees.
The action sets up a decisive vote to be taken by the House of Representatives within 15 days of Wednesday’s vote. The vote was 38-15, a super-majority representing the three-fifths margin needed.
Rauner sent a memo to lawmakers Tuesday asking them to nix the override idea. He is negotiating with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees on a contract to replace one that expired June 30.
AFSCME pushed the measure this spring to bar the union from striking or the government from locking out workers.
The proposal aims to send any contract impasse to a third-party arbitrator who would decide contract conditions. Rauner says that would take away taxpayer power.
“Every Senator who voted to overturn our veto chose special interests over the taxpayers,” Rauner said Wednesday, following the Senate vote. “They made it abundantly clear that they’d rather raise taxes than stand up to the politically powerful. It is now up to House members to take the responsible, pro-taxpayer position and uphold our veto.”
The vote was mostly partisan, with Democratic downstate Senators Bill Haine of Alton, James Clayborne of Belleville and Republican Sam McCann of Carlinville among those agreeing to the override.
Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, and Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, voted against the override.
“Ironically, Senate Bill 1229 takes away the union’s ability to strike, but the real intent of the legislation is to take away the authority of the governor to bargain with the union on behalf of the people of Illinois,” McCarter said. “It turns the process over to an unelected arbitrator who must pick one side’s proposal with no option for compromise. The governor represents the taxpayers in these talks. This legislation results in taxpayers having no representation when it comes to the bargaining table. It has the potential of raising costs to taxpayers by about $2 billion a year over the next four years. The wages of state workers over the past ten years have gone up by 80 percent when in the private sector wages have risen about 25 percent. I voted against the override because it’s not prudent, it’s not wise and it’s not looking out for the future of this state. Let’s be reasonable. Let’s negotiate a new contract in good faith. The Governor has promised not to lock-out the workers. We can reach an agreement if people use common sense.”
State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, who serves as the Senate’s Labor Committee Chairman, thinks the measure takes bureaucracy out of the negotiations, which will create a platform for non-politicized negotiations.
“Since Governor Rauner began his term, he has waged an all-out war against organized labor and working families,” said Forby. “It’s clear the Governor doesn’t want fair negotiations, so if we take the bureaucracy out of the negotiation process, then it gives us a clearer path to reach an agreement.”
Senate Bill 1229 imposes the following requirements:
– Requires mediation within 30 days of expiration of the current contract;
– If mediation fails, authorizes either side to unilaterally initiate binding arbitration (under current law, binding arbitration must be mutually agreed);
– Extends the contract beyond its termination date, including all provisions of such contract such as the prohibition on strike or lockout. The terms of the contract would continue until a new agreement is reached.
Under the legislation, the arbitrator is instructed to accept one side’s proposal in its entirety, and won’t have the option to fashion a compromise.
The provisions of the law expire in four years at the end of Rauner’s first term in office.