The fight for employee equality advanced today when the Illinois Senate voted on two critical measures that ensure working families are given fair wages and benefits. The first measure Senate Bill 1229, which was overridden by the governor, aims to bar the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees from striking or being locked out while a collective bargaining agreement is negotiated.
The union’s collective barging contract expired on July 1st. The Governor’s office and the state largest labor union AFSCME have yet to reach an agreement.
State Senator 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.”
SPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and a bipartisan group of Springfield lawmakers today called for renewed contract negotiations between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the union that represents 38,000 Illinois state workers.
Harmon noted his support of a measure that would have allowed interest arbitration in the event of an impasse between Rauner, whose anti-union sentiments are well documented, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
“Twice I passed a bill that would provide for interest arbitration. Twice the governor vetoed that bill, and twice the General Assembly failed to override the veto,” Harmon said. “The governor’s rationale at the time was that he was willing to stay at the bargaining table and negotiate a deal. That sentiment appears to have vanished.”
AFSCME – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – is the largest union representing state government employees. No contract negotiations between the Rauner administration and the union have occurred since Jan. 8, 2016, when the administration claimed the parties were at impasse.
More than 30 state lawmakers of both parties and both houses of the Legislature gathered for a news conference Wednesday to show their support for continued good-faith negotiations between the administration and union representatives to avert a labor disruption and bring about an acceptable compromise.
“I think it is critically important to the people of Illinois that we try to reach an agreement that is fair to everyone and enables us to continue to provide vital services,” Harmon said, adding that Gov. Rauner is not practicing what he preaches when he refuses to participate in negotiations.
“The governor is demanding that the legislative leaders join him at a bargaining table every day to discuss his agenda and its impact on our state budget,” Harmon said. “I would hope that he would hold himself to that same standard in negotiating with the union and return to the bargaining table immediately.”
SPRINGFIELD — The governor’s veto late Monday of House Bill 580, which would provide interest arbitration for public employees who have been working without a contract for nearly a year, sets up an override battle in the Illinois House later this month. State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) issued the following statement:
“Interest arbitration is established as a fair way to settle contract disputes between Illinois units of government and their employees. State workers who toil in our prisons, aid our most vulnerable residents and perform other work many of us don’t have the heart or stomach for deserve interest arbitration. Please contact your state representative and urge him or her to support the override of HB 580.”
SPRINGFIELD — Most state employees have been working without a contract since last summer. Negotiations since between the governor’s office and the union that represents the employees have not proved fruitful. State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) helped pass legislation today that not only will keep workers on the job but also will help broker a deal that is fair for both sides.
House Bill 580 introduces interest arbitration to the negotiating process between the governor’s office and AFSCME. Current law allows the state, in the event of a genuine impasse, to implement its final offer, which the union then chooses to accept or go on strike.
Interest arbitration involves a neutral third party to help resolve contract disputes. Each side would have its own delegate and then agree to the third party. This arbitrator has the authority to then impose terms of a new contract, and the employees give up their right to strike during the arbitration process.
“AFSCME members perform essential work throughout our area,” McGuire said, referencing Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill in particular. “Interest arbitration already is in place for police, firefighters and other public safety workers. It’s a proven concept, and Governor Rauner can show that he values the hard work that our union members do for their families and their communities by signing HB 580.”
With the Senate’s approval of HB 580, it now goes to the governor for his signature.
Senate President John J. Cullerton (D-Chicago) spoke at an AFSCME Rally at the capitol on May 18, 2016.