Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill Monday that would move unresolved labor contract talks to binding arbitration.
Rauner says the veto stems from concerns that such legislation could result in the state entering into a contract that it cannot fiscally sustain.
AFSCME has been in contract talks with the state for the last year and the Rauner administration is asking the state Labor Relations Board to find that the parties are at an impasse. If the board makes that determination, the union would be required to consider a contract the state draws up on its own terms. AFSCME has argued to the labor board that the two parties are not at an impasse.
AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Loretta Lynch released the following statement in response to Rauner's vote:
Public service workers in state government keep us safe, protect kids, respond to emergencies and much more. They want to stay on the job to serve their communities, not be forced out on strike, and they deserve fair pay and health care they can afford. This bill seeks compromise and avoids a strike by allowing an independent, neutral third party to settle the differences between workers and management. It is the process already used for tens of thousands of fire fighters, police officers, correctional workers and others throughout Illinois.
Beneath Governor Rauner's false claims and wild exaggerations about the bill is this reality: The governor walked away from negotiations with our union in January and is seeking total power to unilaterally impose his demands, including forcing state and university employees to pay double their current costs for health care. Given that power, the governor could impose his demands and leave state employees no choice but to strike. That's exactly what Rauner as a candidate vowed to do.
Governor Rauner doesn't like HB 580 because it would require him to be moderate and seek compromise. He wants his way or no way at all. Public service workers in state government want better for the millions of citizens we serve. That's why new polls show voters support the fair arbitration bill by 3-1 margins even in Republican districts, and why we will urge all lawmakers of both parties to protect public services, ensure fairness and override the governor's veto of HB 580.
State lawmakers have the option of overriding the governor's veto of HB 580. Such an effort would start in the House where, last year, lawmakers were unable to find the votes necessary to override Rauner's veto of similar legislation.