By a vote of 38-15, a super-majority of state senators from every part of Illinois voted today to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of the fair arbitration bill, Senate Bill 1229. (Download the Senate roll call)
Applauding the action was the Illinois AFL-CIO and many unions that represent state workers and other public employees, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), the Illinois Nurses Association (INA), the Laborers International Union of North America-Midwest Region, the Police Benevolent & Protective Association (PB&PA), SEIU Healthcare Illinois and the Illinois Education Association (IEA).
The legislation offers to state employees (such as child protection workers, nurses and caregivers) the option of the same fair arbitration process provided to state and local police, fire and prison security personnel in Illinois for more than 30 years.
The bill would help avert the potential conflict, hardship and disruption of a statewide strike or lockout by offering arbitration as an alternative means of resolving contract disputes between state employees’ unions and the Rauner Administration if ongoing negotiations fail to produce agreements.
To enact the bill, three-fifths of the state Senate and House of Representatives must vote to override the Governor’s veto. With the Senate’s action on Wednesday, the House now has 15 days to follow suit.
As a candidate, Governor Rauner repeatedly vowed to “take a strike and shut down state government for a few weeks” in order to force workers to accept his extreme demands.
More recently, the governor has made legislation that strips the rights of workers to bargain collectively a precondition of his willingness to enact a state budget or address other unrelated policy matters. And in a possible signal that the governor’s office is preparing to provoke a work stoppage, the Rauner Administration has reportedly solicited retirees to serve as strike breakers and considered mobilizing the National Guard.
“The Senate has done right by the citizens of Illinois today,” Illinois AFL-CIO president Michael Carrigan said. “Simply put, this legislation will make sure the state keeps working if negotiations fail.”
“State employees keep us safe, protect kids, care for veterans and provide countless other important services,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch said.
“Public service workers want to be treated fairly, they don’t want to be forced out on strike, and today’s vote is a strong step in the right direction.”
“On behalf of the thousands of state employees represented by the IFT, I want to thank State Senators for standing up to protect the vital public services we all rely on,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “While it doesn’t provide the Governor with the political showdown he so obsessively desires, this legislation does help ensure state services will continue without interruption—a real priority to Illinois taxpayers.”
“After this resounding defeat, it is time for Bruce Rauner to follow the advice of Gov. Jim Edgar and shelve his anti-worker obsession so that a budget is passed and vulnerable Illinoisans are protected,” SEIU Healthcare Illinois president Keith Kelleher said. “We applaud the senators who stood up to his bully tactics and join the growing chorus who see the Rauner agenda for what it is—protection for billionaire interests and pain for everyone else.”
“Registered Nurses and the patients they care for deserve the fair and reasonable process provided by SB 1229,” INA executive director Alice Johnson said. “We thank the senators who, in voting for SB 1229, stood up for nurses and patients, and against an extremist agenda that seeks to force nurses to work while exhausted, putting lives at risk.”
“Today’s vote shows again how far out of step Governor Rauner is with Illinois’ middle class,” said Sean Stott, Director of Governmental Affairs of the Laborers’ Midwest Region. “Rauner claims to want good-paying jobs in this state but is moving heaven and earth to cut workers’ pay and benefits. We thank the supermajority of senators who stood up to him today.”
“The governor’s statements contradict the facts. He has had months to negotiate but has failed to make any meaningful progress,” PB&PA Illinois director Sean Smoot said. “He says he will not lock workers out, but he has already sent layoff notices to employees. A layoff is quite simply a targeted lockout.”
“We believe it’s important that state services continue to be delivered to the people of Illinois by hardworking state employees,” IEA president Cinda Klickna said. “By voting to override the veto, the House will send the message that it’s time for the governor to stop pushing a personal agenda against unions and, instead, focus on solving Illinois’ real problems, starting with the state budget.”