Politics

Illinois Governor Vetoes Union Power Grab Bill … Again

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Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill for the second time Monday that would have required him to relinquish his authority to negotiate with state unions if an impasse is declared.

Rauner is at odds with the Democratic majority in the legislature over his labor dispute with state unions — which started over a year ago when he took office. Rauner vetoed a bill passed Mar. 3 that would require him to forfeit his negotiation powers to an independent arbitrator if an impasse is declared.

“[It] replaces the Governor in collective bargaining negotiations with an unelected, labor-friendly arbitrator who can single-handedly impose the union’s $3 billion demand on the taxpayers, and do so over the objections of the Governor, the General Assembly, the Labor Board,” Rauner wrote in his veto letter. “One person would have the ability to determine over 25% of our annual budget.”

The legislature still has a chance to override the veto if it can get a super-majority to vote in favor of the bill. Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said a veto override vote is likely and believes the bill might have enough bipartisan support to be successful. Supporters of the bill believe attempts to rein in union power will ultimately hurt workers.

“He’s damaging the rights of middle class workers, its disappointing” Brown told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Advocates for the legislation believe they have bipartisan support.”

Democrats introduced an almost identical bill last February, which passed the Democratic majority in both legislative chambers in May but vetoed in July. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is one of its biggest opponents, even as most state unions managed to eventually reach a compromise with the governor.

“In Illinois, AFSCME’s efforts led to the passage of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, the very law by which these negotiations were conducted for almost a year,” Rauner continued. “Now AFSCME seeks to rewrite its own handcrafted rules simply because our negotiators invoked those same rules to protect our taxpayers against AFSCME’s unaffordable financial demands.”

Rauner petitioned the Illinois Labor Relations Board in January to declare the talks at an impasse. If the Illinois labor board rules the negotiations are at an impasse, it would be a huge victory for the governor — the remaining state unions will have to accept his last contract proposal or go on strike.

Rauner has claimed on numerous occasions that limiting public-sector union power will help the state economy by reducing spending. Some state unions, however, have fought to increase their power. The governor detailed in a memo sent by his office in July that AFSCME is demanding an 11.5 to 29 percent pay increase for state employees, a 37.5 hour work week and five weeks of fully-paid vacation, among other privileges.

AFSCME did not respond to a request for comment by TheDCNF.

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