Thousands of union supporters surrounded the Illinois state capitol Wednesday protesting the governor over an ongoing labor dispute.
Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has fought with state unions since taking office over a year ago. He attempted to rein in union power in the hopes of reversing problems with the state budget. An estimated 10,000 union members and supporters surrounded the state capitol to protest Rauner and his labor policy reforms, reports The Associated Press.
A coalition of labor groups also marched by the governor’s mansion before joining the capitol rally. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has remained one of the biggest opponents to the labor reforms, even as most state unions managed to eventually reach a compromise with the him.
Rauner has also faced resistance from Democrats majority within the state legislature. He vetoed a bill Monday that would have required him to forfeit his negotiation powers to an independent arbitrator if an impasse is declared. Democrats introduced an almost identical bill last February, which passed the legislature but was vetoed last July.
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 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.
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