February 24, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Springfield, IL – The Illinois House voted Feb. 16 to send deadlocked contract talks with state workers to binding arbitration, but the 67-46 vote fell four short of the number needed to override a veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Four Democrats abstained or voted no in the otherwise party-line vote. The bill would apply to contracts that expired after June 30, 2015 or will expire by June 30, 2019. That would cover seven unions that represent about 70,000 state workers, including nurses, teachers, health aides, laborers, and the 38,000 in American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31. Rauner, who vetoed a similar bill last year, has demanded a four-year wage freeze from AFSCME. “Governor Rauner’s approach of chaos and confrontation hurts the people of Illinois. Public service workers want an agreement that’s fair to all,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch said in a statement. “Submitting our differences to an independent third party can ensure working people are treated fairly and public services are not disrupted.” Read more