In over 40 years of collective bargaining, Illinois state employees have always been able to reach contract settlements without a work stoppage. AFSCME, my union, is committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to employees and our fellow taxpayers this time around as well.
State employees are willing to do our part to help deal with Illinois’ budget problems, but Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to exploit those problems to pursue his anti-union agenda. All during his campaign, Gov. Rauner said he would shut down state government if state employees don’t agree to his terms in contract bargaining. Even though he’s saying something different now, as a state employee, I can’t forget those harsh threats.
That’s why we support SB 1229. Under this legislation, if there’s no progress and both sides are far apart, an independent and impartial arbitrator would be brought in, an option currently available to police officers and firefighters.
The bill passed with broad support in the General Assembly, but Gov. Rauner has vetoed it. It looks like he’s still seeking confrontation. I hope our legislators will have the courage to vote to override his veto so that we can have fair and responsible contract negotiations, without the threat of a lockout or strike, and thereby avoid any disruption of vital services on which countless Illinois residents depend. Illinois has enough problems without the governor trying to create more.