Gov. Bruce Rauner wants the labor dispute between the state and the largest public employee union to be sent to the full labor board and bypass an administrative law judge.

A spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees told Springfield’s State Journal-Register the request is a first. Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said the administrative law judge is optional under state labor law.

Americans For Prosperity Illinois State Director David From said for the first time in a long time, there’s a governor representing taxpayers’ interests.

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“It’s just really refreshing to have the governor who is representing the interest of taxpayers rather than representing interests of government unions that contribute to their campaigns,” From said.

Democratic state Rep. Mike Smiddy of Hillsdale said he wants to ensure all information is presented. “The biggest thing that we have to be concerned about is making sure that the labor board hears all the correct information from both sides.”

The governor in January asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board to determine whether contract negotiations between AFSCME and the state were at an impasse. Hearings that began in April concluded last week. It’s unclear when the case will be resolved. 

Kelly said the state can no longer afford to pay the country’s richest benefits package with insurance costs of up to $40 million a month.

Smiddy questioned those numbers. “There’s figures being floated out there that I’m not exactly sure where they’re coming from.”

From said regardless, the state needs savings now because “for too long taxpayers have been an ATM for the government unions.”

The state and AFSCME have been without a contract since July 2015.


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