Democrats contend binding arbitration for all state employees to prevent a strike is a major concession from the unions while Republicans say it would violate a current agreement.
House Bill 580 passed the House Tuesday 67-46 but not without more than two hours worth of debate.
Democrat sponsor Chris Welch said the measure is a concession from unions willing to give up their right to strike.
“This isn’t a game,” Welch said. “This is people’s lives. We shouldn’t shut government down.”
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Leading Republican Representative Jim Durkin said the measure goes against the current tolling agreement between the union and Rauner administration.
Durkin said the measure, if passed, would upend that agreement which he says would “unfairly and unconstitutionally, retroactively applies an ex post facto law to a process that started back in January.”
The tolling agreement between the union and administration, which has been in place since the contract expired last summer, lays out a process for either side to ask the Illinois Labor Relations Board to determine if there’s an impasse -- something the governor requested last month.
Welch and other Democrats say the governor is looking to force a strike.
“This governor, this chief executive wants to shut this state down,” Welch said, “and you think this is the right thing to do?”
However, Republican Representative Ron Sandack said the record from the past year of negotiations paints a different picture.
“I think the record of 60 meetings,” Sandack said, “I think the record of three tolling agreements, I think the record of attempted negotiation and using the procedure pursuant to the contract each party signed is fair.”
Governor Rauner’s office issued a statement after the bill passed that the measure would lead to a $3 billion tax hike and “further squeezing social services and, ironically, it will lead to layoffs.”
“Now it’s up to the Senate to decide if they stand with taxpayers or with special interests,” the administration wrote.