The sponsor of a controversial binding-arbitration bill is working to muster the votes for a measure the governor says could cost taxpayers $3 billion.
Democratic state Rep. Mike Smiddy’s measure would remove the governor from negotiations over labor contracts with government-worker unions. Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a similar bill in 2015, and is expected to veto this one as well.
In light of the May 17 veto deadline, Smiddy said he’s been reaching out to lawmakers, “trying to talk to them about the importance of this bill and if state services were to shut down what that would mean to the residents of Illinois.”
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, said he doesn’t expect any minds to change from 2015’s failed veto override. Sosnowski questioned why labor unions would want to give up their ability to strike in exchange for binding arbitration.
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“For the first time in a long time you’ve got some demands on both sides, and there's a little bit of an adversarial position, which is good,” Sosnowski said. “That’s what you want in negotiations.”
Smiddy said the landscape changed when Rauner’s administration in January asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board to review the status of the monthslong negotiations between the state and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to determine whether an impasse has been reached.
Sosnowski said the ongoing process should continue, and should not be cut off by the General Assembly through the pro-AFSCME bill.
“So anything that changes that process gets back to pure politics and is not something we should be considering in the Statehouse,” Sosnowski said.
Rauner called the bill “atrocious,” saying it could lead to $3 billion worth of raises and benefits the state can’t afford.