August 20, 2015

Senate overrides Rauner veto of fair arbitration bill; focus now on House vote

By a vote of 38-15, a super-majority of state senators from every part of Illinois voted Aug. 19 to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of the fair arbitration bill, Senate Bill 1229.

The Rauner Administration had intensified its efforts to defeat the veto override with inflammatory rhetoric, veiled threats and outright falsehoods. But AFSCME members countered with calls, meetings and letters to legislators. We presented clear facts on this sensible legislation, which simply offers to state employees the option of the same fair arbitration process provided to state and local police, fire and prison security personnel in Illinois for more than 30 years.

The legislation is urgently needed because of concerns about Governor Rauner’s willingness to seek confrontation rather than reach a fair contract settlement for state workers at the bargaining table. As a candidate, Governor Rauner repeatedly vowed to “take a strike and shut down state government for a few weeks” in order to force workers to accept his extreme demands. And in a signal that the governor’s office is readying to provoke a work stoppage, the Rauner Administration has reportedly solicited retirees to serve as strike breakers and considered mobilizing the National Guard. Clearly he is prepared to force a strike if state employees do not accept draconian cuts to their standard of living and rights on the job.

The governor’s arguments against the bill are red herrings that lack solid evidence to support his claims. He has claimed that any arbitrator would be “union friendly” and give state employees a contract that is too expensive for the state, when in fact, SB 1229 provides for the selection of a neutral, independent arbitrator by mutual agreement of the union and the employer. The same procedure is used dozens of times every year to resolve grievances or settle contract disputes, and anyone familiar with labor law knows that arbitrators rule for the employer as often as they do for the employees. Click here to read AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch’s recent letter to the General Assembly setting the record straight.

Call your state rep at 888-912-5959Even as union members herald the override vote in the Senate, we know that another hurdle remains before SB 1229 can become law: An override vote in the House. As in the Senate, the override requires a three-fifths vote, and the administration is likely to redouble its ferocious campaign in opposition.

That’s why every AFSCME member should call his or her state representative now to urge that they override Governor Rauner’s veto of SB1229.

Call toll-free at 888-912-5959 or click to call.

The House is likely to vote soon, so call today!

Enacting SB 1229 by overriding the governor’s veto is the best way to avoid a disruption of the vital state services on which so many citizens depend, and to negotiate a fair contract. Every union member should call his or her state representative and urge them to vote to override the governor’s veto of SB 1229.

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