Illinois Governor’s Arbitration Policy Veto at Risk for Override
Saturday, August, 15, 2015
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is involved in a battle with organized labor in his state, specifically with the state’s largest public worker union, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local Council 31. The union’s contract expired the end of June, but so far all they have managed to do is agree on two extensions as they continue to negotiate with no end in sight.
The governor recently vetoed a union created bill that would have used an arbitrator to decide the contract. Many are speculating that lawmakers will override that veto as soon as they have the opportunity. The bill would have guaranteed that no strike or lockout of union workers while also providing a process for naming an independent arbitrator to settle contract disputes within a specific period of time.
The governor believed the bill to be unconstitutional and to give too much power to the arbitrator. The governor was concerned about an unelected official making binding decisions about salaries and benefits that are paid for by the taxpayers of the state. Many of the state’s newspapers supported the governor’s veto, one even going so far as to call the arbitration plan “unsettling.”
There is concern the veto will be overridden because 38 of the State Senate’s members voted in favor of the plan already. It only requires 36 to override the veto. In the State House, two Democrats and 15 Republicans failed to vote on the bill in the spring. Now, many of the Republican representatives, especially from Springfield, would be under pressure to override the veto because they represent people in districts that would be directly affected by the bill because they work for the government. The governor is urging lawmakers to side with him.