Major Vote Ahead, Pitting Rauner V. Unions

Aug 31, 2015

Union members gather for a previous budget battle; their current fight with Gov. Rauner borders on existential.
Credit Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A key vote in the standoff between Gov. Bruce Rauner and labor is expected in the Illinois House this week, as early as Wednesday.

Rauner has been trying to convince legislators to let him keep his power to negotiate with the AFSCME union, even if it results in a lockout or strike (though Rauner has vowed he won't call for the former). At the same time, AFSCME leaders are asking state representatives to stick with them.

A measure Rauner vetoed could hand the contract drafting off to an arbitrator. The two sides have been negotiating for months, and both have reported they're still far apart.

Already the Senate has voted to override the arbitration bill, but in order for it to become law, the House must do the same.

If Democrats stick together, they could do it, but every single Democrat's vote would be needed. Some, like Rep. Scott Drury of Highland Park, are on the fence.

"I'm talking with people all over, outside of Illinois -- experts on the issue. And I need to make sure that when I vote on this issue, because it's become such a big issue, that my vote is the right vote," he said.

Of course, the numbers would change should a Republican legislator side with AFSCME (one, Sen. Sam McCann of Plainview, did so in the Senate) however the pressure is on the GOP to remain allied with their governor.

Not only will the vote draw a line in the sand at the statehouse, it's ramifications on government workers' wages and the state budget could also be huge.

Drury originally voted it when it passed in May. Rep. Jack Franks, D-Margengo, has also said he's undecided; in May Franks abstained from taking a stance and didn't vote either way.