Up Next: Union Arbitration Veto Override, Try Two

May 24, 2016

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Unionized state employees worried about stalled contract talks could learn Wedneday whether there's hope for a work-around.

Last week, thousands of union members rallied in Springfield. They asked legislators to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a bill that would change how the state negotiates with labor. Wednesday they may see if it worked.

Democratic Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch says he plans to call the measure for a vote.

"I think the rally in Springfield last week was very impressive," he said Tuesday. "And people are hearing that. So we're going to put it on the board and see if the votes are there."

The legislation would require stalled contract talks to be settled by an arbitrator.

It's the second time Rauner vetoed the idea. House Democrats' previous attempt to override him fell three votes short.

"The arguments pretty much remain the same," Welch says. "I just think timing and circumstance have changed. I think people are hearing from folks back home in their districts, the state employees have made their voices heard."

The governor has called it the "worst" bill he's seen, but unions say Rauner is trying to force a strike or walk-out.

The legislation would also forbid workers from striking.

AFSCME says it's trying to prevent a government shutdown; Rauner says the bill strips his ability to bargain, and puts a major state expense in the hands of an unelected arbitrator.

Though it doesn't just apply to AFSCME, the vote comes as talks between Rauner the state's largest public employees' union have been stalled for months.

Rauner's administration says its negotiations with AFSCME, which represents some 38,000 state employees, went so poorly, it's asking the state labor relations board to declare an impasse. A hearing process is underway.