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*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner response *** Unions file suit over Rauner executive order

Thursday, Mar 5, 2015

* A not unexpected development…

The Illinois AFL-CIO and 26 unions that represent more than 40,000 Illinois state employees today filed suit in circuit court to invalidate Gov. Bruce Rauner’s unlawful executive order that violates state law and multiple collective bargaining agreements by blocking state agencies from complying with the fair share provisions of those agreements.

“The men and women who do the real work of state government are first responders, nurses, caregivers and corrections officers. They plow snow, protect children, care for veterans and do many other tough, essential jobs that benefit all Illinois residents,” Illinois AFL-CIO president Michael T. Carrigan said. “Governor Rauner’s political obsession with stripping their rights and driving down their wages demeans their service, hurts the middle class and is blatantly illegal. We’re asking the court to restore the integrity of our democratic process and make clear that no one, not Governor Rauner or anyone else, can place themselves above the law.”

The court filings follow earlier statements from Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger, a Republican, and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, who say that Gov. Rauner’s order is illegal. Fair share agreements are authorized by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act—which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Jim Thompson in 1983—and included in each of the state’s contracts with each of the unions in question.

The unions’ Circuit Court complaint says the Governor’s order violates state government’s separation of powers. “Rauner has usurped the constitutional power of the legislative branch by promulgating an Executive Order that effectively repeals a duly passed Public Act [and] has unlawfully exercised the executive power vested in the Governor,” the litigation states. “The executive power is the power to faithfully execute the laws enacted through the legislative process, not to refuse to implement the laws that have been properly enacted by the State.”

Gov. Rauner has falsely claimed that his order makes workers more “free.” In reality, contrary to the governor’s frequent misstatements, no employee is required to join any union. Instead, fair share agreements provide that a union-represented employee who chooses not to join and pay dues is obligated only to pay a proportional fair share of the cost of negotiating and administering the union contract from which they benefit. (Also contrary to the governor’s statements, by law, fair share excludes political contributions.)

The governor’s own rhetoric and the language of the executive order itself make clear that his true intent is to drive down the wages earned by first responders, teachers, nurses, corrections officers, child protection workers, and other state employees by weakening their unions.

“Governor Bruce Rauner believes state employees are overpaid and receive excessive benefits for their public service. He wants to cut their wages and benefits,” the lawsuit states. “The Executive Order is expressly intended to prevent ‘Illinois state employee unions’ from ‘using … fair share fees to … influence …wages, pensions and benefits, that are currently mandatory subjects of collective bargaining under the Illinois Labor Act.”

Later Thursday the unions will file a motion to dismiss Gov. Rauner’s related lawsuit in federal court, pointing out that a state court is the appropriate venue to enforce state law.

In addition to the Illinois AFL-CIO, the 26 unions that are party to the legal filings include affiliates of AFSCME, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Illinois Nurses Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Teamsters, SEIU, the Laborers, the Police Benevolent and Protective Association, the Bakery Workers, the Bricklayers, the Carpenters, the Electrical Workers, the Food and Commercial Workers, the Machinists, the Operating Engineers, the Painters, the Plumbers and the Metropolitan Alliance of Police.

…Adding… The lawsuit is here.

*** UPDATE *** Lance Trover, Director of Communications, Office of the Governor…

“We always expected the government union bosses to fight to keep their stranglehold over Illinois taxpayers in place. These forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers, and the government unions will do anything to keep the broken status quo.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   62 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Manar responds *** Madigan creates school funding task force

Thursday, Mar 5, 2015

* Another blue ribbon commission…

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan on Thursday announced the creation of a bipartisan task force focused on studying the way in which the state distributes funding to Illinois’ public schools.

“Our goal is to strengthen every school across Illinois, so we need to make sure any significant changes are given a thorough review,” Madigan said. “Changes to the school funding formula always raise significant concerns from a number of educators, parents and legislators. We want to make sure we take a good look at proposed revisions to the funding formula to determine how we can best educate students across the state.”

The task force made up of Democratic and Republican members of the Illinois House will discuss how changes in the school aid formula could impact schools throughout the state. While House Democrats have been studying various proposals for several months, Madigan formed the task force because he believes any solution ultimately approved by the General Assembly must be bipartisan and good for students across Illinois.

“When you consider the issues that every community in Illinois is concerned about, state support for schools is right at the top of the list,” Madigan said. “A vital issue like this that affects every public school and the education of about 2 million students deserves an in-depth and proper discussion.”

The bipartisan House Education Task Force will include legislators representing Southern Illinois, the collar counties, suburban communities and Chicago and will be chaired by state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago.

The task force’s first meeting will be at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11 in Room 118 of the Capitol. Madigan expects additional hearings to be scheduled at a later time.

Madigan’s appointments…

Chair: Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago
John Bradley, D-Marion
Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora
Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates
Will Davis, D-Homewood
Marcus Evans, D-Chicago
Laura Fine, D-Glenview
Esther Golar, D-Chicago
Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez, D-Cicero
Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan
Emily McAsey, D-Lockport
Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg
Elgie Sims, D-Chicago

*** UPDATE *** From Sen. Andy Manar…

Two years ago when we began conversations fair school funding, I knew that our the mission would take years of education and work to build a consensus for change. Since that time, there has been clear progress on bipartisan solutions for classrooms across this state. That progress can now be accelerated as leaders in the Illinois House outline specific actions that can be taken to close the funding gap for Illinois schools.

I applaud the leadership of Speaker Michael Madigan in creating a forum for continued discussion that leads to action. His action today confirms that he understands the importance of school funding equity just as clearly as he did when he supported Governor Jim Edgar’s sweeping reforms in 1996. I applaud his continued leadership and the engagement of the House of Representatives as we advance legislation this year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Thursday, Mar 5, 2015

* Both chambers convene at noon today. Watch the bouncing ball with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

* *** UPDATED x1 - Rauner response *** Unions file suit over Rauner executive order
* Could Schneider face a primary foe?
* *** UPDATED x1 - Manar responds *** Madigan creates school funding task force
* Today's number: $1.8 billion
* Question of the day
* Editorial: "Don't fall for Exelon bailout"
* IDOT hiring monitor issues first report
* The Key to Lowering Workers’ Compensation Costs is Insurance Transparency and Oversight
* Under the bus he goes
* Learning the wrong lessons
* Rauner blasts "outrageous" lack of action
* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
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