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Lynch: Rauner “waged a ferocious campaign of deception and intimidation”

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* Emphasis in original…

Dear [Redacted],

As you have likely heard by now, last night the motion to override Governor Rauner’s veto of SB 1229 failed in the House of Representatives by a slim margin of three votes. Click here to see how your legislator voted. The override motion had already passed in the Senate.

Thousands of state employees—as well as friends, families and neighbors—rang legislators’ phones off the hook to express support for this common sense legislation that would have provided for binding arbitration as an alternative to a lockout or strike if state contract negotiations break down.

We backed this bill to counter Rauner’s threats to shut down state government—whether by locking out employees or trying to provoke a strike. And we can all be very proud of how far we came in advancing it (virtually right up to the goal line) and in shining a bright spotlight on the disruption and hardship that Rauner’s confrontational tactics would cause.

The governor waged a ferocious campaign of deception and intimidation to defeat SB 1229, trotting out discredited “data” on state employees as “overpaid” with “excessively generous” pensions and health care benefits. He and his allies poured massive amounts of money into paid phone call programs, full-page newspaper ads, and legislators’ campaign coffers.

As a result, not a single Republican state representative voted for the override motion—despite the deluge of calls, emails and letters they received from their constituents in support of the bill. By failing to support SB 1229 they have essentially acted to aid and abet Governor Rauner’s efforts to strip you of your rights on the job and drive down your standard of living.

Just about every Democratic House member voted YES on the motion to override—with one representative checking herself out of the hospital in Chicago and making the difficult trip to Springfield so she could be there to help reach the 71 votes needed. But Rep. Ken Dunkin, another Chicago Democrat, didn’t even bother to show up, opening the door for two suburban Democrats to withhold their support.

Some of the Republican legislators claim that the governor promised them he would not try to impose his harsh demands on employees, but instead negotiate in good faith to reach a settlement at the bargaining table. The question must be asked of these legislators: Given the mountain of lies the governor told throughout the battle over SB 1229, why would anyone believe his promises now?

The Rauner Administration has been holding fast for months to its extreme demands, which include: taking away layoff rights; wiping out limits on mandatory overtime; eliminating all funding for the Upward Mobility Program and other forms of tuition reimbursement; barring negotiations over facility closures; allowing the governor to suspend the union contract whenever he declares an “emergency”; refusing to deduct union dues from paychecks; removing all restrictions on subcontracting; reducing holiday pay; allowing the employer to decrease employee benefits during the term of the contract; and drastically increasing employee health care costs while freezing wages and steps for four years!

Your AFSCME Bargaining Committee will be back at the negotiating table next week—undeterred in our determination to resist the Administration’s unfair and irresponsible demands. We’ll see soon enough whether there’s any indication that the governor will live up to his promise to make a sincere effort to reach a settlement.

Unfortunately, the odds are high that he will not, but instead continue down the path of conflict and confrontation that he’s pursued since Day One of these negotiations.

If that happens, then we will have to begin now to prepare for the strike he is all too likely to seek to provoke.

Our fight has certainly gotten tougher with the defeat of SB 1229. But there’s no doubt that it is a fight we can win. Nearly every union representing state workers—SEIU, IFT, FOP, PBPA, INA, LIUNA, and the Trades Coalition—stood together with AFSCME in support of the veto override and will continue to stand united against Rauner’s efforts to wipe out workplace rights, drive down workers’ wages, and weaken unions.

As more legislators have learned about Rauner’s extreme demands, a growing number have pledged to help in our fight in any way they can. It’s important to remember that despite Rauner spending massive amounts of money and leveraging every last ounce of his political capital, a strong majority of legislators still stood up for state employees and voted IN FAVOR of SB 1229.

And if you travel across this state from one end to the other, our vibrant ‘we support state workers’ signs are a clear indication that the public values the work we do and backs our stand against Governor Rauner’s crusade against working people in our state.

So ignore the governor’s claims of victory today. What counts is what happens in the days to come. If we continue to show the kind of unity and determination that were on full display in the steeply uphill fight that we came so close to winning on SB 1229—then we can without a doubt gain the fair contract that we deserve.

In Unity,

Roberta Lynch
Executive Director

- Posted by Rich Miller   141 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* Rep. Zed’s description of yesterday’s session…

* Your own one-word description of yesterday?

Real words only, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller   138 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 *** Dunkin absence, GOP solidarity behind defeat of child care bill

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* We can debate all day whether the absent Rep. Ken Dunkin was the solely responsible Democrat for the defeat of AFSCME’s “no strike” bill yesterday.

But he most surely was that person when it came to the bill which would’ve rolled back the governor’s administrative rule to dramatically slash the state’s child care assistance program. Gov. Rauner’s rule will block 90 percent of new program intakes by, among other things, lowering the maximum allowable income to just half of the federal poverty level.

All House Republicans stuck with Gov. Rauner yesterday and the bill received just 70 votes. So, if Dunkin had been doing the job he was elected to do, the bill would’ve passed, and it also probably would’ve been pretty tough to keep all the HGOPs off of that roll call when they saw it had enough support.

* From Sen. Toi Hutchinson’s Facebook page

SB570 failed in the House today by 1 vote. 90% of previously eligible families are now without childcare subsidies. A parent who works full time at minimum wage now makes too much to qualify for childcare help. Keep in mind that the only way you qualify is if you work or are going to school. It failed today by 1 vote. My heart is breaking. I have no words. Thank you Representative Jehan Gordon Booth for being my partner in this. We have to live to fight another day.

As she pointed out, the bill is now on Postponed Consideration, so they can vote on it again. However, considering how difficult it was to get 70 Democrats to town yesterday (subscribers know more), without some GOP support this thing is probably going to remain in limbo for a while.

* I asked Emily Miller of Voices for Illinois Children and folks at some other groups why they didn’t put out a statement on the bill’s defeat yesterday and to please send me something I could use today. Here’s Emily’s response…

Hi Rich-

Sorry I didn’t get anything out earlier. I think that I was totally blown away by what happened, and I really did not see the failure of the child care bill coming. I never expected that child care would become such a partisan issue, and I needed to take a beat to figure out where we go from here.

The child care assistance program is a linchpin of the welfare to work program. It’s something that Republicans and Democrats have agreed on for decades. It’s common sense- If people to go to work and move off of welfare, you have to give them the tools they need to be able to do that. That means they have access to safe, quality child care.

Now we are left with the governor’s cuts intact. 90% of new applicants to the child care program will continue to be denied.

We are going to keep up the fight to get the governor’s office to roll back the devastating child care cuts on their own. We are going to continue to show lawmakers and members of the public that the cuts are ruining lives.

Child care is a necessary tool to keep low and middle income families out of poverty. We hope that lawmakers will come to their senses and pass a bill that saves child care in Illinois.

Emily Miller
Voices for Illinois Children

* And here’s the response from Illinois Action for Children…

Illinois Action for Children is disappointed and frustrated that SB 570, Amendment #1 fell one vote short of the required 71 votes yesterday in the House. The bill was introduced in response to Governor Rauner using his executive powers to enact emergency rules to significantly restrict access to the state’s IDHS CCAP; a program designed to support working parents’ access to quality care for their young children. The changes that went into effect on July 1st eliminate access for an estimated 90% of families otherwise eligible - families who are in desperate need for assistance to pay for child care when they are working or in an education or training program.

While we hope to work with Rep. Gordon-Booth to bring this bill back to the House for another vote, its failure yesterday means that parents who finally receive a long-sought job opportunity will be forced to turn it down, school-age children will likely go home alone instead of to a quality Afterschool program, and child care programs who are losing on average 25% of their enrollment to children aging out of the program (and going to school) will continue to close classrooms and programs. The infrastructure to deliver care that Illinois has invested millions of state dollars - in combination with federal funds - and which employs thousands of people will continue to crumble as a result of this failed vote.

It is a sad day when low-income children and working families are being held hostage in the Governor’s quest for his ‘turnaround agenda’ that has resulted in the worst budget impasse this state has seen in many decades. Child care has always been a program with bipartisan support because legislators know, regardless of party affiliation, that investing in our state’s youngest learners has an immediate return on investment for their working parents, and has a lifelong impact on a child’s success in school and in life. Investing in our children is vitally important to this state’s economy and its future.

I also asked Mrs. Rauner’s Ounce of Prevention Fund for comment, but haven’t heard back.

*** UPDATE 1 *** From Ireta Gasner, assistant director of Illinois Policy at Ounce of Prevention…

We are disappointed that the House of Representatives failed to pass SB570, legislation that would have reversed harmful changes to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) put into place through emergency rulemaking by the governor’s administration. Vulnerable children and families were once again held hostage by the budget impasse and political stalemate in Springfield. We commend Senator Hutchinson and Representative Gordon-Booth for their leadership on this issue vital to children’s healthy development and our state’s economic future. Fortunately there are still several opportunities for our elected officials to do the right thing for working families:

    1. First and foremost, we encourage Governor Rauner to rescind the eligibility changes that are locking 90% of previously eligible families out of the system.
    2. We ask the legislature to seek another opportunity to legislatively rescind the eligibility changes.
    3. We call upon the General Assembly and governor to work together to approve a fair, fully-funded budget that adequately funds vital programs like CCAP.
    4. We urge the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to vote against making the emergency rules permanent.

Every day this continues, families are being forced to choose between providing for or caring for their children, children are not receiving the quality early experiences they need to thrive, centers are unfilled or closing, and employees are losing their jobs. This must stop. We call upon all our elected officials, from the Governor to the General Assembly, to ensure the viability of families, communities and our state

*** UPDATE 2 *** Rep. Jehan Gordon…

What was often viewed as neutral ground in the budget making process, the Childcare Assistance Program, has unfortunately become a political football. It is incredibly disheartening to know that we could not get the requisite votes to allow thousands of poor, working families across the state access to childcare. Denying access to 90% of those previously eligible is just not the Illinois that I know. Falling one vote short is just unacceptable. We can do better. For that reason, Senator Hutchinson and I will continue to fight for working families, primarily women head of household, for their opportunity at one day having the American Dream.

- Posted by Rich Miller   133 Comments      

Lang, Rauner to negotiate new med-mar bill

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* Lou…

House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) today issued the following statement regarding an amendatory veto override motion on House Bill 3299, legislation on which Governor Bruce Rauner had, via amendatory veto, reduced the extension of the state’s medical marijuana pilot program extension from two years to four-months.

“Based on a pledge from the Governor’s office to engage in a substantive negotiation to reach a mutually acceptable compromise, I have decided not to seek an override of the Governor’s amendatory veto. I salute the Governor’s willingness to negotiate an agreement that will best serve the interests of patients who are depending on this legislation.”

That’s very good news.

We need more like this, please. The hyperpartisanship this year has been just too much to bear.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Another Day. Another Auction. Another $275 Million For Exelon

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Exelon just received an additional $275 million from the PJM Capacity Auction process – this time for the 2016-2017 transitional auction. This comes on top of last week’s 2018-2019 PJM Capacity Auction which resulted in $650 million in total capacity revenue. As the Tribune reported, Exelon “lobbied hard for the new [auction] rules” and they are reaping the results. More highlights:

  • $675 Million REVENUE INCREASE for Exelon – Exelon is now approaching $1 BILLION dollars in additional revenue for its Illinois nuclear fleet, with one more auction coming September 9th.
  • Byron Cleared Both Auctions – Will Run Through At Least May 2019 –According to a Crain’s analysis, Byron, which Exelon characterized as troubled and in danger of closing just weeks ago, now “…stands to reap profits of around $26 million even if future energy prices remain this low.”
  • Quad Cities Cleared 2016-2017 Auction, Earning More Than $80 Million – Quad Cities cleared the 2016-2017 Auction, ensuring it will run through at least May, 2017. Perhaps Exelon should answer how it was able to offer and clear Quad Cities’ for a fraction of the price for the 2016-2017 auction, but couldn’t offer at the same price for 2018-2019. Is Quad Cities in danger of closing because Exelon chose a different bidding strategy?

Exelon ginned up the new rules and has now received its “market-based” bailout. It doesn’t need another $1.6 billion more from struggling ratepayers. Enough is enough.

 Just Say “NO” to the Exelon Bailout

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Today’s number: 601

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* The previous record for comments on a single blog post here was 422, set on December 30, 2008.

I was having a nice leisurely lunch in South Beach that day, and when I finished I decided to take a stroll along the water.

And then after just a few short strides I suddenly realized that it wasn’t New Year’s Eve, when I figured I’d probably be safe from any major Rod Blagojevich announcements (he wasn’t trying to bury any news back then). It was only the 30th.


So I sprinted back to my hotel, dashed up the stairs instead of waiting on the elevator, pulled my mobile phone out of the room safe and saw I had a ton of missed text messages and phone calls.

Gov. Blagojevich was about to appoint Roland Burris to the US Senate.

After blogging in my room for a while, I moved to a nearby bar and had them change the channel to CNN. They wouldn’t turn on the sound, though, so I missed some important things. And since I was sitting in a beach bar I had more than my share of cocktails, so the post is pretty much a rambling mess. I should’ve broken it up into several smaller posts, but I didn’t for whatever reasons. And now I cringe every time I look at that monster.

* Anyway, I told you that story because y’all smashed the old record with your 601 comments on yesterday’s post about Rep. Dunkin’s absence.

I thought about opening up a fresh thread late yesterday afternoon, but then I decided I’d wait and see if you broke the record so I wouldn’t have to look at that awful Burris post ever again.


- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Six Repubs break with Rauner

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* Because of all the hoo-rah over the AFSCME bill yesterday, an important news item was all but completely missed.

Six House Republicans (Batinick, Bryant, Jesiel, Hammond, McAuliffe, Unes) broke ranks with Gov. Bruce Rauner and their party leadership to help pass HB2482, which blocks the governor’s attempt to change the determination of need scores for a whole host of programs, including the Community Care Program, the Home Services Program, the supportive living facilities program, and the nursing home prescreening project. Also in the legislation

Provides that the State shall not implement an updated assessment tool that causes more than 1% of then-current recipients to lose eligibility; and that anyone determined to be ineligible for services due to the updated assessment tool shall continue to be eligible for services for at least one year following that determination and must be reassessed no earlier than 11 months after that determination… Amends the Nursing Home Care Act. Provides that no individual receiving care in an institutional setting shall be involuntarily discharged as the result of the updated assessment tool until a transition plan has been developed by the Department on Aging or its designee and all care identified in the transition plan is available to the resident immediately upon discharge.

* Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued this press release yesterday…

“We cannot in good conscience change the eligibility standards for our citizens who rely on daily essential services. Keeping the eligibility score at 29 will allow Illinoisans to stay in their homes and receive minimal care instead of forcing people into costly nursing home facilities.

This bill protects 24,000 adults in the Community Care Program and 10,000 persons with disabilities in the Home Services Program by allowing them to keep their care. I applaud its passage and I look forward to its ultimate signing into law.”

Through the safeguards created by this prospective law, service recipients are protected should the eligibility tool change or a new tool be implemented to determine need, which will allow for a gradual transition and less disruption of services.

The legislation has passed both Houses and now moves to the governor’s desk.

* From SEIU…

“This vote provides necessary protections to seniors and people with disabilities who were being forced by the Rauner administration into long-term care or nursing homes and placed in positions that threatened their health and welfare. Kicking 34,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities to the curb was downright cruel. And it was shameless for the Rauner administration to do so administratively when they knew they could not possibly achieve this end through proper legislative channels.

“It’s a shame that this vote was needed in the first place and hopefully serves as a lesson that, in bipartisan fashion, the people of Illinois are not prepared to sacrifice the welfare of our most vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities to a cheap and unprincipled political agenda.”

The governor’s office declined comment this morning.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Chicago finally talking about putting some real skin into the game

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is poised to raise property taxes by $500 million for police and fire pensions and school construction and impose a garbage-collection fee to generate $100 million more, City Hall sources said Wednesday.

The $500 million property tax increase will cost the owner of a home valued at $250,000 roughly $500 more each year. The garbage fee — widely viewed as a back-door property-tax hike — will be a monthly assessment of roughly $11 to $12 per household.

The mayor’s 2016 budget also will include a tax on e-cigarettes and other smokeless tobacco products — roughly equivalent to the $7.17 tax slapped on a pack of cigarettes purchased in Chicago — and a $1 a ride surcharge on Uber and other ride-hailing services. […]

Emanuel has offered to raise property taxes by an additional $170 million for the schools, but only if teachers accept the equivalent of a 7 percent pay cut and the state reimburses CPS for “normal” pension costs. […]

But sources said the mayor is unwilling to put that money on the table until the union and the Illinois General Assembly step up to the plate. That will obviously have to wait until the budget stalemate between Democratic legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has been resolved.

* Tribune

Pension payments this year total about $478 million. Next year, payments to police and fire pension funds will increase by $538 million under current state law, although Emanuel is hoping Gov. Bruce Rauner signs a bill that would allow the city to phase in the higher payments more gradually. Lawmakers approved that bill at the end of May, but have yet to send it to Rauner amid a broader stalemate at the Capitol.

The property tax increase Emanuel is mulling would far exceed what the mayor himself said during the campaign was the largest property tax increase in Chicago history. In 1987, under Mayor Harold Washington, property taxes rose by $79.9 million, which would be $167.8 million in today’s dollars after adjusting for inflation. In 2008, under Daley, property taxes increased by $86.5 million, or $96 million in today’s dollars.

During the campaign, Emanuel attacked his runoff challenger, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, for voting for the Washington-era property tax hike. Now Emanuel is weighing a property tax hike that could triple the one his opponent backed.

- Posted by Rich Miller   91 Comments      

IllinoisGO belatedly weighs in

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* Press release…

Illinoisans for Growth and Responsibility (IllinoisGO) Chairman Anthony Anderson released the following statement regarding the House’s failed veto override of SB 1229:

“House lawmakers did the right thing yesterday. SB 1229 was just another political distraction from solving the real financial problems facing our state. With a $6 billion dollar state budget deficit, each and every line item in the budget must be considered, including the state payroll, and this bill would have made our problems that much harder to solve. IllinoisGO thanks the lawmakers who took this tough vote and urges the General Assembly to get back to addressing the challenges facing our state and to showing real leadership towards enacting solutions.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

It’s not all on Dunkin

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* Sun-Times

The only Democratic no-show on Wednesday was state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago. State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, voted “present.” And Rep. Scott Drury, D- Highwood, was the lone Democratic “no” vote. […]

Madigan said the two other Democrats who didn’t support the bill did so because Dunkin’s absence left an opening.

But that’s not the case, Drury said. He said he researched the issue and consulted with labor experts and decided the long-term implications of the measure were too great.

“I came to the conclusion that this bill was bad policy for labor,” he said Wednesday evening. “The right to strike is sacrosanct.”

“In looking at this bill, whatever short term benefits there may be toward the negotiations today there is a hefty price to pay, which is giving up the right to strike,” he said.

* Reboot

This year, Drury voted for the labor-backed legislation initially, but dug into the topic as the rhetoric intensified, researching it like the former assistant federal prosecutor he is. Drury said he consulted with expert labor law professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and the University of Illinois.

First, he said he learned that Rauner’s claims that arbitration results in higher wages were false. Since the 1970s, nonpartisan academic research shows wages achieved through arbitration and those resulting from collective bargaining are about the same. […]

At one point, he said, he asked a teachers’ union member if they would sacrifice their right to strike if the proposal were amended and teachers were included in it and the answer back was a swift, “Absolutely not.” […]

And while Madigan told reporters state Rep. Ken Dunkin of Chicago’s unexcused absence was to blame for the bill’s failure because it gave other Democrats an excuse to peel off the union plan, Drury tells a different story.

He might have told a House Democratic staffer he still was doing his research, but Drury said he never indicated how he’d vote and never talked to the Speaker about how he might vote.

* NW Herald

Franks said he voted present because he couldn’t agree with either side on the matter – he did not vote on the bill when it first came to the House, either. He said he worked “furiously” to convince Rauner and AFSCME to come to a compromise.

“I didn’t support the override, or either side. I wanted these guys to work it out,” Franks said after the vote.

* And it’s not all about the Democrats, either. Erickson

The 68-34 vote was a tough one for some Republicans, many of whom represent areas with large union voter blocs.

State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, was in the chamber but did not cast a vote. She is a former member of AFSCME.

State Reps. Tim Butler and Raymond Poe, both Springfield Republicans with large state worker constituencies, voted “present.”

Not casting a vote is just plain ridiculous. I mean, the constant “Present” votes are bad enough, but pick a lane, already. Sheesh.

* Kasich

“Had Mister Dunkin been here there would have been 71 Democrats voting for it,” said Madigan. “He should have been here today, voting on this bill for labor peace. Like all members of the General Assembly he makes his own decisions.”

He declined to say whether Dunkin would lose his committee chairmanship as a result of his absence.

“Look, I’m not going to go there,” he said.

* But

It wasn’t the first time Dunkin, a 13-year veteran lawmaker, was absent for a high-profile vote. In 2009, Dunkin missed the impeachment of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The lawmaker, who was a Blagojevich ally, was on a cruise in the Caribbean, according to reports at the time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   141 Comments      

Caption contest!

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* From Facebook

Leave the civilians out of your comments, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   117 Comments      

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Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

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Rauner react

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* Press release…

Governor Bruce Rauner issued the following statement following the House’s vote to sustain his veto of SB 1229:

“I want to thank every House member who stood with taxpayers today. It is encouraging that many legislators recognized the dire financial impact this legislation would have had on our state.

While House members chose to help us avoid digging a deeper financial hole, we still have a lot of work to do and time is of the essence. We have now entered our third month without a balanced budget, which only the legislature can pass, and court orders have shown that I can’t simply reduce the budget and balance it without legislative changes.

I hope today’s action marks the beginning of serious negotiations over how we can deliver needed structural reforms and a balanced budget.”

* The Illinois Chamber also issued a release…

“The Illinois Chamber of Commerce commends the legislature for standing up to its responsibility to hold the line on spending. Because of this vote, state government will not require binding arbitration for impasses in state employee union negotiations. If it had passed, state employee pay raises would have been on cruise control, careening the state further into the red when the state needs to cut costs to meet revenue. At a time when private sector employees are lucky to see small raises if any, state government union contracts can demand double-digit raises during the life of a contract. We can’t have that anymore.

I appreciate the lawmakers who voted no so that Gov. Bruce Rauner and his administration will be in charge of determining what taxpayers can afford when it comes to salaries and benefits. This bill would have represented an irresponsible abdication of responsibility in managing state costs. It makes sense that the person ultimately elected in Illinois to manage the state’s expenses have the authority over negotiations. ”

- Posted by Rich Miller   118 Comments      

Organized labor’s response

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* Press release…

Rauner’s political assault defeats fair arbitration bill
By slim margin, House fails to override veto after unprecedented threats to legislators

Following an intense barrage of false claims about the fair arbitration bill by the Rauner Administration, naked threats of political retaliation by the Republican leadership and paid attacks by right-wing super-PACs, the Illinois House of Representatives today fell three votes shy of the 71 needed to override the governor’s veto and enact Senate Bill 1229.

Although the bill did nothing more than extend to child protection workers, nurses, caregivers, emergency responders and other state employees the same independent arbitration process provided to police, fire and other public safety personnel in Illinois for more than 30 years, the Rauner Administration justified its veto with an array of false claims about the bill’s provisions, constitutionality and potential cost, as well as unsubstantiated ad hominem attacks on the independence and fair-mindedness of arbitration professionals.

Multi-million-dollar super PACs allied with the governor — including Turnaround Illinois and the Koch Brothers-funded Americans For Prosperity — flooded legislative districts with robocalls and attack ads that repeated many of the same false claims, confusing voters about the bill’s true intent.

In reality, public service workers and their unions supported SB 1229 to help avert the potential conflict, hardship and disruption of a statewide strike or lockout by offering arbitration as an alternative means of resolving contract disputes between state employees’ unions and the Rauner Administration if ongoing negotiations fail to produce agreements.

Finally today, House Republican leadership publicly threatened rank-and-file lawmakers with political retaliation if they voted to enact the bill–a threat that longtime statehouse watchers called unprecedented in its brazenness.

“The governor’s ferocious and false attacks on this moderate and responsible bill clearly show he wants conflict, not compromise,” Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said. “The governor’s assault on this bill may have won the day but poisoned the well for legislators of both parties who want to work together responsibly to solve problems and serve the people of Illinois. It is clear that Governor Rauner will stop at nothing to carry out his scorched-earth agenda against working people, their rights and well-being.”

“Day in and day out, public service workers in state government keep us safe, care for veterans, protect kids and much more,” said Roberta Lynch, executive director of the largest union of state employees, AFSCME Council 31. “State employees don’t want to be forced out on strike, but we’re determined not to let Governor Rauner undercut workers’ rights, jeopardize workplace safety or threaten the economic security of working families.”

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. More recently, the governor has made stripping the rights of workers to bargain collectively a precondition of enacting a state budget. And in a possible signal that he is preparing to provoke a work stoppage, the Rauner Administration has solicited retirees to serve as strike breakers and reportedly considered mobilizing the National Guard.

The governor’s assault on the arbitration provisions of SB 1229 has now derailed the best hope of amicably settling union contracts that are fair to all.

“The Illinois labor movement will remain united,” Carrigan said. “Even though today’s outcome is deeply disappointing, we appreciate that the vast majority of legislators stood with working people and did the right thing. Our fight to protect the middle class from the governor’s extreme agenda is only just beginning.”

* Another one…

Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher following the House veto override vote Wednesday on Senate Bill 1229.

“Rauner Inc. spent a lot of time and effort mischaracterizing this legislation, which would have prevented damaging service disruptions forced by the bargaining approach Rauner has chosen, specifically in hopes that no deal will be reached. Yet despite Rauner’s threatening and bullying of both Democrats and his fellow Republicans in unprecedented ways - leveraging limitless money and every last ounce of his political capital - a strong majority still voted to in favor of these common sense reforms.”

“Now that this fight is over, we hope that Bruce Rauner heeds the advice of Gov. Jim Edgar and other Republicans to abandon his “my-way-or-the-highway” approach and come together with legislative leaders to fashion a budget that benefits all Illinoisans-not merely a political document that punishes his enemies and satisfies his extreme ideology.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   100 Comments      

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