* From AFSCME Council 31…
At the end of last week, seven House Republicans sent a letter to our union and to Governor Rauner, urging the governor to come back to the bargaining table and resume negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement for the 38,000 state workers represented by AFSCME. The governor has refused to even meet with our union since he broke off talks on Jan. 8, and “this stalemate will continue to hurt all interested parties,” the representatives wrote.
In the public interest and in the interest of fairness, AFSCME immediately reiterated our union’s willingness to participate in renewed negotiations. We also urged the lawmakers to support their statement with action by committing to enact a fair arbitration process if the governor again refused to negotiate. Giving all state employees the same option of an impartial arbitrator to help settle differences between the parties—a process in place for tens of thousands of public safety personnel statewide for more than 30 years—would encourage a negotiated resolution and ensure against a harmful strike if no such resolution could be reached.
But the very next day, Governor Rauner’s office rejected the legislators’ letter and again falsely attacked our union, an occurrence that has become all too commonplace. This morning, the Republican Party’s political apparatus sent a press release echoing many of the same false attacks.
It is extremely regrettable that the governor is unwilling to bargain. It is outrageous that his party is distorting the facts to try to score political points at the expense of public service workers.
Now more than ever, Illinois and its people need serious governance, not political stunts. Governor Rauner’s refusal to negotiate is yet another failure of leadership. His party’s readiness to bolster his confrontational posture toward his own workforce in the midst of one of the biggest crises our state has ever confronted shows how disordered its priorities have become.
Lawmakers of both parties say they want a negotiated settlement that is fair to all. That is what AFSCME members have always sought, but we cannot do it alone. Since the governor refuses to negotiate, it is time for these seven House Republicans to move beyond rhetoric and take action by committing to vote to reject partisan politics, embrace responsible governance and enact the fair arbitration bill.
* From the IL GOP earlier today…
Days after passing a $7 billion budget deficit, the largest in Illinois history, House Democrats may reconsider a motion to override the Governor’s veto of HB580, a bill the Herald & Review says would have a $3.6 billion cost to taxpayers. With only hours left in session, Democrats in the General Assembly would rather pass bills that force massive tax hikes instead of a balanced budget with structural, job-creating reforms for state government.
HB580, a reincarnation of SB1229, would remove Governor Rauner from the negotiating table with public employee unions for the duration of his first term in office and put in place an unelected, unaccountable arbitrator who would have the power to force a massive $3.6 billion tax hike on Illinois families. Even though the motion failed to muster enough votes to pass twice, the House may consider it for a third time. […]
“House Democrats, why can’t you take no for an answer?” said Aaron DeGroot, Illinois Republican Party spokesman. “Instead of voting to force massive tax hikes on working families for the umpteenth time, come to the negotiating table and fulfill your constitutionally-mandated duty. Choose Illinois over Mike Madigan and pass a balanced budget with job-creating reforms to state government. Illinois is counting on you.”