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House Democratic staff union filing lawsuit against Speaker Welch (Updated x2)

Friday, May 31, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Illinois Legislative Staff Association…

We are the Organizing Committee of the Illinois Legislative Staff Association.

Due to the failure of House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch to deal with his staff in good faith, in spite of numerous good faith attempts on our part since November of 2022, we have come to the conclusion that any further attempts to resolve this dispute amicably would be a waste of time.

Speaker Welch says he was “proud” to stand with us back in October—while the cameras were rolling and the people were watching. Unfortunately, he was also too proud to sit down and work with us once his publicity stunt was over.

The Speaker’s press secretary says his record is clear, and it is—but that’s the whole problem. We are where we are today precisely because the Speaker’s record is clear. Since November of 2022, he and his aides have continually doubled down on obstruction, stonewalling, insincere engagement, political theater and gaslighting. The empty platitudes issued in response to our last release are, in our experience over the last 18 months, par for the course.

We are done waiting for Speaker Welch to take responsibility for the lack of action on the part of himself and his aides. We are done waiting for him to take the initiative to do what is best for his caucus and the people of Illinois. We are done waiting for something more than reluctant half-measures and poorly written messaging bills. Enough is enough.

The people of Illinois deserve a Speaker of the House who lives by his stated values, deals with others in good faith, and has the morals, courage and integrity to do the right thing. Our experiences over the last year and a half have forced us to question whether, in Speaker Welch, Illinois truly has that.

Therefore, we are filing suit to resolve this issue once and for all. As we indicated in our previous release, a legislative staff union has been formed and will negotiate on behalf of willing employees of the Illinois General Assembly. We will not be put off, ignored or gaslit any longer.

We have said that we intend to exercise our right to form a union and today’s action is the next step on that path.

* What plaintiffs are asking from the court

A. Declare that, by the acts set forth above, the Defendant Speaker has deprived Plaintiff Burden, Plaintiff ILSA, and the individual members of the Plaintiff ILSA represented by Plaintiff ILSA here in an associational capacity of their constitutional rights to engage in collective bargaining, as guaranteed by Article 1, Section 25 of the Illinois Constitution, and in doing so the Defendant Speaker has failed to perform the lawful business of the State and acted beyond his lawful authority.

B. Grant such other relief including injunctive relief as may be appropriate against the Defendant Speaker in his individual capacity including but not limited to appointment of a mediator to confer with the parties and assist them in the process of collective bargaining and grant other injunctive relief to bar Defendant Speaker from any act to forestall bargaining with the purpose or intent of depriving them of the constitutional rights guaranteed by Section 25.

C. Grant such other relief as may be appropriate, including an order to Defendant Speaker to post or mail to members of the Defendant Speaker’s staff recognizing and assuring protection of their right under Section 25 of the Illinois Constitution to engage in collective bargaining without reprisal.

Thoughts?

…Adding… The filed version, which has some minor corrections, is here.

…Adding… From the WBEZ story

Whether the bill moves again or not, Burden and other ILSA members want to use what they see as their constitutionally protected right to collectively bargain for wages and benefits.

“Come to the table, man. That’s all we’ve wanted,” he said. “Like, literally, for a year and a half, we’ve been asking you to sit down and talk to your staff. Come talk to us when it’s not a PR opportunity for you, when there aren’t cameras.”

       

35 Comments
  1. - Ex Journo - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:01 pm:

    Good for them!


  2. - No Contest - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:06 pm:

    Typical progressive hypocrisy from Welch


  3. - Socially DIstant watcher - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:08 pm:

    Welch passed a bill and that constitutes bad faith?

    This doesn’t make sense


  4. - Moreland - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:08 pm:

    Chris Welch is a union buster funny enough is heavily financed by labor unions.


  5. - Model T - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:09 pm:

    It’s so odd that Welch has been unable to handle this


  6. - Homebody - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:12 pm:

    I agree with Model T. This seems like something that never should have gotten to this point. It isn’t like we’re talking about raises for 6000 workers at a giant factory here. The longer this lasts, the worse Welch looks.


  7. - Thoughts - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:15 pm:

    They probably should have spelled his name right.


  8. - Um, no - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:39 pm:

    Wasn’t sure that the Speaker could look more ridiculous this week than passing a budget at 4:30 a.m. and then not having the votes for the revenue bill.

    I was wrong. . . . . .


  9. - ILLINI123 - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:39 pm:

    @Thoughts: They did spell it right.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Welch_(politician)


  10. - Blazzzer - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:40 pm:

    Do they not understand how the legislative process works? The speaker doesn’t control the senate. If they wanted the bill passed, what did they do to try to move it in the senate? Did they hire lobbyists? Did they conduct roll calls? Why are they abdicating responsibility for their legislative proposal?


  11. - Springfield Watcher - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:43 pm:

    This doesn’t make any sense. It seems really vitriolic against Speaker Welch, and he is the one that sponsored a bill to give them what they want. They don’t say a single word in this lawsuit about the Senate. This makes me think it’s political and an intentional smear campaign against the Speaker. They have not said a word about Harmon who has been sitting on the bill since last year. Why?


  12. - Capitol Observer - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:46 pm:

    This has to be a joke right? Suing the Speaker in his individual capacity? No one can take this ILSA group serious.


  13. - Mike Smith - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:48 pm:

    This looks like a political attack.


  14. - Pro-ILSA - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:49 pm:

    ===Do they not understand how the legislative process works? The speaker doesn’t control the senate. If they wanted the bill passed, what did they do to try to move it in the senate? Did they hire lobbyists? Did they conduct roll calls? Why are they abdicating responsibility for their legislative proposal?===

    First, the bill wasn’t ILSA’s legislative proposal. Welch came up with it on his own, without involving ILSA. Second, Welch has the power to recognize ILSA without legislation, but refuses to do so. Third, ILSA has tried to get meetings with the Senate numerous times, but they have been ignored.


  15. - fs - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:57 pm:

    Reap, sow, so on and so forth


  16. - ILLINI123 - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 12:59 pm:

    @Blazzzer You realize how much lobbyists cost, right? You don’t seem to have thought this through.


  17. - ILLINI123 - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 1:00 pm:

    ==This looks like a political attack.==

    @Mike: How so?


  18. - Excitable Boy - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 1:02 pm:

    - Do they not understand how the legislative process works? -

    Do you not understand how constitutional amendments granting workers the right to organize works? They don’t need legislation, they allowed that option to play out and the leaders have dragged their feet.

    Good on them for pushing forward.


  19. - JoeMaddon - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 1:03 pm:

    **@Thoughts: They did spell it right.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Welch_(politician)**

    Emanuel is misspelled (adding an extra M) three different times in the lawsuit.


  20. - Blazzzer - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 1:16 pm:

    — Do you not understand how constitutional amendments granting workers the right to organize works? —

    I’ll concede that the bill was not the ILSA’s proposal. My error.

    Does the constitution say that an employer must recognize a union? If not, which law governs how that process works and requires an employer, in this case the IL House of Reps, to recognize the ILSA?


  21. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 1:28 pm:

    ===If not, which law governs how that process works and requires an employer, in this case the IL House of Reps, to recognize the ILSA?===

    I am pretty sure that union contracts can supersede laws here.


  22. - Springfield Observer - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 1:39 pm:

    This seems like a simple understanding of how a bill becomes law. The House has passed the bill. The Senate has sat on it. How is that Speaker Welch’s fault? This seems like total BS to me.


  23. - Benniefly2 - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 1:45 pm:

    My thoughts are they are going to win at least on the first point and like get at least some relief. It would be pretty hard for the court to ignore the constitution that they are supposed to follow.

    I also think that the whole “It’s bad when they do it but good when we do it” thing is a bad look for any political entity that attempts such a thing.


  24. - Learning - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 2:08 pm:

    Agree with Model T. This is out of control.


  25. - Speak For Yourself - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 2:38 pm:

    Everybody is proving why they hate Chris — he’s indifferent to the plight of the people he steps on daily to go to work. After cosplaying as street magician where he made his assistant in the Senate make the sham bill disappear, he continues to play dumb despite claiming to be a friend of organized labor.

    Biggest difference between Speaker Welch & a cardboard cutout is the cutout will maintain eye contact.


  26. - SpiDem - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 2:39 pm:

    Based on how much of a three ring circus the house was this year, I can totally understand the staff’s desire to get some much desired job security.


  27. - Duck Duck Goose - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 2:59 pm:

    The constitutional amendment prohibits the passage laws that interferes with, negate, or diminish the right to organize and collectively bargain. It does not require the passage of new laws nor the recognition of rights that do not currently exist. This is a point that was repeatedly repeated when the amendment was being debated. This lawsuit misses that point.


  28. - it's the law, man - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 3:02 pm:

    -@ Pro-ILSA

    ===First, the bill wasn’t ILSA’s legislative proposal. Welch came up with it on his own, without involving ILSA. Second, Welch has the power to recognize ILSA without legislation, but refuses to do so. Third, ILSA has tried to get meetings with the Senate numerous times, but they have been ignored.===

    He cannot recognize a union because the Labor Relations Act prohibits legislative staff from unionizing. Yes, there’s a constitutional amendment, but the amendment does not automatically require that a public employer recognize a random group of wanna be minions. The Labor Relations Board said as much and it is cited in the filing. What is so difficult to understand about that??

    As for not being able to get a meeting with the Senate — welcome to democracy. Do you know how many constituents, staff, lobbyists, and even members cannot get meetings with senators or senate leadership? They don’t have unlimited time, and they certainly don’t need to get in the middle of what has become a petty public squabble.

    Unlike the House, the Senate doesn’t conduct itself like an episode of Days of Our Lives.


  29. - thoughts - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 3:04 pm:

    == B. Grant such other relief including injunctive relief as may be appropriate against the Defendant Speaker in his individual capacity including but not limited to appointment of a mediator to confer with the parties and assist them in the process of collective bargaining and grant other injunctive relief to bar Defendant Speaker from any act to forestall bargaining with the purpose or intent of depriving them of the constitutional rights guaranteed by Section 25. ==

    I too would like a mediator appointed to help get a bill out of Senate Assignments.


  30. - Blazzzer - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 3:13 pm:

    @ILLINI123 - Lawsuits ain’t cheap either. Snark.

    @Duck Duck Goose - You much more eloquently stated the issues I was trying to address.


  31. - Mike Smith - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 3:14 pm:

    This really sounds like fish bait. Someone is trying to get fired to create a legitimate claim because this certainly isn’t one. If this has really been filed, I actually agree with Duck Duck Goose.


  32. - Norseman - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 3:17 pm:

    Wow, just wow.

    I never thought this was a good idea, but they made their bed. Give the MAGA GOP one moment to gloat, Vasili. One moment only, please.


  33. - Hannibal Lecter - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 3:52 pm:

    The legal history as noted in the lawsuit is accurate. The ILRB has indicated that they do not have jurisdiction over the ILSA because legislative staff is specifically exempted from the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act.

    To the extent that the ILSA claims that the Worker’s Rights Amendment provides a legal cause of action for requiring employers to collectively bargain with the ILSA, that has not been decided and will ultimately be the issue that may be resolved with this case. The specific remedies being sought, however, do not seem to be consistent with the Constitutional Amendment. If anything, the only real remedy that could come from this is an Order that the Speaker and his Management team be required to engage in bargaining with the ILSA. There is nothing in the Constitutional Amendment that requires employers to participate in mediation.

    If the Court does require the Speaker’s Office to bargain with staff, there is no requirement that he accepts any of their demands. This is where it becomes problematic for the ILSA. Many of the rights traditional given to public employee unions are covered in the Illinois Labor Relations Act, but that ILRB has said that the procedures and protections of that Act do not apply to the ILSA. This means that there can be very little that ILSA can do if they are unhappy with the outcome of negotiations as it relates to “wages,
    hours, and working conditions” and the ILSA member’s “economic welfare and safety at work”. This is why the legislation that Welch continues to refer to is so important. Ongoing disputes that cannot be resolved through collective bargaining usually move through other forms of dispute resolution, such as arbitration. No such process is laid out in the Worker’s Rights Amendment, however. This would be the most interesting part of this whole saga since everyone is navigating uncharted territory.


  34. - Echo-chamber - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 4:00 pm:

    I’m not a federal judge, like other commenters here, but the WRA very clearly states workers SHALL have the right to organize and collectively bargain. Period.

    Then adds that no new law shall be passed to diminish that right.

    Leg staff is exempted from the PLRA, so who knows how a Judge will come down here. Regardless, how the Speakers office let it get to this point is mind boggling. Not their best week…


  35. - thunderspirit - Friday, May 31, 24 @ 4:13 pm:

    Not the best look from Welch. He’s usually more savvy than that.


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