The Illinois House of Representatives fell three votes short of overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1229, a bill that would have removed the governor from the negotiating table in talks to determine future pay and benefits for members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
House Speaker Mike Madigan said on multiple occasions he had the votes for an override.
He was wrong.
The veto stood thanks to the willingness of three Democrats – state Reps. Jack Franks, Ken Dunkin and Scott Drury – not to vote to overturn the governor’s veto.
Dunkin told ABC 7’s Charles Thomas he was in New York City and would not be returning this week. He also raised questions about SB 1229, saying: “The budget debates in Springfield had not adequately addressed black community issues.”
Franks told the Northwest Herald, “I didn’t support the override, or either side. I wanted these guys to work it out.”
Drury told the Chicago Sun-Times he didn’t support the override either.
“I came to the conclusion that this bill was bad policy for labor,” Drury said. “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.”
The Illinois Senate voted to override the governor’s veto on Aug. 19. If the House had followed suit, an unelected and unaccountable panel of three arbitrators, not the governor, would have set the terms of the next contract, which would cost the cash-strapped state billions in additional spending.
SB 1229 was bad policy first and foremost, but it was also explicitly political, as it would apply only to “collective bargaining agreements, expiring on or after June 30, 2015 but on or before June 30, 2019.” In other words, it would’ve only applied during Rauner’s tenure and would’ve sunsetted shortly thereafter.
Now, the state must get back to the business of negotiating a new AFSCME contract.
The union’s previous contract expired on June 30, and AFSCME is in the process of negotiating a new contract with the state – the union agreed to two extensions of the existing contract, covering 90 additional days of work. According to a memo from the governor’s office, AFSCME’s leaders are pushing for four-year raises ranging from 11.5 to 29 percent, a 37.5-hour workweek, five weeks of vacation and enhanced health-care coverage.
AFSCME’s current contract extension is set to expire Sept. 30. At that point, the union will either have to extend the previous contract again, or come to an agreement with the governor on a new contract.
Rauner has already come to a new contract agreement with the Teamsters. The union, understanding the state’s dire fiscal straits, engaged in honest negotiations, and agreed to a four-year salary freeze in return for incentive bonuses, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Teamsters Joint Council President John T. Coli had this to say:
“Members of the Rauner Administration proved to be tough, but reasonable and honest negotiators. They compromised and gave concessions to us in order to reach an agreement that was fair to the state as well as the Teamsters. Our negotiations prove that when both sides come to the table and leave political agendas at the door, the citizens of Illinois benefit”
No matter what happens, the failure to override Rauner’s veto of SB 1229 signals a shift in the Statehouse away from the absolute power of the status quo. Despite Democrat supermajorities in the House and Senate, legislation to achieve the reform Illinois needs is still in play because of open-minded Democrats in swing districts.
Now that SB 1229’s fate is settled, it’s time for AFSCME and Rauner to work together toward a contract that Illinois taxpayers can afford.
Hilary Gowins Yelvington is an editor at the Illinois Policy Institute.