A controversial measure that would take away state government’s authority to negotiate employee union contracts and instead use a costly arbitration process, was once again advanced by the Senate this week. The measure passed initially over the objections of Republican lawmakers and Gov. Rauner, who later vetoed the measure. The Senate overrode the Governor’s veto on Aug. 19. The legislation now advances to the House of Representatives, where that chamber has 15 days to act.
Senate Bill 1229, crafted by the state’s largest employee union, would temporarily require an unelected arbitrator to decide the outcome of contract disputes between the Governor and state employee unions. Critics argued the legislation takes away the Governor’s authority to negotiate taxpayer-paid, multi-billion-dollar labor agreements and places it in the hands of a third-party mediator. They also questioned the proposal’s constitutionality.
The Administration estimates the measure will cost taxpayers upward of $1.6 billion. Critics also questioned the interference with the collective bargaining process, blocking unions’ right to strike or government’s lockout authority. Gov. Rauner has publicly announced he will not lock out employees.