Binding Arbitration Bill Vetoed

Senate Bill 1229 was sponsored by Democrats and passed the House with 67 votes. (71 votes are needed to override a veto.) It passed the State Senate with 38 votes, more than enough to override a veto.

Here’s what the Legislative Digest says the bill does:

Amends the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act. Provides that with respect to collective bargaining agreements expiring on or after June 30, 2015 but before July 1, 2019 between the State and units of employees of State agencies which are not resolved by the expiration date:

  • mediation shall be initiated within 30 days from the expiration of the agreement or the effective date of the amendatory Act;
  • if a mediator is unable to bring the parties to agreement through conciliation within 30 days of the commencement of mediation or an additional period to which the parties agree, either party may initiate impasse arbitration procedures except that, in determining the jurisdiction or authority of the arbitration panel, arbitration procedures are deemed to have been initiated before the commencement of any fiscal year occurring after the expiration of the agreement;
  • an expired agreement is in full force and effect and conditions of employment may not be changed by action of either party without the consent of the other until a successor agreement is adopted; and
  • the right to strike is considered waived until the convening of the arbitration hearing.

Here is Governor Bruce Rauner’s Veto Message:

Governor Vetoes SB 1229

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rauner took action on the following bill today: The governor’s veto message is as follows: Today I veto Senate Bill 1229 from the 99th General Assembly, which would amend the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act to replace collective bargaining with binding interest arbitration.

For many months, I have advocated that local governments should have the right to determine which subjects are collectively bargained with their public employees.

The response from some union officials is that my proposal would “gut” the collective bargaining rights of those public employees.

Those same union officials proposed Senate Bill 1229, which goes far beyond my simple proposal.

It removes every subject of labor negotiations from the bargaining process and allows unelected arbitrators to impose billions of dollars of new costs on our taxpayers without any involvement of the Executive Branch, the General Assembly, or those taxpayers.

This legislation is undemocratic, it is bad for our budget, and it is unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 1229 is also based on a false premise that our Administration has been unreasonable in labor negotiations and wants to lock-out employees or prompt an employee strike.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Union sign we serve our communityWe have negotiated in good faith with AFSCME since shortly after I took office.

We came with our proposals ready on day 1, and we made significant concessions from our initial proposals, including revising our proposals on management rights, dues collection, holidays, subcontracting, layoffs, and employee pensions.

We asked AFSCME to schedule more frequent weekly negotiating sessions (which they declined), and we voluntarily agreed to extend negotiations even after the current collective bargaining agreements expired on June 30, 2015.

At my request, those “tolling agreements” contain express provisions that prohibit a strike or lock-out during our negotiations.

Today our Administration signed a new tolling agreement that extends negotiations until at least the end of September.

We are working diligently to reach an agreement with AFSCME. Our proposals have also not been unreasonable.

In fact, the proposals we offered to AFSCME are similar to those recently adopted by state employees represented by the Teamsters.

It took only two weeks from the time our Administration first met with John Coli, the President of the Teamsters Joint Council 25, to reach agreement with the Teamsters.

The Teamsters, to their credit, were realistic about the State’s dire financial condition. They cleared their calendars to negotiate around the clock.

They made no outrageous financial demands for large pay increases or new health benefits.

They had no problem agreeing to a 40-hour work week.

We similarly sought to build a strong partnership with the Teamsters in exchange for their concessions.

Bruce Rauner

Bruce Rauner

As I write this message, if AFSCME seeks to impose its current proposal, it would cost our taxpayers an additional $1.6 billion in salary and pension costs and would eliminate $500 million per year in healthcare savings that were part of the overall healthcare savings included in both Democrat and Republican budgets.

If an unaccountable arbitrator awards AFSCME’s contract, the clear losers will be the State’s taxpayers.

And the already-difficult task of balancing the State’s budget in a constitutional manner will become insurmountable, hurting the beneficiaries of State programs and services that would no longer be possible.

We cannot afford Senate Bill 1229. Finally, if enacted into law, Senate Bill 1229 would violate the United States Constitution by retroactively impairing contractual obligations.

In the last round of negotiations, the State and unions entered into collective bargaining agreements that spanned the period from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2015.

Negotiating those contracts in 2012, both sides knew, and bargained with the understanding, that any contractual obligations the parties undertake would expire on June 30, 2015.

Senate Bill 1229 changes that bargain by extending the terms of expired agreements beyond June 30, 2015.

The United States Constitution forbids the State from enacting a law that changes contracts retroactively. Senate Bill 1229 is therefore unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 1229 would cede major financial decisions to unelected, unaccountable arbitrators.

This legislation is bad policy and would derail our efforts to honestly balance the State’s budget and enact meaningful government reforms.

Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970,

I hereby return Senate Bill 1229 entitled “AN ACT concerning State government”, with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.

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