Alton, IL

Arbitration Bill Heads to Governor

Story by WBGZ Radio

It’s onto the governor’s desk with a measure Democrats say will keep state government open,  but which Republicans say will lead to tax increases.

House Bill 580, the interest arbitration bill similar to last year’s failed measure, passed the Senate Thursday, but not without debate.

Democratic state Senator Don Harmon said the bill keeps state government open by allowing either side of contract negotiations to declare impasse, which would then trigger binding arbitration.

Republican state Senator Matt Murphy said Democrats and AFSCME are trying to make the governor out to be a bogeyman.

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“But the truth is,” Murphy said, “since he’s been governor his actions show he wants to get a deal done.”

Murphy cited agreements the governor has reached with more than a dozen unions.

It’s been more than eight months since AFSCME’s contract with the state expired. In its place, an agreement allows either side to seek a ruling of impasse from the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

Gov. Rauner’s administration has filed such a request, while the union argues there’s still progress to be made at the negotiating table.

Democrats disputed Republican claims that a measure allowing binding arbitration for state employees would take resources away from social services.

Republican Senator Matt Murphy said the measure would cost taxpayers $3 billion, which will take money away from important social services.

However, Democratic Senator Daniel Biss said it’s not just AFSCME employees that stand to gain, but relatively low-paid home health care workers represented by the SEIU Healthcare union who also would benefit.

“It will allow this very large number of people who provide crucial services at extraordinarily little compensation to move forward, continue to do it and to do by having a fair, reasonable negotiation,” Biss said.

The measure passed along party lines with the exception of Rep. Sam McCann, who broke ranks with fellow Republicans to  vote “yes.”

Senate President John Cullerton said the bill allows for common-sense compromise and would avoid a strike and state shutdown.

However, Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a statement the measure would put taxpayers on the hook for a $3 billion. He argued Democrats were placing special interests over taxpayers.


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