A state lawmaker who represents a large number of government workers says he remains against efforts to bring in an outsider to help negotiate a new union contract.
Republican house member Tim Butler of Springfield says the matter should be decided in talks between the Rauner Administration and the union known as AFSCME. He voted this spring against allowing an independent arbitrator to get involved:
"I think they are kind of jumping the gun here. The Quinn negotiations rolled on for about 18 months. I don't think neither the administration nor AFSCME want 177 members of the General Assembly to get involved in their negotiations," Butler said in a public radio interview.
But the union and the Governor remain far apart. An AFSCME memo posted on the CapitolFax website last week listed points of contention, including Rauner's effort to scrap pay raises and reduce benefits. That has led to speculation of a work stoppage, either a lockout or a strike.
"I've had many meetings with folks from AFSCME, especially over the last week and a half or so. What I have told them and what I have told the Governor's office as well is they need to continue sitting at the bargaining table and negotiate, even if both sides feel the other isn't moving much," he added.
AFSCME members are working under the previous agreement. It had expired, but was extended through July.
Our conversation with Rep. Butler also touched on the state budget impasse, the potential closure of the Illinois State Museum and more.