Senate Overrides Rauner Veto On Union Bill

Aug 19, 2015

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday rebuked Governor Bruce Rauner in his labor negotiations with the state's biggest government-employee union.

After months of negotiations have failed to reach an agreement, unions want legislation that would let an arbitrator resolve intractable disputes.

Rauner vetoed it, saying it would tie his hands. He also promised not to lock workers out.

But Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, says the real fear is that Rauner will demand workers accept "completely unreasonable" terms.

"He will force a strike with no alternative, and then he will fire every state employee," Harmon said, "just like Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers." (Harmon was referring to examples from 2013 of then-candidate Rauner speaking approvingly of Reagan's handling of the PATCO strike.)

Democrats and one Republican — Sen. Sam McCann of Carlinville — voted to override the governor.

McCann's district includes parts of Springfield, and his constituents include thousands of state employees.

"We oftentimes tend to treat the state employees not only as a ping-pong ball, but we also treat them as children in the other room at Thanksgiving," McCann said after the vote. "We think about what we might allow them to have this season, or not."

It remains to be seen whether Democrats in the Illinois House — and possibly a few Republicans — will vote to override the governor's veto.