Governor Bruce Rauner recently vetoed HB 126 which sought to expand benefit rights for paramedics and emergency medical technicians by defining them as firefighters in municipal collective bargaining agreements.
The bill passed the Illinois Senate 53-1, with local Senator Bill Cunningham supporting the pro-labor initiative. The Illinois House passed the measure 105-3 with local State Representatives Fran Hurley and Kelly Burke voting “yes”.
In the Governor’s veto message sent to the Illinois General Assembly, Rauner said, as he has in the past, that Springfield shouldn’t dictate “unfunded state mandates on local governments.” It is a position long held by the Illinois Municipal League, of which Oak Lawn is a member.
Rauner has argued that he is not “anti-union” but public sector unions such as the Chicago Teachers Union and, the Service Employees International Union, and the American Federal of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have lined up in favor of his opponent J.B. Pritzker. Rauner recently applauded the US Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME.
Gov. Bruce Rauner was the originator of the case, Janus v. AFSCME, in 2015 which successfully overturned 40 years of case law. He filed suit challenging “fair-share agreements,” where unions collect mandatory fees from nonmembers who work under a contract the union negotiated. Governor Rauner contended that the mandatory fees violated the workers’ free speech rights because the union was using the money for political campaigns that the worker may not support.
Rauner was dismissed from the case on a technicality wherein the court ruled he didn’t have an interest in the case as a non-union member. He was replaced by a state employee, Mark Janus, who is covered by a contract negotiated by AFSCME Council 31.
Rauner referred in his veto message to the legislation as perpetuating “the decades of political corruption that has plagued the state of Illinois for too long.”
“Time and again, elected officials have granted sweeping benefits and power to the unions in exchange for campaign contributions and political support, creating a system of entrenchment, waste and bad government,”
Sounding a bit like Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen, Rauner claimed that he has the “utmost respect” for paramedics. At the same time, he said the legislation “widens the already bloated union population in the public sector — increasing the union’s entrenchment and wealth — and puts a significant financial and administrative burden on local governments.”
The Illinois General Assembly is expected to override the veto during the November veto session in Springfield.
Veto Message for HB 126 is below:
To the Honorable Members of The Illinois House of Representatives, 100th General Assembly: Today I veto House Bill 126 from the 100th General Assembly, which expands the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act to mandate that local governments collectively bargain with any paramedics that they employ. Specifically, the Bill adds “paramedics employed by a unit of local government” to the definition of “firefighter” in the Act, making them “public employees” for the purpose of collective bargaining. This Bill would operate as an unfunded state mandate on local governments. Local governments should have flexibility to determine benefit and employment conditions for their own employees based on local resources, needs and labor availability, including the categories of employees with collective bargaining rights. By forcing all local governments to collectively bargain with paramedics in their employ, the Bill limits locals’ ability to control and curb their operations and spending. In addition, this Bill perpetuates the decades of political corruption that has plagued the State of Illinois for too long. Time and again elected officials have granted sweeping benefits and power to the unions in exchange for campaign contributions and political support, creating a system of entrenchment, waste and bad government. Today, Illinois has one of the highest percentages of unionized public employees in the country and offers extremely generous employment and pension benefits. These corrupt bargains are motivated more by the interests of the union leaders and politicians who benefit the most, than by the interests of the individual workers. I have the utmost respect for paramedics in Illinois. Their work is extremely taxing and critical to the health and survival of many Illinois citizens and visitors. This Bill, however, continues the deep political corruption between union leaders and elected state officials that is debilitating this State. The Bill widens the already bloated union population in the public sector—increasing the union’s entrenchment and wealth—and puts a significant financial and administrative burden on local governments. Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return House Bill 126, entitled “AN ACT concerning government,” with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.
Bruce Rauner GOVERNOR