SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) – State workers and teachers have staged a week-long, statewide series of rallies to voice their opposition to legislation that limits collective bargaining for state employees.
Hundreds were in Springfield Thursday, where Jeff Bigelow, regional director of AFSCME Council 31, said bills in the Illinois legislature are starting to mirror what’s happening in neighboring states.
“These bills both for education employees and state employees are representative of exactly what’s happening in Wisconsin, exactly what’s happening in Ohio, exactly what’s happening in Indiana,” said Bigelow. “And we’re not going to put up with it.”
State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) is sponsoring a bill that would limit whether certain state management positions can be part of collective bargaining units. She says petitions with the state labor relation board would put too many people in the governor’s office in collective bargaining units.
“At this point, 96 percent of the people who work for the governor’s office are in fact members of collective bargaining units,” she said. “And if petitions now pending were approved, 99 percent of the workforce would be members of collective bargaining units.”
Currie says this is problematic because workers will be loyal to their collective bargaining counterparts rather than a management team outside of those bargaining units.
“I do not consider this to be even close to what’s happened in Wisconsin,” said Currie. “But I do think it’s important that state government needs to manage its workforce, and there are some work sites in the Department of Transportation where nobody’s in charge because everybody’s a part of the collective bargaining unit.”
But Bigelow says Currie’s bill would go even further.
“They’re saying they want to take people out of collective bargaining who currently have it,” he said. “The state’s working now, and it’s working just fine. It’ll work just fine without any further modifications to the law.”
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