Unions are getting another chance to negotiate on a measure that would prevent thousands of state employees from joining one, and eject thousands of others from it. It's an effort by Governor Pat Quinn to curb the growth of unions.
His administration says it's necessary for the governor to more effectively manage state government. Quinn says more than 96 percent of the state's workforce is unionized. The Illinois Senate yesterday approved the legislation. Because the House had already approved it, the plan was supposed to go to the Governor. Instead at the last minute, Democratic Senator Don Harmon of Oak Park used a parliamentary procedure to prevent that:
"The Governor I believe is clearly entitled to assemble a management team that is responsive to him and pursues his policy objectives. And on the flip side unions representing public employees should vigorously represent public employees who report to the governor's management team. It's a question of where we draw the line between so that both sides can do their job."
Harmon says he has negotiated the measure for years, and hopes the Senate's action will "reinvigorate" discussions.
He says after he's convened talks in coming days, he'll decide whether he'll lift the hold. That has to be done by Wednesday, otherwise, with the General Assembly's session is over, the bill would be dead for good. The state's largest government-employee union, AFSCME, calls the proposal an anti-union blow.
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