By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will get to trim the size of the state’s public union workforce in his administration, but not by as much as he had hoped.
State Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, quietly removed his legislative hold on legislation that would have allowed Quinn to strip union membership or ban close to 3,400 state workers from joining a public-sector union.
“In the end, the governor made a series of meaningful commitments to me,” Harmon said Wednesday. “I think we’ll still give the governor the tools he needs to run the state. But we’ll (also) protect the rights of rank-and-file workers to bargain collectively.”
Harmon said Quinn agreed to lower the number of public employees who could be “trimmed” from a public unions from 3,400 to 1,900. The Quinn administration is making it clear that 1,900 workers is the maximum who could be impacted, and not a targeted number.The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Illinois’ largest public employee union that represents 40,000 state employees, said the legislation is as anti-union as it comes.
In a statement, the union accused Quinn of union busting.
“This means that some 1.900 union members have now been left entirely at the mercy of a governor who has consistently demonstrated intense animosity toward state employees,” the AFSCME statement says.
But it will be a while before state employees find out who is being trimmed from the union.
Harmon said the state Senate has 30 days to send the legislation to the governor and Quinn has 60 days to sign it. Harmon said part of the delay is to allow for clarifying legislation to be passed through the new General Assembly.
Still the entire process has been kept under the radar. Harmon said he’s not hiding anything, just opting to respect public workers.
“Banging your chest over the difficult decisions is a little difficult to do,” Harmon said. “I understand that we can be proud of our accomplishments. But this has a real impact on real people. We need to be mindful of that.”
The governor’s office did not want to answer questions about the union trimming law, but Quinn’s office has said in the past it needs to limit the number of management, supervisory and policy-making positions that are allowed to join a union.
Illinois’ state workforce is one of the most unionized in the nation, with close to 96 percent of workers belonging to a union.
Contact Benjamin Yount at [email protected]