Illinois is considering changes to labor laws to reduce worker protections. This spurred thousands of people to protest the proposed changes in Springfield.
The protestors were from a coalition of unions under the Illinois Working Together banner. They called for an end to the yearlong stalemate on the budget, pay raises and a new contract for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The contract expired June 30.
The protests came after Governor Rauner vetoed a bill that would have allowed an arbitrator to settle the dispute in the event that negotiations reached an impasse. As of this writing, both sides are appealing their case to the Labor Board to determine if negotiations have stalled.
The protestors argue that Governor Rauner’s proposals “would diminish wages, destroy worker protections, and completely wipe out what is left of the middle class [in] Illinois.” The protestors believe that the Governor’s proposals unfairly place the majority of the burden to balance the state budget on workers.
Governor Rauner argues that current pay rates are unsustainable and that reform to collective bargaining is necessary to make Illinois more competitive and business friendly.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says that the current imbalanced budget is the result of years of mismanagement. The Chamber of Commerce, through President Todd Maisch, says that Illinois must adopt “pro-growth” reforms which include reducing workers’ compensation benefits, freezing property taxes, and tort reform.
Companies are seeing the savings from the 2011 workers’ compensation reforms which seem to some to be unstated thus far and could place more burden on the union workers and employees in Illinois.