Collective bargaining transparency bill HB 2689 shot down in House Committee

Paul Kersey

Labor law expert, occasional smart-aleck, defender of the free society.

Paul Kersey
/ Labor
March 14, 2013

Collective bargaining transparency bill HB 2689 shot down in House Committee

Yesterday a bill that would allow the public to see union contracts and comment on them before they are signed stalled in committee, becoming yet another victim of pressure from union officials who want to keep the public in the dark about the deals they make. The bill actually had both supporters and opponents from...

Yesterday a bill that would allow the public to see union contracts and comment on them before they are signed stalled in committee, becoming yet another victim of pressure from union officials who want to keep the public in the dark about the deals they make. The bill actually had both supporters and opponents from both parties (votes are listed below). If a handful of lawmakers had been more willing to take a stand in favor of the public’s right to know, the bill might have made it to the House floor.

House Bill 2689, introduced by state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, would have changed the bargaining law so that tentative contracts would need to be posted online for 14 days, and then a public hearing would have to be held, before a contract could be approved. The bill would ensure that terms of a deal would be made public and there would be time for discussion and debate before it was made final.

Union contracts are extremely important. Employee wages and benefits can make up as much as three-quarters of the cost of government. Overly generous terms can drive up the cost of government; much of the state’s current pension crisis is driven by collectively bargained wages and pension “spiking” provisions designed to boost payments after retirement.

Badly drafted work rules can also make government less effective. For instance, the last contract between the state and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees included avery lax attendance policy that allows state employees to blow off work 10 times without any real, lasting penalties. This was very likely carried over into the new agreement, which has not yet been made public.

Opposition to HB 2689 came from government agencies – fire departments in particular – and from unions themselves. Union spokesmen argued that secrecy was required, even during ratification, for the bargaining process to work. (Groups and individuals filing statements of support or opposition are also listed below.)

In reality, Illinois’ secretive process is failing taxpayers with overly expensive contracts and unbearable benefit costs. With so much at stake, the public needs to know what is in these contracts, and they shouldn’t have to settle for secondhand accounts from unions or politicians.  We encourage our readers to contact their representatives and make the case for more transparency in collective bargaining.

Voting (motion to report HB 2689 to full house with recommendation that it pass)

Yes (6)
Katherine Cloonen (D-Kankakee) 217-782-5981
David Harris (R-Mt. Prospect) 217-782-3739
Dwight Kay (R-Edwardsville) 217-782-8018
David McSweeney (R-Cary) 217-782-1517
Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) 217-782-3725
Barbara Wheeler (R-Fox Lake) 217-782-1664

No (14)
Adam Brown (R-Champaign) 217-782-8398
John Cabello (R-Loves Park) 217-782-0455
Fred Crespo (D-Streamwood) 217-782-0347
Monique Davis (D-Chicago) 217-782-0010
Keith Farnham (D-Elgin) 217-782-8020
Laura Fine (D-Glenview) 217-782-4194
Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) 217-782-1717
Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) 217-782-8117
Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) 217-782-2023
Robert Pritchard (R-Sycamore) 217-782-0425
Wayne Rosenthal (R-Litchfield) 217-782-8071
Carol Sente (D-Lincolnshire) 217-782-0499
Kathleen Willis (D-Northlake) 217-782-3374
Sam Yingling (D-Hainesville) 217-782-7320

Groups and individuals indicating support or opposition:

Supporting:

Illinois Policy Institute
Brian Costin (also affiliated with Illinois Policy Institute, but acting in individual capacity)

Opposed:

Unions
SEIU Local 73
Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (IAFF)
Illinois Council SEIU
Illinois Federation of Teachers
Illinois Pipe Trades Association
AFSCME Council 31
Police Benevolent and Protective Association
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police
Illinois Fraternal Order of Police
Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council
United Transportation Union
Laborers’ Midwest Region (LIUNA)

Government agencies and others
Bourbonnais Fire Protection District
Itasca Fire Protection District
Bolingbrook Fire Department
Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire District
Roberts Park Fire Protection District
Brookfield Fire Department
Frankfort Fire District
Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District
Effingham Fire Department
Illinois Principals Association

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