Rauner vetoes SEIU-backed bills that would have cost over $100M annually

Heather Weiner

Heather Weiner is formerly the Illinois Policy’s Government Affairs Staff Attorney.

Heather Weiner
/ Labor
July 30, 2016

Rauner vetoes SEIU-backed bills that would have cost over $100M annually

Two bills attempting to provide taxpayer-funded training programs for SEIU would have been costly for the state.

Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed two bills July 22 that would have locked the cash-strapped state into spending millions more for Service Employees International Union-backed training programs, as well as wage hikes and health care contributions for certain care providers and personal assistants.

Senate Bill 2536 would have mandated annual training programs for child care providers involved in the Child Care Assistance Program. It also would have required health care contributions from the state for these workers.

Senate Bill 2931 would have mandated annual training programs for home care providers and personal assistants for individuals with disabilities. It also would have required health care contributions from the state for these workers and would have increased the minimum wage for these providers to $15 per hour, which they would also receive while attending the new training sessions.

Not only would these bills cost the state over $100 million combined annually, but according to the governor’s veto letters, they would also unnecessarily codify provisions previously addressed through collective bargaining negotiations. Legislating these provisions would remove expensive items, such as mandatory paid training sessions, from negotiations going forward – regardless of whether Illinois can afford them. These bills may have been yet another attempt for a union to legislate its way around a governor who is a tougher negotiating partner than union leaders have faced in the past.

Furthermore, the SEIU’s prior collective bargaining agreement for personal assistants and home care providers, which expired June 30, 2015, already gave the union the right to run mandatory orientation trainings. Not only did the state agree to pay up to $2 million a year for these orientations, but the contract guaranteed the union 30 minutes at each training to advocate for membership and collect applications. Interestingly, enforcement of these training sessions began shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that these very providers could not be forced to pay union dues to SEIU.

This legislation looks like an attempt by SEIU to lock in and build upon concessions obtained through past collective bargaining. The bill doesn’t explicitly mention union-recruitment time, but if SEIU works that language into the next contract, the bill’s requirement that training happen in-person would have guaranteed more opportunities to pressure providers to join – all funded by taxpayers.

Both bills may come up again in November or December when the General Assembly meets to take up bills the governor vetoed. In the spring legislative session, though, neither bill passed with the 71 votes needed in the House to guarantee a veto override.

Illinois Policy Action opposed both pieces of legislation, which would codify costly, taxpayer-funded training sessions that have provided little added benefit to attendees, but significant recruiting opportunities for SEIU.

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