Rauner picks fight with first responders’ union

Illinois Capitol News
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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Governor Bruce Rauner is picking yet another fight with a union; this time it’s first responders.

Rauner vetoed a bill he believes would give firefighters unions too much bargaining power. He says the move is the root of corruption in the state.

The Illinois Association of Firefighters says Rauner has it all wrong. The president of IAF says legislation he vetoed simply adds paramedics to the list of public safety workers who would be unable to strike.

The bill itself changes the definition of firefighter to include paramedics. They say the reason for the change has nothing to do with collective bargaining because paramedics employed by a city or county already have strong union rights.

The language focused on a small pool of EMS departments in the state where paramedics don’t also work as firefighters. Menard County falls in that category. They say they don’t see how the bill would have changed anything for them.

IAF released a statement: “Either the governor doesn’t understand the legislation or it’s just another attempt to advance his anti-worker agenda.”

Rauner says the plan would have put a financial burden on local governments and is an unfunded mandate.

Organizations like the Illinois Municipal League, which represents cities and counties around the state, were on the short list of groups opposed to the changes. It’s unclear if it voiced the same concerns as the governor.

As far as the legislature, the plan passed with just a handful of lawmakers opposed. Senator Cristina Castro (D), says she is definitely planning to try to override the governor’s decision when they return in November.

The six counties caught in the crossfire employ about 60 paramedics in total. They include Menard, Morton, Highland, Troy and Union counties. 

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