Rauner Says He Won’t Lockout State Workers, But “I Don’t Control” Potential Strike

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to members of the press outside his office at the state Capitol in Springfield, Ill. on July 21st.

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he won't lockout state workers, saying during a Wednesday news conference that “If I wanted to do a lockout of AFSCME, I’d have already done it”. But the Republican governor says contract negotiations with the largest public-employee union are ``stuck'', and ``I hope we don't have to take a strike, but I don't control that.'' 

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' contract expired June 30. The union and Rauner have agreed to keep workers on the job through September, though contract negotiations have been contentious. 

AFSCME wants lawmakers to override Rauner's veto of legislation that would block public-employee strikes and management lockouts and send any contract-negotiation impasses to binding arbitration. 

Rauner says the bill is "a declaration of war'' on taxpayers. 

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says Rauner's "actions have not matched his words.'' He says Rauner's "extreme demands'' could force a strike. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Rauner plans to lay off at least 171 state employees because of Illinois' budget crisis. 

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says the administration notified public-employee unions this week that the layoffs will be effective Sept. 30. 

She says they are a result of Democrats sending Rauner a budget that's $4 billion short of revenue. Union officials say layoffs could be avoided if Rauner would drop his "extreme political agenda.'' 

The Department of Natural Resources will lose 107 people. Many work for the Illinois State Museum, which Rauner has targeted for closure. 

 There are 17 positions in the Department of Transportation, 24 at the Illinois Commerce Commission, eight in both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and seven at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. 

Story source: WILL