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Monday Letters: Use arbitration to settle Rauner-union dispute

Gov. Bruce Rauner. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner broke off negotiations with AFSCME, the largest union representing state employees such as child protection workers, first responders and caregivers.

Instead of compromising on a new union contract, Gov. Rauner is trying to impose his own terms. Workers would be forced to accept his demands or go on strike.

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I believe that either outcome — forcing our public servants to accept unfair terms or engage in a disruptive strike — would be reckless and irresponsible. State government is too important to people’s lives.

But there is another way. I introduced House Bill 580 to provide for interest arbitration, a well-respected, fair procedure I have personally used in my career as an attorney.

For 18 years, I have represented school districts and municipalities in labor matters, including at interest arbitration, which is already used to resolve disputes involving fire fighters, police and correctional officers.

In arbitration, the employer and union each pick one member of a panel of three, then agree on the decisive third arbitrator. The panel develops a recommended resolution that the sides can accept — or the employer can reject, resuming the arbitration process.

I’ve found arbitration to be methodical and fair. The arbitrators dive into the issues, understand the proposals and develop a reasonable outcome.

It’s also about equity. Some state employees such as state troopers and correctional officers already have the arbitration option. They tend to be white, male and more highly paid.

Those the governor would force out on strike — who protect kids, serve the disabled and help struggling families — are lower-paid, mostly women and people of color.

That’s unacceptable. I believe the work of all state employees is essential and should be treated as such.

The governor is fighting this bill. It seems he wants to get his way at any cost.

By offering a fair alternative, my arbitration bill offers a better path.

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Hillside

Too much bluster

Donald Trump’s bluster reminds me of his preppy miltary school days where in the event of military action his aim would be to surrender and then try and cut a deal. With so many deferments he certainly learned the art of the deal.

Vincent Kamin, Loop

Hope you’re happy

I just finished reading your editorial, sharply critical of Gov. Bruce Rauner. I must remind you that your paper endorsed Mr. Rauner before the last election. I hope you’re happy. I voted for Gov. Quinn.

Steve Ustaszewski, Belmont-Cragin

Blaming Rauner

For some reason, the Sun-Times always seems to blame everything wrong with the state on Gov. Rauner. Flash Sun-Times, Mike Madigan has kept his nose into everything going on in the state for far too long. If Mike doesn’t like it, it goes nowhere.

While some of Rauner’s ideas are a little off target, there are also some that make sense that should be seriously considered. But not with Madigan running the state. For example, no one in their right mind would force a worker to pay union dues if they don’t belong to a union. But in Mike’s world as long as the unions are contributing millions of dollars to his campaign war chest, they get what they want, and they want non-union employees paying dues just like their members.

Term limits will never even be considered in Mike’s state, but, oh, are they needed.

Jim Guthrie, North Aurora