State Roundup: Union memo: Management threatens unsafe working conditions

From Illinois News Network

Little common ground can be found between the state’s largest employees’ union and Illinois’ Governor. That’s according to a memo obtained by WMAY Springfield. The AFSCME Council 31 memo says the Union is pressing for safeguards against what they characterize as “irresponsible privatization”. One provision the memo says Governor Bruce Rauner is pushing for is to allow the employer to lay off bargaining unit employees and bring in vendor employees. The memo also highlights proposed contract changes like doing away with limits on forced overtime, bumping and layoff rights, among others. No economic proposals have been put on the table, according to the memo from the Union to their members, but the memo mentions the planned $700 million is savings from a change in health insurance benefits for state employees in Governor Rauner’s proposed budget. The Union memo also promotes Unity Day coming this Thursday.

Report: GOP supports measure they say corrects IDOT hiring issue

A measure meant to correct hiring issues–like the kind uncovered last year at the Illinois Department of Transportation under the previous governor–has a sponsor. The Associated Press reports Republican State Senator Karen McConnaughay has a measure supported by Governor Bruce Rauner that makes certain positions trump collective bargaining unit rules in an effort to ensure political affiliation is not considered when filling the position. Dozens of political staff at IDOT under former Governor Pat Quinn were put into positions that should have been filled by a selection process outside of Governor appointments. A federal monitor has since been ordered to oversee hiring at the department.

Incoming schools Supt. on funding

Funding problems for the state’s schools won’t get fixed in a year. That’s according to the incoming superintendent of schools for Illinois, Tony Smith. In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this month, Smith was asked changing the school funding disparities to which the superintendent said must happen but won’t be resolved anytime soon. Smith did say that simply spreading money equally around won’t fix the problems of some schools not getting enough state support to provide quality education. The AP’s interview also briefly explored Smith’s take on charter schools, unions bosses, and the new superintendent’s experience with high-poverty urban districts. Smith will take that position from Christopher Koch next month.

U of I spends $30K surrounding VP Biden appearance

A state university dropped several thousand dollars around the recent visit of a high profile speaker. The Champaign News-Gazette reports the University of Illinois spend $30,000 as part of a speech featuring Vice President Joe Biden about reducing sexual assaults. The money wasn’t necessarily for the Vice President’s visit. The Gazette reports the school got temporary bleachers the university plans to reuse. U of I also purchased 500 t-shirts with the slogan “It’s On Us” in an effort to raise awareness about sexual assaults on campuses. This while public universities face large support reductions from the state in the coming fiscal year.

Crop report: Cool, wet conditions didn’t hinder planting progress

Statewide corn planting progressed 16 percent over last week despite cooler and wetter conditions than normal. That’s according to USDA information released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The report says there was nearly a third an inch more rain and temps were nearly eight degrees below normal making just over three-and-a-half days of suitable fieldwork. Despite progress in planting from last week, corn was still behind the five-year average. The weekly reports highlight top soil and pasture conditions, along with updates on statewide winter wheat and oats.

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