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August 5, 2003

Blagojevich signs bills to strengthen public and educational workers’ rights to unionize
Governor moves to protect low income and migrant workers from temporary labor exploitation

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed three labor bills designed to strengthen the rights of public and educational workers to organize and another law to protect low income and migrant workers from exploitation.


“There is a fundamental right for workers -- including those who are employed by government agencies -- to be able to form a union of their choosing for collective bargaining,” Blagojevich said at a bill signing ceremony at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.  “These bills protect and -- in one case -- restore that right. ”


Senate Bill 1360 reverses a 1995 amendment that had forced the University of Illinois academic faculty to follow different union organizing rules than any other public university in the state.  With the signing by the governor, academic faculty at the university’s three campuses – Chicago, Springfield and Urbana/Champaign – now can organize as three separate bargaining units rather than as single unit, which had impeded attempts to unionize.


An amendment to the Educational Labor Relations Act seven years ago had been passed by the General Assembly to abolish an elected faculty bargaining unit at the university’s Springfield campus.


The other union-related bills approved by Blagojevich – House Bills 336 and 3396 – assist local governmental and educational employees to form and maintain bargaining units.


House Bill 336 protects the rights of local governmental employees to continue union representation in the event that employment fluctuations bring them below the 35-employee threshold for coverage under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act.  The act, which regulates

labor relations and collective bargaining for public employers, now provides that if that if there were 35 or more employees at the time a petition for union recognition is filed, the unit shall remain certified even if the number of employees dips below 35.


House Bill 3396 provides automatic union recognition to public and educational employees if a majority of the workers sign cards indicating their desire to be represented by a union -- eliminating the need for a separate election.  Once an educational, state or local labor board verifies the cards meet the requirements of the law, the union would be automatically recognized.


“This bill will streamline the organizing process and ensure the rights of employees are protected, while putting an end to delaying tactics and lengthy and costly legal disputes,” Blagojevich said.


Previously, at least 30 percent of the workers had to sign authorization cards and the labor board then would conduct a secret ballot election.


The fourth bill signed by the governor – House Bill 310 – improves the enforcement of the Day and Temporary Labor Service Act by prohibiting third party employers from entering into contracts with temporary or day labor agencies not registered with the state.  The legislation also improves the Illinois Department of Labor’s ability to enforce the law by allowing them to inspect contracts for temporary employment entered into by third party employers.


“This is part of an ongoing effort to clean up the day labor service industry, which is frequently cited for violating labor laws and exploiting low-income and immigrant workers,” the governor said.


House Bill 310 was sponsored by state Reps. Susana Mendoza, D-Chicago; Maria Antonia Berrios, D-Chicago; Frank Aguilar, R-Cicero; and Cynthia Soto, D-Chicago; and state Sens. Miguel del Valle, D-Chicago; Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, Tony Munoz, D-Chicago; and Iris Martinez, D-Chicago. House Bill 336 was sponsored by state Reps. Steve Davis, D-Bethalto; and Larry McKeon, D-Chicago; and state Sen. William Haine, D-Alton.  House Bill 3396 was sponsored by state Reps. McKeon and Lou Lang, D-Skokie; and state Sens. Sandoval and Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago.


Senate Bill 1360 was sponsored by state Sens. Edward Maloney, D-Chicago; and Larry Bomke, R-Springfield; and state Reps. McKeon; Connie Howard, D-Chicago; and Art Tenhouse, R-Liberty.



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