Ives fights for more transparency in union contracts with Illinois entities
When a union signs a contract with the state, in most instances, Illinois taxpayers are left in the dark until it is agreed upon.
HB 4583 aims to change this. It is being championed by state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).
The bill, which Rep. Ives has introduced every year since she took office, seeks to have the terms of union contracts posted online for a period of 14 days so the public can view them before they are approved. With deals such as Palatine-area Community Consolidated School District 15’s recent 10-year teacher contract flying under the radar, this will stop Illinois residents from being left in the dark until it is too late.
“It seems like every single year some school board goes out of control and puts in place a contract that is outrageous,” Ives told the DuPage Policy Journal. “In this case it was a 10-year deal and once again my bill is brought up saying, 'Why can’t we have this? Why can’t we look at this first? We’re paying for it.'”
While HB 4583 seems like a logical move to thwart these problems, it has repeatedly been shot down by a bipartisan vote, making it impossible to get passed. Ives won’t give up.
“That bill, I will run every single year until I’m out of office or until it passes — one or the other,” she said.
Most of the opposition for HB 4583 comes from unions that want contract negotiations kept out of the public eye and behind closed doors.
“It’s a union deal,” Ives said. “The unions are most opposed to it because they don’t want anybody to know what’s in there until they’ve bamboozled the board into the agreement. They don’t want anybody analyzing it ahead of time.”
HB 4583 is not the only bill that Ives has introduced on this subject. She also launched HB 182 that would have allowed the public to sit in on bargaining sessions. While this bill certainly would have made the public more informed about what is going on with these public contracts, HB 182 has gone nowhere and Ives, feeling that HB 4583 had more support, has let it die for now.
“That bill went nowhere because when I was a brand new freshman, I got a lot of push back on that one from both sides saying, 'We can’t reveal our hand to them ahead of time,'” Ives said. “I felt like I wasn’t going to get anywhere with that one and I had a better chance with this other bill.”
All hope is not lost with HB 182 as state Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) has filed a similar bill that may come to fruition.
For now, Ives will continue pushing HB 4583 and all that it stands for to help the Illinois public become better informed.
“I don’t give up,” she said. “Voters, taxpayers, we’re all super busy and we have short-term memories so they forget about it. All you have to do is get a union-friendly board that will agree to anything these guys put forward without public scrutiny ahead of time. Basically, you have to turn it into a political thing and hope that new members will remember. That’s the problem. That’s literally the problem.”