House approves bill banning state agencies from paying bonuses to non-union workers
Legislation sponsored by Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) would bar state agencies from paying bonuses to non-union members or non-union contractors, and only allow state agency staffers to see extra pay.
Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) said he wasn’t sure if he was reading HB5309 correctly during House debate April 26. After being told by Lilly he was, he called the legislation self-evidently unfair.
“It’s one of those things that you sit there and say ‘Why in the world would we do something like this,” Breen said.
The whole point of a bonus is to offer an incentive, according to Breen, who said the bill itself destroys merit-based promotion, giving a non-union member no reason to do a better job.
“This bill is entirely attacking people who are not part of a union for whatever reason,” Breen said.
Lilly’s bill borders on violating First Amendment rights, according to Breen, who said a non-union member has the constitutional option to exclude himself from a collective bargaining unit.
“This is just a horrendously bad and terrible bill,” Breen said.
Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) was even more upset at the notion of non-union members being barred from bonuses and prefaced his remarks, saying Lilly should not take what he was about to say personally.
Davidsmeyer asked Lilly if someone works up the ranks out of the union, should they not be able to receive a bonus?
“We, the state, the people cannot afford to pay bonuses on top of salaries,” Lilly said, adding offering bonuses to non-union members is just not affordable.
“You are making it a disincentive to step up into management and take the responsibility of those roles,” Davidsmeyer said. “I think if someone works really hard and saves the state money, I think they should be incentivized to go above and beyond to do that.”
Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) said she recalls not being able to receive a bonus for up to five years, but was able to receive an end-of-the-year bonus that was non-pensionable.
“So was that given in regard to this bill,” Bryant asked.
No, answered Lilly, prompting Bryant to say she cannot support the bill.
Rep. Steven Reick (R-Woodstock) said under most circumstances, bonuses are given to compensate for an employee saving money.
“The bonus generally comes out of cost saved; how do you respond to that?” Reick asked.
When Lilly couldn’t respond, Reick said the efficiencies derived by state employees for performing excellently saves taxpayer dollars. When Lilly said it would be permissible if bonuses were given solely through private sector funds, Reick countered again saying if someone saves public money, they should be awarded with some of the public money they saved.
“The people of Illinois cannot afford to pay bonuses on top of salaries,” Lilly said once again.
HB5309 passed 64-45 and was moved to the Senate.