Jacksonville’s state representative is responding to a Springfield newspaper editorial saying his vote last week on a union arbitration bill was an act of “cowardice”.
The Springfield Journal-Register opined that C.D. Davidsmeyer, along with several other state representatives, “chose to abstain from hard work of legislating” when they voted “present” instead of “yay” or “nay” on Senate Bill 1229.
That bill would let an arbitrator decision on contract negotiations between Governor Rauner and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees be a binding one. Ultimately, the bill failed in the House, with no Republican voting “yes”.
The newspaper also claimed “voting present is more about self-preservation than it is about doing the job.”
Davidsmeyer says he was surprised by the newspaper’s comments.
“They haven’t been paying attention at all this year. Every vote that’s been taken in the House has been purely political,” Davidsmeyer says.
“Senate Bill 1229 was a bill where I’m being asked to predict the future, I’m being asked to predict what the intentions of the governor and what AFSCME will do if a bill such as that passes. Both are saying they want to negotiate, and by that bill not passing, they can continue to negotiate,” he continues.
Davidsmeyer believes the Rauner administration has no intent to walk away from the negotiating table.
“I required a letter from the governor that said that he will…continue to operate under the current contract, and no strike, no lockout. And the governor gave me that letter, and that gave me a little bit more comfort that he is not pushing for a lockout or a strike,” he says.
Complaints about Davidsmeyer’s “present” vote came last week when we initially reported the SB1229 vote on the WLDS-WEAI News Facebook page. Davidsmeyer says he understands the concern from AFSCME employees.
“My ‘present’ vote means that right now, I can’t support overriding that veto, but in the future, if I see that somebody is bargaining in bad faith, can I vote ‘yes’? Yes, I can, if somebody is truly bargaining in bad faith and they’re not truly negotiating, then I can change that vote,” Davidsmeyer states.
“The problem with a certain ‘no’ is that if you change that, you’re a flip-flopper, and they call you whatever they want to call you. But, the reality is, right now, I believe the negotiations are the best route forward,” he adds.
When the bill was called up for a vote in the Senate, Jacksonville’s State Senator Sam McCann voted in favor of the bill, drawing the ire of Governor Rauner. McCann told us he voted that way because of the large amount of union employees in his district.