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SPRINGFIELD - State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) today voiced frustration in the irresponsible political posturing that continues to take place in Springfield, resulting in an unsustainable approach to the budget process.  The instance occurred in the form of a Monetary Award Program bill (MAP grant) that was presented before the House, which included neither a funding mechanism nor the support of the governor who has promised to veto the bill.



State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) filed HB 4362 yesterday afternoon: A bill that would require the State of Illinois to provide the ACT test to any high school junior who wishes to take it for purposes of measuring and demonstrating college readiness.   This legislation comes after the unexpected decision made by the Illinois State Board of Education to abandon its long and successful history with the ACT by instead entering into a three-year contract with SAT.  The ACT has long been the preferred college-readiness exam in states like Illinois, as it is accepted by every post-secondary institution in the nation, unlike the SAT. 


Pekin, IL ... Rep. Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) announces the hiring of his new Legislative Aide, Tiffany White, a Pekin native and experienced constituent casework manager.

Tiffany White will be joining Rep. Unes’ Pekin District Office staff on October 1st.  She joins the legislative office after serving previously as Executive Director of Pekin Main Street for the past 14 months, where she will remain as a member of its Board of Directors.  Tiffany previously served the public in a constituent casework and outreach role with US Congressman Aaron Schock.

“I am excited to have Tiffany White, an experienced constituent casework professional join our Pekin District Office staff.  I know she will hit the ground running and be a wonderful addition to my staff as well as a great emissary to constituents and organizations in this district,” said Rep. Mike Unes.

Tiffany brings with her a breadth of experience in constituent casework, project management, and outreach.  While serving as Executive Director of Pekin Main Street, Tiffany oversaw the organization’s various committees, coordinated special events, worked on fundraising and membership building, and educated the community about the organizations purpose.  At the 18th Congressional District office, her role included casework and coordination of outreach events for over five years until June 2014.

“I am very pleased to be joining Representative Unes' staff.  I have long admired his commitment to top notch constituent casework, in addition to his legislative principles.  Representative Unes has a remarkable reputation for bringing integrity into the legislative process, carefully considering all aspects of complicated issues with the best interest of his constituents in mind.  It is evident that he cares deeply about our district, and this opportunity to support his efforts in making a positive difference is a unique privilege for me,” said Tiffany White.

In the community, Tiffany is an active member at St. Paul United Church of Christ, a member of Kiwanis Club of Pekin and a member and current Chairperson of the Community Relations Board for the Federal Correction Institution at Pekin.  She is a 2005 graduate of Pekin Community High School and a 2008 Graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She and her husband, Ben, live in Pekin with their one-year old daughter.

For more information on this or any other state issues, contact Rep. Unes’ Pekin District Office at 309-620-8631.
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Pekin, IL ... State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) on Friday commended progress made between  AFSCME (American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees), and the Governor for coming to an agreement on an indefinite extension of the tolling agreement, relieving fears that negotiations will end on September 30th.

Yesterday, the Rauner Administration and AFSCME agreed to an indefinite extension of the tolling agreement that was set to expire Sept. 30th.  This is an enforceable, binding contract that Rep. Unes personally intervened on to secure an indefinite extension commitment from the administration. “I am proud to have helped secure this agreement in a timely fashion,” said Unes.

Unes announced last week he had worked to secure a written agreement by the Governor to an indefinite extension of the tolling agreement in order to avoid an unnecessary work interruption.  “The concerns and comments made by public employees did not fall on deaf ears.  I listened and took them to heart.  I believe that with this important letter of commitment, there is a stronger likelihood of an agreement within the current collective bargaining framework.  I now ask both sides to take a renewed effort to collectively work together toward an agreed contract,” Unes continued.

Last week, Unes explained, “Both sides say they do not want an impasse, lockout, or strike.  Both sides state that they want fair negotiations to continue.  One of the most consistent concerns I have heard from public employees has been that the Governor will force a strike by issuing a ‘last and best’ offer when the current Tolling Agreement expires on September 30th.  I personally took this concern to the Governor.  Yesterday’s agreement prohibits a unilateral implementation of what is known as the ‘last, best and final offer’.  To do so without mutual consent or approval of the Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB) would violate this tolling agreement.  I am proud to have heard public employees on this issue and through my personal intervention I fought hard to secure this additional commitment from the Administration.”

Rep. Unes hopes that this show of cooperation will keep both parties at the negotiating table until a final agreement has been reached in order to avoid further interruption to state services to our most vulnerable residents.

For more information on this or any other state issues, contact Rep. Unes’ Pekin District Office at 309-620-8631.
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Thank you to those who reached out to me on SB1229.  I appreciated the many points of contact and am thankful to be able to better understand the concerns, on both sides of this issue.  Please read the letter that will be mailed to all who contacted me by clicking on the link below.  After reading my letter, please also read about my behind the scenes efforts to try and help alleviate the main concerns by reading the other posted letter.  Again, I heard a lot of feedback from all sides of this debate.  I especially want to say "thanks" to so many of you that, together, we were able to have professional and productive conversations.

Text from Rep. Unes' letter:



Thank you for contacting me regarding SB 1229; a bill that would amend the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act to allow binding interest arbitration in the collective bargaining process.

I received a great deal of feedback on this bill from all sides of the issue. Please know that your feedback is helpful and greatly appreciated. When it comes to forming my decision, I do not do so lightly. I keep an open mind and seriously weigh both sides. I have always stated that, while we may not agree on every issue, you will always get an open mind from me.

There has been a lot of information on this bill put out by many different parties. I want to explain the reasoning behind my vote to not support SB 1229 and how I came to my decision.

To begin, I am proud of my voting record on bills supported by state employees. I have fully supported legislation that would make back-pay payments to all state workers that are owed these funds. Back-pay for state workers is the State’s oldest bill and must be paid. State workers deserve this pay for the services they have already provided and I will continue working to solve this issue.  I have also voted with public employee unions against Senate Bill 1313 (Retiree Healthcare Premiums) and against Senate Bill 1, the unconstitutional pension reform proposal.

I am a supporter of the collective bargaining process. I have real concerns that SB 1229 will have long-term implications on the ability of public employee unions to defend against future attacks on collective bargaining. This is especially telling as this change to the collective bargaining process was introduced during the current collective bargaining process.

I want negotiations to continue. I believe both parties when they say they want negotiations to continue. There should be no disruption in state provided services due to a strike or lockout. However, SB 1229 would not prevent a strike --- making a disruption to services provided to the citizens of Illinois by our state workers still possible.

Handing off negotiations to an arbitrator would shift responsibility of contract negotiations to unelected persons who are not accountable to the taxpayers of Illinois and may not have taxpayer interest at heart. SB 1229 would force an unelected panel of three to choose a winning side and a losing side. There is little realistic room for a common sense, middle-ground solution. Both sides should work to find common ground. The citizens of Illinois and state workers deserve a fair and responsible deal.



Unfortunately, the State of Illinois has a history of making promises and not keeping them. I have long said that one of our biggest problems is that there is no trust coming from Springfield.  This is not healthy and impacts our economy.  We saw this most recently at the end of Fiscal Year 2015 when the state ran out of money due to an unconstitutional budget that spent more than we had available in revenues and could not meet its financial obligations. This forced an emergency budget solution that could have been prevented. State workers deserve to know that when they make a deal with the State, the money will be there to pay them.  Approval of a contract that we knowingly do not have the money to uphold is not fair to my constituents and state workers across Illinois, as it would have detrimental effects like layoffs.  As I have stated, I do not want a work stoppage of any kind, nor do I want layoffs, but that is a stronger possibility without a fairly negotiated contract.

I want you to know that I read every letter, e-mail, social media post and spoke with countless constituents personally throughout this process.  Both sides say they do not want an impasse, lockout, or strike.  Both sides state that they want fair negotiations to continue.  One of the most consistent concerns I have heard from public employees has been that the Governor will force a strike by issuing a ‘last and best’ offer when the current Tolling Agreement expires on September 30th.  I personally took this concern to the Governor.  I worked very hard behind the scenes to get the attached letter of commitment from the Governor.  In this letter, you will read the commitment he made to continue to negotiate in good faith without presenting a ‘last and best’ offer as long as necessary, so long as good faith negotiations continue to be reciprocated, as they have been.  I am proud to have heard public employees on this issue and through my personal intervention I fought hard to secure this additional commitment from the Administration.  Your concerns and comments did not fall on deaf ears.  I listened and took them to heart.  I believe that with this important letter of commitment, there is a stronger likelihood of an agreement within the current collective bargaining framework.

I hope you can see I have put a lot of thought into my decision. I am not yet convinced that SB 1229 would truly prevent a strike. We all know any interruption to state services would further delay a fair deal for both taxpayers and state workers. I hope this explanation and information has been helpful to you in explaining why I did not support SB 1229.

As I have stated, I keep an open mind while not being beholden to special interests on either side of the debate. I carefully weigh all sides of an issue before arriving to my decision. Know that while we may not agree on every issue, you will always get open and honest dialogue with me.

As always, if I can be of any assistance with this or other state issues, please do not hesitate to contact me. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me on state issues.

Thank you again for reaching out to me about this issue. I look forward to hearing from you again. 

Mike Unes
State Representative, 91st District