The Illinois State Museum was scheduled to close to the public after Wednesday, but staff whose layoffs have been postponed by a lawsuit are still expected to work.
The closure to the public is a prelude to closing the museum system entirely, a highly controversial move pursued by Gov. Bruce Rauner and strongly opposed by museum staff and unions.
The proposal to close the museum system was announced earlier this year, part of a package of contentious cuts Rauner is seeking to the state budget. Rauner, a Republican, vetoed several appropriations bills passed by the Illinois General Assembly, but despite a supposedly veto-proof Democratic majority in both chambers, the Illinois House has been unable to muster enough votes to override most of Rauner’s vetos. The House and Senate Democratic majorities refuse to pass several anti-union laws Rauner is pushing as part of the budget process, leaving the state with no budget. That has crippled social service providers and put the popular Illinois State Museum on the chopping block.
The Springfield staff of the Illinois State Museum, and its Research and Collection Center at 11th and Ash streets in Springfield, were due to be laid off on Sept. 30, but the union members of the staff received a stay of execution on Sept. 18. Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Council 31, said the union was notified by the Rauner administration that the layoffs would be delayed until litigation over state cuts is resolved. The lawsuit in question started as a motion to make the state issue employee paychecks, but it has since been amended to include layoffs and state employee health insurance claims, which the state stopped paying earlier this month.
“Good news! We’re not laying all of you off…yet. So even though we’re locking the doors, we expect you to be at work tomorrow. Oh, and thanks for being stewards of all our cultural and natural resources, I guess.”
For a country that supposedly loves history and embraces its heritage, we’ve got a funny way of showing it.