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Mar
2015
10

IL Gov’s Absurd Ignorance of Labor Law to Be Tested Ahead of Summer Contract Talks

Rauner right to work illinois

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Following his failed executive order that would have halted the fair-share fees collected by Illinois’ public sector unions, Governor Bruce Rauner has pressed ahead by directing state agencies to withhold the fees from the comptroller’ office.  In response, the AFL-CIO and 26 unions that represent Illinois’ 40,000 state employees have filed a lawsuit asking the court to invalidate Rauner’s executive action.

Fair-share fees are paid by state employees who choose not to be union members but are nonetheless protected through union collective bargaining.  Rauner argues that fair-share fees are unconstitutional because they violate the first amendment, but his EO was understood as a de facto “Right-to-Work” bill. He is seeking to move the case to federal court in hopes of Supreme Court sympathy.  Unions are trying to keep the issue in-state, noting that fair share fees cannot be used for political reasons.

When Rauner issued his EO he simultaneously ordered Comptroller Leslie Munger to place the fees in an escrow account until the legal process played out.  Attorney general Lisa Madigan declared the executive order unconstitutional and Munger, a Rauner appointee, decided to fall in line with the Madigan declaration.  Rauner then attempted to circumvent the need for an escrow account by directing agencies to withhold the fees, thus creating a de-facto “Right-to-Work” state.

In a statement, Michael T. Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO, questioned Rauner’s totalitarian approach: “We’re asking the court to restore the integrity of our democratic process and make clear that no one, not Gov. Rauner or anyone else, can place themselves above the law.”

Carrigan further argued that Gov. Rauner’s attempts to bust unions in the state of Illinois hurts middle class workers:

“Governor Rauner’s political obsession with stripping their rights and driving down their wages demeans their service, hurts the middle class and is blatantly illegal. We’re asking the court to restore the integrity of our democratic process and make clear that no one, not Governor Rauner or anyone else, can place themselves above the law.”

The drama precedes public sector contract negotiations that are set to begin July 1st.  Some unions believe that Rauner is attempting to clamp down on unions in order to force concessions.  Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, says Rauner’s anti-union agenda, combined with his proposed cuts to social services, guarantee an increase in income inequality:

“Let’s go after working people and take away their rights, why? He apparently wants to increase the gap between the rich and the poor.”

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