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Illinois AG Makes It Official: Gov. Rauner’s “Right-to-Work” and Prevailing Wage Zealotry is Illegal

Bruce Rauner yuck

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Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan has preemptively weighed in on anti-union legislation that is being promoted by Gov. Bruce Rauner which would allow local governments to create “Right-to-Work” zones and ban prevailing wage requirements. Her position? Both are unconstitutional

Democrats sounded the alarm on Rauner, who is eschewing bipartisan cooperation entirely.  Among those requesting Madigan’s official opinions was state Sen. Gary Forby, the chairman of the Senate’s labor committee.

“This guy, all he talks about is right-to-work states,” Forby told ABC.  “Well, now he can stop talking about right-to-work states and go back to trying to do a budget for the state of Illinois.”

In her opinion on the “Right-to-Work” issue, AG Madigan argues that the proposed “empowerment zones” plan violates federal labor law and could only be accomplished on a state level.  

In her second opinion, Madigan notes that the state supreme court has addressed the issue in the past and that even in home rule governments the prevailing wage must be obeyed on a state level.  

When Rauner attempted to stop the collection of automatic dues through executive order he simultaneously launched a lawsuit, asking that the dues be placed in escrow until legal proceedings were complete.  That plan hit a major stumbling block when AG Madigan deemed it illegal and comptroller Leslie Munger (a Rauner appointee) sided with Madigan’s office.   Showing his utter disdain of checks and balances, Rauner attempted to circumvent the process by directing the agencies themselves to stop collecting the fees.

Much of Illinois’ 2014 election was focused on getting the state into better fiscal shape.  The multimillionaire Rauner used his business background to sell himself as the man for that job.  Now months into his tenure, little has been accomplished other than union bashing.

Following Madigan’s opinions, Illinois AFL-CIO president Michael Carrigan told the Chicago Tribune:

“While Gov. Rauner continues his obsessive war on unions and the middle class, he just keeps running into huge road blocks — like the law.  I think the people of the state would actually appreciate the governor working on the pressing issues in front of us, instead of continually proposing illegal and politically motivated fixes to nonexistent problems.”

Both chambers of the legislature are controlled by Democrats and many Republicans in Illinois have aligned with labor in the past.  It appears Illinois voters have elected, literally, for gridlock.
Sen. Forby hopes the AG opinions can prevent that, however, and that the governor will move on.

“I guess that’s that.  The attorney general’s opinion makes it pretty clear this is a matter for state lawmakers, and the southern Illinois lawmakers I know — on both sides of the aisle — aren’t going to hurt working families.”


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