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Fighting Illini: AG Madigan, Comptroller Munger Refuse to Implement IL Gov’s de Facto “Right-to-Work”

Madigan and Munger

Madigan and Munger

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In a legal and public relations win for workers, the Attorney General and Comptroller of Illinois announced they would not implement Gov. Bruce Rauner’s executive order which would have allowed those who are represented by unions at the bargaining table but are not members to stop paying ‘fair share fees’ used to offset the costs of bargaining on behalf of non-members.  The order seeks to create a de facto “Right-to-Work” law for state employees.  Representatives of labor unions say the move is unconstitutional.  

The office of the comptroller, run by Rauner appointee and fellow Republican Leslie Munger, announced over the weekend that it would fall in line with the decision of Attorney General Lisa Madigan.  “As the law stands now,” a spokeswoman for AG Madigan said, “‘fair share’ dues are constitutional.  The comptroller needs to follow the law.”

Munger’s office said they would.

A lawsuit filed by Rauner at the time of his EO seeks to have the fees found unconstitutional and placed in an escrow account until the legal process can be completed.  Following the weekend’s news that state offices would buck the rogue governor, Rauner spokesman Lance Trover doubled down on the doublespeak:

“Whether it’s the Comptroller or the individual departments that keep the ‘unfair share’ funds in reserve, the governor is making sure that he is able to carry out his obligation to protect the constitutional rights of the people of Illinois while recognizing that this important issue will ultimately be decided by the courts.”

Naturally, labor unions were glad to see some of the state leadership following the law. Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery was quick to speak up:

“As we said earlier this week, the Governor’s actions were a blatantly illegal abuse of his power, so we’re glad to see a bipartisan confirmation that the constitution still matters. A democracy does not allow one man to implement his ideological will as he chooses, and so Comptroller Munger and Attorney General Madigan rightfully put the law over politics. As he considers his upcoming budget plan, the Governor would be wise to do the same. Our state has serious financial challenges, and Governor Rauner’s out-of-touch, partisan attacks on middle class families and the unions who give them a collective voice isn’t the way to solve them. Let’s hope we can start working together in earnest next week.”

Democrats more broadly praised Munger for not giving in to partisan politics. Munger was named comptroller by Rauner after the passing of former comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who had been recently reelected.

In a statement, AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch praised the bipartisan effort to uphold the law:

“It is gratifying to know that two of our state’s constitutional officers are clearly committed to upholding the Constitution. That they include both a Democrat and a Republican shows that preserving the integrity of our democracy isn’t a partisan or political issue. No elected official has the right to place themselves above the law.

We have said that Gov. Rauner’s executive order was clearly illegal, and meant solely to strip workers of their ability to have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. State employees throughout Illinois will welcome Comptroller Munger and Attorney General Madigan’s determination that the order should not stand.

We renew our pledge to work constructively with anyone of good faith to move beyond the governor’s polarizing attacks and begin to address our state’s real challenges.”


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