The Illinois State House smacked down Governor Bruce Rauner’s dreams of a “right-to-work” law on Thursday; the proposed law gained zero “yes” votes and Democrats aimed the debate squarely Rauner himself.
The final tally was 0 “yes” votes, 72 “no” votes, and 37 “present” votes, which, as the “Chicago Sun Times” notes, was a “blistering rebuke” to Rauner’s notorious anti-union agenda. What Republicans were present “went for a walk” during the vote, so they didn’t have to fall on one side or the other.
“Right-to-Work” is Anti-Union, Anti-Labor, and Anti-Worker
As “Newsweek” notes, the so-called “right-to-work” laws “make it illegal for workers and employers to negotiate a contract that requires everyone who benefits from a union contract to pay their fair share of the costs of administering it.” This weakens the unions, and gives management — who already have an upper hand in these negotiations — gross leverage.
This spring, Wisconsin became the 25th state to go “right-to-work,” followed shortly afterwards by Missouri on Wednesday. And where the laws have failed, Republicans are tying a new strategy: making the laws local, with city and county governments enacting “right-to-work” ordinances, creating “right-to-work” zones in the process.
These laws and ordinances are incredibly harmful to employees, as well as being of dubious legality. A number of studies show that they don’t even stimulate job growth, which means only one thing: the laws exist specifically to break the back of the unions, and of labor, in the United States.
Shutting down Rauner in Illinois
Rauner has it out for the unions; he’s made it no secret. In February, he gave an executive order that eliminated “fair share” fees for the 6,500 state workers represented by a union but who haven’t joined; a judge dismantled the order earlier in April.
Thursday’s vote is just the latest in a long line of failures for the Rauner administration in their war against organized labor in Illinois.
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, went after the Democrats for what he said was a “sham bill” in the house. The bill voted on Thursday wasn’t one drafted by the governor’s office, despite cries from the House Speaker for the governor to give up language for a bill.
“What’s happening today, what happened last week really is a disservice to this body, to this chamber and to this building,” Durkin said. “I’m embarrassed to be part of this process today. I think this is a very dark moment in this body’s chamber.”
When asked about the vote, Rauner called it “political theater” and that “there’s a lot of pressure from special interest groups who don’t want change.”
On the house floor, Representative Lou Lang, D-Skokie, slammed the Republicans for “selling out,” and accused Rauner of moving money into the funds of various state lawmakers ahead of the vote: “$400,000 this week. What were those checks for?”
Lang also went after the Republicans expected to vote “present” as well, shouting: “You have a responsibility to tell the people of Illinois . . . what do you stand for? We stand for them! We stand for organized labor.”
Featured image via Steven Vance on Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution License