‘Empowerment Zones Aren’t Pro-Business, They’re Anti-Union,’ Coli Says
Since proposing anti-labor initiatives and cuts to social services in his State of the State address, Gov. Bruce Rauner has toured Illinois to show his support for right-to-work.
In several speeches since February 25, the governor has called for the establishment of localized right-to-work legislation or “employee empowerment zones” to allow voters to decide what unions can negotiate in the workplace. In separate addresses in Pontiac and Mundelein on March 2, Gov. Rauner said, “I want local voters to control the nature of collective bargaining. I want [voters] to decide what the union can collectively bargain.”
“Bruce Rauner knows the Teamsters and other unions will stand up to him on any statewide right-to-work bill, so he’s unleashed a smokescreen to push for anti-union laws on a smaller scale,” said John T. Coli, President of Teamsters Joint Council 25. “His right-to-work proposals are not pro-business, they’re anti-union. These laws are designed to weaken unions. Without unions, Bruce Rauner can attract the kinds of corporations that want to pay workers less and deprive them of necessary rights and benefits at work.”
Together with the Illinois AFL-CIO, Teamsters Joint Council 25 and its affiliates are working to better inform union members and workers statewide of the harmful economic impacts of right-to-work laws.
Unions Sue Rauner Over Executive Order
The Illinois Teamsters also are involved in a lawsuit filed against Gov. Rauner on March 5 over an executive order he issued in February to block 40,000 state workers from paying fair share union dues. Twenty-seven Illinois unions joined forces in the suit to invalidate the order, which Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Comptroller Leslie Munger have already deemed illegal.
Fair share status applies to individuals employed in a union workplace who choose to opt out of the union. Fair share workers still benefit from the union’s collective bargaining and are therefore required to pay a reduced rate for their benefits. Fair share agreements are authorized under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and are included in state contracts with unions.
On February 13, the Attorney General’s office reached the same conclusion, stating, “Fair share dues are constitutional, and the comptroller needs to follow the law” in continuing to process the collection of fair share dues in opposition to Gov. Rauner’s executive order.
“Bruce Rauner is not above the law. He cannot disrupt collective bargaining agreements or unilaterally change labor law in Illinois in an effort to attract likeminded billionaire CEOs to this state,” Coli said. “Right-to-work laws and other anti-union measures like the fair share executive order are proven job killers. They weaken labor unions, erode wages and shift any economic gains made in Illinois away from hardworking men and women and into the hands of already profitable corporations. Right-to-work, however Bruce Rauner chooses to define it, is the last thing we need in Illinois.”
Teamsters Joint Council 25 is America’s premier labor union for Chicago, Illinois and northwest Indiana.