Right-to-Work Show Down at the Illinois Capitol

October 25, 2017 - CLDC

Chicago Tribune 10/25/17

Democrats led by Speaker Michael Madigan on Wednesday could try to finish overriding Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill that would ban local governments from setting up right-to-work zones.

A vote on the measure would be the latest act in the fight between Rauner and organized labor, and Democrats will need some Republicans to buck the governor to succeed.

Rauner has long advocated for local communities to have the ability to enact right-to-work measures, which would prevent employers and unions from entering into agreements that require workers to either join a union or pay related fees. On Tuesday, the Senate voted 42-13 to override Rauner’s veto, which is two more votes than the bill received when it first passed in April. Seven Republican lawmakers voted for the override. The bill is expected to receive a vote in the House on Wednesday.

Republicans have been divided since July when GOP lawmakers bucked Rauner and sided with Madigan to a tax hike and budget. The dispute became bitter when Rauner signed legislation expanding taxpayer funding for abortions for state employees and low-income women. Democrats are hoping to take advantage of that split to pick up support for the veto override. The bill received 67 votes when it passed the House in July, including support from two Republicans. It takes 71 votes to override a veto in the House.

Democrats pushed the measure after the village of Lincolnshire established a right-to-work ordinance in 2015. The local law was later struck down by a federal district court, which ruled that only states have the power to enact such laws.

Rauner has said he hopes the case can reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrats are hoping to blunt that effort by passing a law saying only the legislature can create right-to-work laws.

The governor said in a statement that the Senate vote “could create a damaging loss for the economic competitiveness of Illinois.”

“This vote denies local communities — cities and counties — the ability to decide for themselves how they would like to structure their regulations to compete for jobs with other states like Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Texas,” Rauner said in a statement. (Monique Garcia)