* From a press release…
Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12) and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced a two-pronged effort in opposition to Governor Bruce Rauner’s attempt to weaken organized labor, saying that the Governor’s right to work proposal would harm working families by causing lower wages and fewer opportunities. Fritchey has introduced a county resolution in opposition to the Governor’s request that local municipalities take action to support the local right to work zone. Mayor Emanuel intends to introduce a measure indicating Chicago’s opposition to the Governor’s efforts at the next City Council meeting.
“This country has seen the shrinking of the middle class as good, secure jobs and worker protections continue to disappear while more and more families find themselves struggling to make ends meet,” Commissioner Fritchey said. “The Governor’s right to work proposal is a thinly-veiled attempt to dismantle unionized labor organizations which have historically protected the rights and safety of the working and middle class. Prosperity in the middle class is what will make this state and our county fully recover from the our past economic difficulties, not laws making it easier for businesses to underpay and undervalue their employees.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been a vocal opponent of the Governor’s proposed right to work zones. “I commend Commissioner Fritchey for his efforts at the county level and I intend to work with the City Council to urge them to send a clear message against any efforts that would harm the working men and women of our city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Under my tenure as Mayor, Chicago will never be a right to work zone because that’s a race to the bottom, and it would be a devastating hit to Chicago’s middle class.”
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan released an opinion last week declaring that the concept of local right to work zones presented by Governor Rauner would violate federal labor law, stating in part that “current law does not authorize the creation, through the passage of a referendum, of “right to work” zones or local areas wherein union security agreements will not be recognized.”
“Local right to work zones are illegal and the Illinois Attorney General has confirmed that. We appreciate Commissioner John Fritchey and Mayor Rahm Emanuel reinforcing that with these resolutions and are hopeful that their colleagues support their efforts,” said Michael T. Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “While Governor Rauner continues his obsessive quest to destroy collective bargaining, it is important that our elected officials stand up in opposition. Maybe then, Rauner will concentrate on the real pressing issues of our state, not the ideological agenda of his corporate friends.”
Commissioner Fritchey intends to call his resolution for a vote at this Wednesday’s County Board meeting. The next City Council meeting is April 15, 2015.
* From Fritchey’s resolution…
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Cook County Board of Commissioners hereby opposes the proposal to create local right to work zones in Illinois as such action would violate current federal and state laws and would negatively impact collective bargaining and hurt hard-working middle- class employees and their families in Illinois; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in light of the current federal and Illinois laws, the Cook County Board of Commissioners urges local government subdivisions within Cook County to refrain from considering and adopting resolutions asking the Illinois Legislature to allow local right to work zones.
* By the way, the News-Gazette has been asking Champaign mayoral candidates about the governor’s proposed local right to work resolutions. But other media outlets around the state have pretty much ignored the whole topic. With elections coming up, you’d think that would be news-worthy.
There has been a bit of a debate surrounding the topic in the Springfield mayoral race, but it hasn’t been much of media priority.
*** UPDATE *** Rauner response…
A Rauner spokeswoman says some parts of Chicago and Cook County have “outrageously high unemployment” and establishing the zones would make them more attractive to job creators.