Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed into law a bill that bars local governments from establishing so-called right-to-work zones, another rebuke to his Republican predecessor, who blocked similar legislation as he battled with Democratic lawmakers over his pro-business, union-weakening agenda.
The new law, which was passed with strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate and takes effect immediately, “makes it abundantly clear that we have turned the page here in Illinois,” the Democratic governor said during a bill-signing event at the Capitol, where he was joined by legislators and labor leaders.
Former Gov. Bruce Rauner was a major proponent of laws prohibiting employers and labor organizations from signing contracts that require workers to join unions or pay dues. In 2017, Rauner vetoed a previous version of the bill banning local governments from creating such laws, and the House fell one vote short of overriding him. This time, the measure passed the House on a 101-8 vote and was approved unanimously in the Senate.
“From the start, right-to-work was an idea cooked up to lower wages, slash benefits and hurt our working families,” Pritzker said. “ ‘Right-to-work’ has always meant, ‘right to work for less money,’ and it’s wrong for Illinois.”
* Illinois News Network…
But Liberty Justice Center Senior Attorney Jeffrey Schwab, who represents Lincolnshire in a case they’ve requested the nation’s high court take up, says right to work doesn’t ban collective bargaining.
“It just makes unions have to get voluntary consent from employees, rather than forcing them to join and pay them,” Schwab said. “It’s disappointing that even though Illinois doesn’t want to pass a statewide right to work that it’s prohibiting its local units of government from doing so.”
Schwab has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Lincolnshire’s case on appeal. Pritzker said he doubts that will change anything now that local right to work is banned in Illinois.
“This bill actually just establishes what is the law today, so I believe that that would be moot essentially at the [U.S.] Supreme Court,” Pritzker said.
Schwab said they’re still waiting to see how the new law will impact the lawsuit.
* Capitol News Illinois…
Marc Dixon, a sociologist at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, said during an August 2018 interview that different arguments have been used over the years to campaign for the laws.
The first states to adopt them were primarily in the South, he said, where the laws were used to weaken labor unions, especially the Congress of International Organizations, or CIO, which were actively supporting civil rights legislation for African-Americans.
Later, in the 1950s, he said, they were supported by people who claimed certain labor unions embraced communist sympathies or had ties to organized crime.
More recently, supporters have argued for right-to-work laws on the basis of free speech. As more and more blue-collar workers aligned with the Republican Party, supporters have argued that workers should not be forced to join unions that, broadly speaking, tend to support Democrats.