Rauner agenda dealt more criticism, this time in Wauconda

Labor union members and their supporters filled the Wauconda High School cafeteria Tuesday night to oppose a controversial proposal by Gov. Bruce Rauner that would weaken labor unions in the state.

And when they were done, the village board members criticized the new governor's plan, too, saying the issue needs to be resolved in the state Capitol, not village boardrooms.

The discussion was prompted by a resolution on the board's agenda, a document that - if approved - would have supported Rauner's plan.

The trustees' opposition was unanimous, though, so no one even brought the resolution up for a formal vote.

Wauconda is the latest community to debate the issue at the board level. Mundelein and Libertyville have done so in recent weeks, too.

And as was the case in Wauconda, neither of those towns' boards supported Rauner's plan.

Rauner has suggested improving the state's finances by creating local union-free zones, reducing pay for municipal construction work, letting voters have more control over items to be covered by union contracts and other employment-related maneuvers.

Such steps were an important part of Rauner's campaign platform, although the details weren't made public until recently.

And the public reaction has been strong.

Tuesday's Wauconda village board meeting was moved to the high school because the crowd that showed up at village hall for the meeting was too large to fit in the boardroom.

Of the 100 or so people in the audience at the school cafeteria, about a dozen spoke about Rauner's plan and the board's proposed supportive resolution.

All of them criticized the plan, saying it would lower wages and hurt middle-class families.

"Local empowerment zones are just a way of stripping away collective bargaining rights," said John Spratt, representing the Wauconda Fire Protecting District's union members.

Trustee-elect Tim Howe blasted the plan, too, saying Rauner's plan would hurt the union workers employed by the village.

"This sticks a thumb in their eye," Howe said.

When it came time for the trustees to speak, they were similarly critical of the resolution.

"I really feel the village of Wauconda has no place weighing in on this political issue," Trustee Linda Starkey said.

Trustee John Barbini said the resolution puts the village "in an absolutely no-win situation."

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