Union to sue over Chicago suburb's right-to-work ordinance
CHICAGO -- The AFL-CIO of Illinois will go to court over a Chicago suburb's new ordinance that would bar private employers from requiring workers to join unions or pay dues, setting up a challenge to a key aspect of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's business-friendly agenda
The Lincolnshire board approved the right-to-work measure Monday after listening to an hour of public comments. More than 100 people attended the meeting, including many wearing shirts or jackets with union logos, The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reported. Others listened from the hallway and a second room set up for the occasion.
With Democrats in control of the Legislature, Rauner has encouraged municipalities to pass local right-to-work ordinances as part of his "turnaround agenda," which includes efforts to curb the power of unions.
Rauner's office said several dozen local governments have approved resolutions supporting his overall agenda. But union officials say they believe Lincolnshire is the first to actually enact a right-to-work ordinance.
Labor leaders have warned that they would challenge any such measure. In March, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a ruling saying federal labor law allows only states and not local governments to enact such policies.
"The city of Lincolnshire was notified that the vote was illegal, they moved forward with adopting the ordinance anyway, so we'll move forward to take legal action," said Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan.
Rauner's spokesman, Lance Trover, declined to comment.
Supporters of right-to-work legislation argue that it would help promote job growth. Opponents say it would weaken unions and depress wages.
Roughly two dozen states have right-to-work laws, including Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, which all have Republican-led legislatures. Local governments in some unionized states such as Kentucky have tried that approach.
Trustee Mara Grujanac cast the lone dissenting vote at Monday's meeting, saying the policy didn't fit Lincolnshire.
Dan Servi, one of the five trustees who backed the ordinance, said he saw it as giving workers the right to choose.
"It was a tough vote for me. I think unions do a lot of good for a lot of people," he said. "But I've also had family members that weren't happy with their union and felt stuck."
The four other trustees who backed the ordinance didn't respond to Tuesday emails seeking comment.
"This is union busting," Chicago union organizer Ken Edwards said at the meeting, the Daily Herald reported. "You, the trustees are being used."
Resident Sandy Saltier accused the board of approving the plan to "curry favor with the governor."
But not all who attended spoke against the plan. Illinois Policy Institute Vice President Ted Dabrowski, whose group created a model ordinance for local governments, denied that the measure targeted unions.
"It's about individual freedoms. It's also about the right to not join a union," he said.
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Information from: WLS-TV.