Facing threat of lawsuit, Elk Grove will rescind support for Rauner agenda

Labor union threatened lawsuit over village's resolution

  • Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson

 
 

Elk Grove Village's mayor and board of trustees will rescind their support for Gov. Bruce Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda" amid the threat of a lawsuit from a suburban-based labor union.

Neither village officials nor a representative of International Union of Operating Engineers 150 on Wednesday would discuss the basis for a potential lawsuit stemming from the board's April 2015 vote backing the Republican governor's plan.

Unions have criticized the plan as harmful to middle-class workers, while supporters argue the policies would alleviate statewide financial problems.

The village board unanimously approved a settlement Tuesday with Local 150. Under the deal, the village promises to formally rescind support of the Rauner agenda in a public vote by Jan. 31, 2017, and the union agreed to forgo any legal challenges.

Both sides said the settlement is unrelated to an investigation into whether the mayor and five board trustees qualify to collect pensions. After the village board passed the resolution backing the governor's agenda last year, Countryside-based Local 150 accused board members of working too few hours for membership in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund -- prompting an investigation by the pension fund's attorneys.

A spokeswoman for the pension system could not provide an update on the investigation Wednesday.

Mayor Craig Johnson declined to comment Wednesday on the threatened lawsuit. "Because of the potential litigation, we don't want to discuss it," Johnson said.

He said some people misinterpreted the village's intention in passing the resolution last year. "There were some people who took offense to it," Johnson said.

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Local 150 spokesman Ed Maher called the decision an appropriate action for the village.

"The village understands that we are strongly opposed to the 'Turnaround Agenda' resolution by actions we've taken in other municipalities," Maher said.

In February, the union sued Lincolnshire, alleging the village board violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act and the state Constitution when it passed a right-to-work ordinance. The two sides settled in November, but four unions are challenging the ordinance in federal court.

Although the resolution did not have binding effect on union workers in Elk Grove Village, the village board's position could hurt members, Maher said.

"At some point a resolution is just a resolution until it turns into something more," Maher said.

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