Rauner's veto of pro-union legislation survives override attempt

  • Tim O'Shea of Evergreen Park, center, and other labor union members fill the boardroom at Lincolnshire's village hall in December 2015 to hear a debate about right-to-work zones, which some criticize as anti-union.

      Tim O'Shea of Evergreen Park, center, and other labor union members fill the boardroom at Lincolnshire's village hall in December 2015 to hear a debate about right-to-work zones, which some criticize as anti-union. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer, December 2015

  • Gov. Bruce Rauner

    Gov. Bruce Rauner

 
 
Updated 10/25/2017 11:31 PM
This report has been updated to say that Jacob Huebert is the director of litigation for the Liberty Justice Center.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of legislation seeking to prohibit municipal right-to-work laws -- like the one enacted in Lincolnshire nearly two years ago -- narrowly withstood an override attempt in the state House on Wednesday.

Right-to-work ordinances allow employees to refuse union membership and still keep their jobs. Rauner, a Republican, has pushed for such proposals, which critics have derided as anti-union.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The measure Rauner vetoed not only would have made local right-to-work ordinances unlawful, but it could have resulted in jail time for trustees or council members voting for such a move.

Proponents of the ban, approved by the General Assembly this summer but vetoed by the governor last month, needed 71 House votes for an override. They got 70.

Forty-two lawmakers opposed the override. Republican Michael McAuliffe of Chicago voted present, an official record of the vote showed.

The state Senate voted 42-13 to override Tuesday, but the maneuver dies without the House's support.

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Shortly after the House failed to override his veto, Rauner issued a statement calling the vote a victory for people of Illinois.

"Local communities should be able to decide how best to compete for jobs and choose reforms that can make their economies stronger, help their businesses grow and give the freedom to individual workers to support a union at their own discretion," he said. "It will help Illinois be better positioned to be competitive nationally and globally and create opportunity for all the people of our state."

Lincolnshire is the only town in the Chicago area to establish itself as a right-to-work community. Lincolnshire trustees took that step in December 2015 despite overwhelming opposition from audience members at board meetings.

Four labor unions subsequently sued Lincolnshire, and in January a federal judge struck down the ordinance, ruling that the National Labor Relations Act gives only states the power to enact such laws.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan had said as much in an opinion issued shortly after Rauner took office.

Lincolnshire is appealing the judge's decision. A nonprofit law firm called the Liberty Justice Center is representing Lincolnshire pro bono.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"No one should be forced to pay money to a union in order to do their job," said Jacob Huebert, director of litigation for the Liberty Justice Center.

Lincolnshire Village Manager Brad Burke said the ordinance has not been enforced during the legal battle.

"And we haven't had any (employees) come forward and ask that it be enforced," Burke said.

Creating local right-to-work zones was a major tenet of Rauner's controversial Turnaround Agenda for Illinois.

But during the debate before Wednesday's vote, state Rep. Marty Moylan, the Des Plaines Democrat who was the bill's chief sponsor in the House, said a local approach would create a confusing "patchwork" of laws.

Moylan also defended the efforts of labor unions and criticized right-to-work proposals as "right to work for less" plans.

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