• Editorial
  • A wrongheaded idea about right-to-work in Illinois

    For a state in desperate need of good-paying jobs as it tries to keep current workers from fleeing, a right-to-work ban would be devastating.

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    The last thing the state of Illinois needs is another way to turn off companies looking to bring good jobs here.

    But that’s exactly what would happen if a powerful state labor union gets its way in its push for a permanent ban on so-called right-to-work shops in Illinois.

    As reported first by Crain’s political columnist Greg Hinz, the International Union of Operating Engineers, which has many friends on both sides of the political aisle in Illinois, is pushing to have the General Assembly approve a proposed constitutional amendment effectively banning right-to-work laws—which guarantee that no employee can be compelled to join or pay dues to a union—anywhere in the state. And while the details of what exactly the Operating Engineers want are still sketchy, the reason for concern now is that the union has already begun discussions about it with legislative leaders and Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Legislation could come at any moment, and there appears to be plenty of momentum in Springfield to make sure it’s heard.

    For a state in desperate need for good-paying jobs as it tries to keep current workers from fleeing, such a move sends exactly the wrong message.

    This excessive overreach by a union with so many allies in Springfield should trouble voters. Furthermore, it’s not necessary. There are already strong laws on the books protecting unionization in Illinois. The proposal could also have the unintended effect of distracting from other Pritzker initiatives, notably the “fair tax” amendment, his administration’s highest priority at the moment.

    It wasn’t too long ago that this very issue was the focal point of a bitter dispute between former Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats. A casualty of that battle: A major automobile manufacturer decided it wanted none of it and took plans for a new plant—and thousands of potential good-paying jobs—elsewhere.

    Back in 2017, at the height of Rauner’s battles with Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan, a Democratic-sponsored bill that would have prohibited local governments from banning union-shop contracts within their borders came thisclose to passing after a Rauner veto. At the time, Crain’s used this platform79彩票注册网址 to push hard against such job-killing proposals. We stay firm in our stance against it for the very reason that the competitive landscape has changed dramatically.

    Though still a strong union state, Illinois is an island surrounded by right-to-work states that have eaten our lunch when it comes to bidding for and winning new business. We wondered in these pages at the time whether, had there been even a little reform in some of the old-school labor laws, that maybe—just maybe—Illinois wouldn’t have lost out on that joint Mazda and Toyota plant that was expected to bring in roughly 4,000 jobs, not to mention thousands of other potential jobs to service that plant. Had, for instance, individual cities been able to set their own labor rules, Rochelle may have stayed in the running for that opportunity.

    79彩票注册网址The loss still stings.

    The engineers union is now raising alarms again.

    So we ask: With a pro-union governor installed and a union-friendly Legislature entrenched, why the need for such job-choking legislation? After years of “playing defense,’’ labor “needs to go on the offense,’’ Local 150 communications director Ed Maher told Hinz. Unfortunately, that sounds like nothing more than score-settling.

    79彩票注册网址Here’s hoping state lawmakers also see this for what it really is: retribution. Dancing on graves is dangerous in politics, especially when the stakes are as high as they are in this state at this moment.

    79彩票注册网址We get it. The Dems are still out to punish Rauner and his allies for the staunch anti-union position during his disastrous tenure as CEO of the state. Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, who is expected to co-file the bill, stopped just short of saying so to Hinz. “The people have spoken,’’ he said of Rauner’s defeat. “They clearly don’t want Illinois to be a right-to-work state.’’

    Someone should remind Villivalam and other supporters of this bill that Rauner’s been gone for more than a year.
    We also remind Villivalam of this: Workers need a state to work for them to attract more jobs, not shoo them away, as any potential legislation like this would most certainly do.

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