The week ended with a thud for the Man Who Would Be King.

After weeks of traveling the state peddling snake oil “right to work zones” (aka “empowerment zones”) to communities with lagging economies, late Friday afternoon Governor Rauner found out from Attorney General Lisa Madigan that there won’t be any union-busting zones without a change in law.

Madigan issued a legal opinion Friday saying Rauner’s idea for “empowerment zones” — areas across the state where voters could decide if workers in their communities should be forced to join a union or pay associated dues —¬ would violate federal labor laws.

Madigan said the only way that idea could pass legal muster is if those rules, more commonly referred to as right to work, were adopted statewide.

Gov. Rauner has said repeatedly that he doesn’t want Illinois to become a “right to work” state, so, if he meant what he said, that would seem to end the discussion.

 “I guess that’s that,” said Sen. Gary Forby, a Democrat from Benton in far southern Illinois, who asked Madigan to examine the issues. “The attorney general’s opinion makes it pretty clear this is a matter for state lawmakers, and the southern Illinois lawmakers I know – on both sides of the aisle – aren’t going to hurt working families.”

The views of overreaching politicians sometimes “evolve,” so we’ll see if the governor is willing to give up one of his pet union-busting initiatives.

Don’t bet on it.

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During his campaign for governor, Bruce Rauner was the man with a plan to solve our state’s budget crisis. However, we’d have to take his word for that, as he wasn’t sharing details.

Two and a half months into his term, we still lack a plan, but we are getting the pain.

With school districts beginning to announce layoffs due to impending cash shortfalls, you would think fixing the state budget would be the new governor’s focus.

Nope.

That honor goes to eliminating “fair share,” the way in which which non-members who receive services from a union, such as contract bargaining and enforcement, contribute their fair share of the cost of providing those services.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, dogged in attempts to eliminate fees paid to unions by workers who choose not to join, has instructed state agencies to divert money from nonunion employee paychecks away from organized labor until a judge settles the matter.

Incredibly and, for Illinoisans, hilariously, to eliminate “fair share,” the governor is directing some department heads to keep two sets of books.

The memo recommends that each agency prepare a “payroll report using the normal figures,” copy and save it, and then create a second payroll “needed to reduce the gross pay” and enter a zero in a category reserved for fair share amounts.

Unfortunately, the people who would have been really good at that sort of thing no longer work for the state, though some of them make our license plates.

University of Illinois professor Robert Bruno, says Rauner is operating in “virgin territory,” perhaps with the idea that the continuing attacks will demoralize unions and their members.

As the newly-folksy governor might say, “It ain’t workin’.”

“In fact, a rather extraordinary form of unity and consensus has broken out,” Bruno said.

We support our friends at AFSCME whose members are being targeted by the governor’s attack.

Meanwhile, the state education budget, which already was underfunded, is on the verge of running out of money. Now!

TAKE ACTION

You can help make sure every state senator and representative knows how the 130,000 IEA members feel about proposals to further cut the state education budget.

It has been proposed that $150 million be chopped from K-12 public education during the current school year – the equivalent of losing three teachers in every school district for an entire school year.

It’s easy to email your legislator. Do it now!

Use your voice as a union member to advocate for students and schools. Urge your senator and representative to reject any additional education funding cuts in the current school year.

1 COMMENT

  1. Please find a way to make Illinois a productive state to live in – where the schools are strong, the teachers retirement system is upheld and our taxes go to essential services – without hurting schools & teachers and individual tax payers in general. Prefer to continue to live in the state where my family members live. The land that O'Hare airport stands on was my great grandfather's apple Orchard (until the government forced him to sell the land to them – eminent domain, that's why your luggage tags say ORD – it stands for orchard airport). Despite losing the land & having our church cemetery moved by the supreme court several years ago for expansion – our family has been here for a long time!! Let's look hard at the budget & be creative without hurting people & destroying unions.

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