Another negative week for Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda,” with just one local government approving a modified version of his anti-middle class resolution that seeks local endorsement of so-called “right to work” zones.
The Elk Grove Village Board approved a rewritten version of the resolution, despite a strong turnout of union members and supporters who urged rejection.
The Mahomet council tabled the governor’s resolution Tuesday night while, in Lexington, union supporters packed a room and made their feelings known to the city council.
Cutting prevailing wages is a hot topic among union members.
These wages are hourly — usually including benefits and overtime — paid to workers, laborers, and mechanics within a certain area.
Tony Penn of Laborers Local 362 said doing away with these wages takes money from the pockets of workers.
“It’s going to be a hardship on working families,” said Penn. “It means less money they could bring home to their family to buy cars, to buy houses, and groceries in these communities.”
The Lexington council postponed for eight months consideration of the Rauner resolution.
Hundreds turned out for this week’s meeting of the Jefferson County Board.
Several audience members spoke out against Rauner’s agenda, claiming it seeks to break unions, eliminate the prevailing wage, and institute other harmful measures.
“Gov. Rauner’s agenda has nothing to do, I believe, with bringing in new business to Illinois and everything to do with union busting,” said audience member Adam Deadmond of Mt. Vernon.
When it was time for someone to put the resolution on the floor…this.
For the present time, that resolution is dead in Jefferson County.
In Kane County though, the Rauner resolution, or something very much like it, remains alive. Board Chair Chris Lauzen smugly led the board through a series of questions designed to elicit responses supportive of the “Turnaround Agenda,” claiming all the while that Rauner’s resolution wasn’t the subject of discussion.
Instead, he said, he wants the board to craft its own resolution that is positive in tone, calling for changes in how the state addresses its financial problems. He said it should be built by consensus and not be divisive.
“I don’t think that it is any secret that what Gov. Rauner has proposed is controversial, but what we are doing today is very different than that,” Lauzen said.
But many of the people in the audience, which spilled out of the room and its lobby, then down the stairs, still protested. Some said parts of the proposal were code for what Rauner has proposed, such as allowing counties and towns to establish empowerment zones with right-to-work regulations and to opt out of having to pay prevailing wage rates for public projects.
Lauzen said he’d use input from the meeting to draft a resolution for the board’s executive committee. Stay tuned.
Late Wednesday afternoon came news that Westville’s village council, which two weeks ago had expressed support for the Rauner resolution, had reconsidered.
Mayor Mike Weese said after doing more research on the governor’s proposal and after taking several calls from residents, he just felt that there were parts of the Turnaround Agenda that he could not support.
In Chicago, a city council committee discussed and the full council is expected to vote soon on a resolution sponsored by Mayor Emanuel that makes clear the city rejects the Rauner ideas.
The idea of putting an alternate, pro-middle-class, resolution in front of local governments is gaining support in places like Dixon where a fiery counter-resolution passed last week.
The fight continues.