In private business, Bruce Rauner was used to having “yes men” (and women) do his bidding. So, it must have been a disappointment Thursday when there were no “YES” votes to be found when his “right to work” (RTW) proposal was put up for a vote by the Illinois House.
RTW is designed to weaken public employee unions, including those representing education employees who advocate for high quality teaching and learning conditions in our schools. It has been rejected in most cities and towns where local governments have voted on it. Legislators have been made aware that their constituents, including those who are union members, would consider a “yes” vote on “right to work” a BIG problem going forward.
To justify RTW and other anti-middle class schemes, Gov. Rauner insists unions have too much power and are part of a “corrupt bargain” that is hurting our state. So, it was (a little) surprising/ironic that the governor this week blatantly tried to purchase legislative support for his “Turnaround Agenda” (which includes RTW) by dropping $400,000 on legislators.
The donations to the Republican legislators, who are a minority to the overwhelming Democratic majority that controls the House and Senate, included $10,000 to Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont.
“We are encouraging the Republicans to stay strong together,” Rauner told reporters Thursday without mentioning his campaign donations to members of the Republican caucuses. “To have more influence in the process we need to stay unified, and that’s a message I’ve been saying that for the entire process and that’s important.”
Again, the governor claims Illinois needs “right to work” to clamp down on “special interests” who have too much influence. The disconnect was noted by Speaker Madigan’s spokesperson, Steve Brown.
“He is a special interest,” Brown said of the governor. “It confuses the average person who thinks he’s about changing the whole environment, when he’s engaged in the very same activity.”
That’s putting it mildly.
The governor has been peddling his “corrupt bargain of the unions” hooey for some time, but it’s as though he doesn’t see the contradiction. Let’s go through it one more time:
Unions backed the incumbent in the 2014 governor’s race, spending $30 million.
Gov. Rauner’s successful campaign spent $67 million. About half of that amount was contributed by two people: Rauner, and Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin. A few other mega-wealthy people contributed most of the rest.
So, which of these seems like a corrupt bargain?
Hundreds of thousands of hard-working Illinoisans participating in the political process through their unions?
Two uber-wealthy men who use their vast fortunes to politically overwhelm everyday people?
IEA members did a tremendous job encouraging lawmakers to reject RTW. Thousands of emails and phone calls delivered a strong message to members of the General Assembly.