The latest attack on unions comes from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, who is pushing a bill that would make it harder for public-sector unions to represent their members, as well as potentially strip the pensions of current union workers. In response, labor advocates are rallying for the passage of the so-called “Big Labor Bill of Rights” to protect the rights of union members and prevent Rauner from destroying the unions.
Democrats in the State of Illinois have voted to make union membership mandatory in the state. It’s important to note that this bill of rights is not a law, but instead a resolution that will be considered for a vote next year. This will be a controversial issue, and remember, this is not law. The resolution was passed by a bipartisan vote of 38 to 12 in the State Senate, and by a bipartisan vote of 49 to 1 in the State Assembly.
Many believe that the Illinois Legislature’s passage of a bill of rights for working families this spring will help resolve a long-standing labor dispute between unions and local governments. However, the bill’s passage is merely the latest chapter in a long history of labor unrest in the state. Here is a brief history of labor problems in Illinois:. Read more about right to work states 2020 and let us know what you think.
Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.
Justin L. Fowler/Associated Press
The Supreme Court’s famous quip is that the United States Constitution is not a suicide pact, but what about the Illinois Constitution? After years of fiscal recklessness, the state’s credit rating is one step above undesirable. Despite this, Springfield politicians now want to include collective bargaining in the Illinois Constitution, putting union power on par with the rule of law and religious freedom.
The House of Representatives approved the idea Wednesday, after the Senate approved it last week. The proposed constitutional amendment guarantees the fundamental right to organise and bargain collectively, including for higher wages, working hours, working conditions and the vague concept of economic welfare. The amendment states that no law can block employment contracts that make membership a condition of employment.
This is to counter the successful right-to-work movement in neighboring Illinois. Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky have all banned mandatory unionization in the past decade. It is a bad idea to lock Illinois into a non-competitive policy for private employees. Worse, the amendment could prevent the state from changing the public works rules that caused its precarious financial situation.
Illinois law is very favorable to government unions. Teachers can strike, unlike many other states. The legislature is also considering a bill that would allow school principals in Chicago to form a union and strike. Collective bargaining in Illinois is not very limited. In Wisconsin, the neighboring state, Act 10, passed by former Governor Scott Walker in 2011, generally provides that state employees can only negotiate their pay.
Illinois desperately needs such structural reform, but it could soon become unconstitutional if the amendment’s proponents have their way. In that case, the government’s long-term financial problems could become almost insoluble. Public sector unions, as always, will push for higher costs without any legal constraints. The constitutional amendment Illinois really needs would allow the state to change the pensions of public officials who bankrupt the state.
The good news is that the change to collective bargaining agreements must be approved by voters on the 2022 ballot and the public will have a chance to voice its opinion. Last year, Democrats approved an amendment to eliminate the flat income tax, but it failed by a 6.5 percentage point margin. Next year, Illinois residents should feel the same way about adding work to their Bill of Rights.
Wonderland: According to the left, negotiations with the opposition only hinder the achievement of its political objectives. Images : AP/Bloomberg News/Getty Images Compiled: Mark Kelly
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