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Legislative Updates

State battles: Illinois rejects ‘right to work’ proposal

The Illinois State House of Representatives voted unanimously to reject Gov. Bruce Rauner’s (R) proposal to create local (and so-called)  “right-to-work” zones in the state as a part of his so-called “Turnaround Agenda.”

“Right to work,” which has transformed into one of the governor’s marquee issues, is designed to prevent employees and employers from negotiating agreements that require all workers who receive the benefits of a collective-bargaining agreement to pay their share of the costs of representing them. 

If passed, these measures—which are being promoted in states nationwide—would allow workers to pay nothing and still get all the benefits of union membership.

Rauner, who had been adamant about taking up a “right-to-work” measure within the first 100 days of his administration, has traveled the state trying to gain support for the measure in his state. He was reportedly baited by Democrats into taking a vote on it in the House chamber, where House Speaker Mike Madigan (D) forced a vote on a measure put forward by Democrats to intentionally show the broad lack of support within Illinois for “right-to-work.”

The vote resulted in 72 “no” votes and zero “yes” votes. Thirty-seven of the State House delegation simply voted “present,” which is a refusal to take a side. Several Republicans left the chamber during the vote in an act of defiance to protest the process by which the legislation was introduced.

“So-called ‘right-to-work’ proposals are clear attacks on workers’ rights,” NALC President Fredri Rolando said. “It’s encouraging to see pro-union states such as Illinois reject these policies.”

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