In support of workers’ rights, Illinois kicks local ‘RTW’ to the curb

Illinois Correspondent

IN A RESOUNDING REBUKE to the anti-worker agenda of former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Collective Bargaining Freedom Act April 12 banning local “right-to-work” zones and prohibiting local governments from restricting collective bargaining. – photo by ABC

Springfield, IL – Legislation to prohibit local governments from restricting collective bargaining by creating local so-called “right-to-work” zones is now law in Illinois.

Senate Bill 1474, called the Collective Bargaining Freedom Act, was approved by the Senate on a 42-12 vote March 7, passed by the full House on April 3 on a 101-8 vote, and signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on Friday, April 12. It was one of the first of many Labor-backed bills moving toward adoption to be made law.

The bill is a thorough rejection of former Governor Bruce Rauner’s efforts to move “right-to-work” into the local arena because he could not get statewide approval passed. He called it the “Turnaround Agenda,” and it is now dead.

A similar bill passed the Legislature in 2017 but the House was unable to override Rauner’s veto of it. The bills were prompted by the Village of Lincolnshire, near Chicago, passing an ordinance to create a so-called “right to work” zone, at Rauner’s urging.

The bill states that only the General Assembly and the governor have the authority to regulate collective bargaining. Linconshire’s ordinance had already been struck down in federal court.

This time, the bill had considerable bi-partisan support. Co-sponsors included two southern Illinois Democrats, Rachelle Crowe, (D-Glen Carbon), and Christopher Belt, (D-Cahokia).

But they were joined as co-sponsors by two of the region’s Republicans – Dale Fowler of Harrisburg and Paul Schimpf of Murphysboro, showing that local right-to-work is unpopular even among the smaller cities and rural areas. Jason Plummer, (R-Edwardsville), remained opposed to it and voted no.

In the House, the entire southern Illinois Democratic contingent voted for it and was joined by two regional Republicans, Avery Bourne of Raymond in Montgomery County and Charles Meier of Washington County, both normally reliable votes against union causes.

Crowe has noted that the law will actually support economic development, protect government services and help build a highly trained workforce in the state.

“The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act solidifies the state’s commitment to provide protection for our middle-class workers,” Crowe said. “Workers have the right to negotiate livable wages and safe working conditions without worry.”

Pritzker made a ringing statement in support of workers’ rights at the bill signing.

“This legislation makes it abundantly clear that we are turning the page here in Illinois,” he said. “No longer will we be divided by false choices and misplaced blame. This is a time when we can and will take bipartisan action to lift up working families.

“The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act ensures that Illinois and all of its communities will never be a right-to-work state. From the start, right-to-work was an idea cooked up by radical forces to lower wages, slash benefits, and hurt our working families. Right-to-work has always meant right to work for less money, and there is just no place for that in Illinois,” the governor stressed.

Pritzker said the bipartisan support for the bill showed what Illinois is all about.

“This is a state where workers have the right to come together and negotiate a better deal. This is a state that listens when workers raise their voice for fair wages, good benefits and safe working conditions. This is a state where working families can thrive,” he said.

“We’re taking another step in that direction with this legislation – a law that not only is the right thing to do but that will also ensure the state of Illinois is following the National Labor Relations Act.”

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