Springfield – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s attempt to kill the “fair share” fees that non-union state employees pay to unions that negotiate their salaries has run into a roadblock – a top state officer he appointed, Comptroller Leslie Munger.
Munger and her staff determined that Rauner’s order that the fees be blocked from going to the unions is illegal, so she will not comply with it without a court order. Her position was supported by an opinion from Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the state’s top legal authority.
“We agree with the comptroller,” Madigan said. “Fair share fees are constitutional under the current law, and she must follow the law.”
Fair share payments are only for contract representation and are not used for political purposes.
In response, Rauner’s office announced it would withhold the fees anyway – that state agencies under the governor’s control would withhold the fees from the unions and retain an amount equal to those fees until legal questions are resolved.
Roberta Lynch, executive director of AFSCME Council 31, said she was impressed by the stand taken by Munger and Madigan, even though Rauner is ignoring it.
“It is gratifying to know that two of our state’s constitutional officers are clearly committed to upholding the state constitution,” she said. “That they include both a Democrat and a Republican shows that preserving the integrity of democracy isn’t a partisan or political issue. No elected officials have the right to place themselves above the law.”
Meanwhile, AFSCME locals are reporting that more fair-share workers have been inquiring about becoming full members since Rauner’s order.
Rich Miller, of the closely watched CapitolFax blog, explains it this way:
“So instead of ordering the comptroller to violate state law and state contracts, the governor’s gonna do it himself.”