Springfield, IL – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s right-to-work initiative in went down in flames in the Illinois House, gaining zero "yes" votes in a fiery debate Democrats aimed squarely at the governor.
The vote tally was 0 “Yes” to 72 “No,” with 37 voting “Present”, in a blistering rebuke to Rauner’s anti-worker agenda. A handful of Republicans went for a walk during the vote, casting no vote at all.
WITH A MESSAGE
Republicans dismissed the vote as political theater, which it was to some extent. Though, like most great dramas, it was designed to deliver a message.
Governor Bruce Rauner, who has been pushing right-to-work as part of his “pro-business” plan, but never filed a bill with the legislature.
Instead, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan together a bill using the Governor’s talking points.
“If the governor is serious about the changes he is proposing, the right thing to do now is for us to bring these issues into the open and have a constructive and open discussion, vote and see what steps need to be taken from there,” Madigan said in a statement.
‘DON’T BE AFRAID’
Democrats used the right-to-work bill to pit workers’ rights against corporate greed, and called Rauner “divisive” for touring the state and essentially asking local towns to kick unions out.
“Don’t be afraid, stay with us, vote no!” worker-friendly state Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville) said.
Rauner’s office said Madigan and Democrats were walking away from the negotiating table by plucking out controversial issues from his agenda and voting them down.
STANDING WITH WORKERS
On the House floor, state Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) accused Republicans of selling out, saying that Rauner moved money into state lawmakers’ funds – a total of $400,000 last week – in advance of Thursday’s vote.
“What were those checks for?” Lang asked.
Lang also needled Republicans who voted present.
“You have a responsibility to tell the people of Illinois . . . what do you stand for?” Lang shouted. “We stand for them! We stand for organized labor.”
(Information for this story from the Chicago Sun Times and WGN-TV)