Illinois has its first “right to work zone” after a vote by trustees in a Chicago suburb, but a legal challenge is almost a certainty.
The village board of Lincolnshire voted Monday in favor of an ordinance preventing local private sector employers from requiring workers join a union or pay dues through payroll deductions.
When the issue was being pushed earlier this year, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a formal opinion saying such action can only be taken at the state level, so it’s no surprise that Illinois AFL-CIO political director Bill Looby expects the ordinance to be challenged in court.
“I’m sure we’ll be involved,” Looby said. “We’re still evaluating that at this point. We’re just looking at all the options right now.”
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But Jacob Huebert, senior attorney for the Liberty Justice Center, part of the right-leaning Illinois Policy Institute, argues Illinois municipalities can enact so-called “right-to-work” ordinances.
“How the states do this is up to them, and in Illinois, our government has given local governments home rule powers where they can do basically anything that doesn’t violate constitutional rights and that state doesn’t prohibit,” Huebert said.
Lincolnshire doesn’t have much of a union presence, according to Looby, so the effects of the ordinance within the village will be minimal. He accuses the Illinois Policy Institute and the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner of exploiting political connections to get Lincolnshire village trustees to pass the measure.
“I do think there are close connections with the Mayor of Lincolnshire and Leslie Munger, who’s the Rauner-appointed comptroller, Looby said. “When you look at the Policy Institute that’s been pushing these anti-worker initiatives, I think they were looking for a willing participant.”
Huebert believes Lincolnshire took up the ordinance to attract businesses.
“Having a right-to-work ordinance should make businesses feel better about coming to Lincolnshire in particular in the future, because they know there won’t be that threat of unionization and the added cost and hassle that could entail,” Hubert said.
None of the five trustees who voted for the plan commented on the ordinance.