Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner declared war on the workers of Illinois earlier this month. And it’s not going to be forgotten by the Teamsters or others who support the middle class in the Land of Lincoln.
The new state chief executive unilaterally decided to strip unions of their ability to collect dues from state workers who benefit from collective bargaining. The outspoken advocate of so-called “right to work” (RTW) circumvented the law because he knew he couldn’t get the measure through the Statehouse on its own merits.
Gov. Rauner’s executive order removes fair share union status. He also filed suit against all public employee unions that have fair share provisions in their contract. It’s an absolute outrage that the Teamsters won’t be taking lying down.
“This is a blatant attack on unions, and furthermore an assault on working families in Illinois,” said Becky Strzechowski, an International Vice President at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and President of Local 700 in Park Ridge, Ill. “This billionaire businessman-turned-governor fails to acknowledge that the facts are against him. Unions raise the standard for everyone. Our members need to know that this union will not stand by and watch Illinois return to right to work.”
But Gov. Rauner is not quitting there. Instead he is also asking state and local elected officials to create union-free business zones that would further erode good-paying jobs in Illinois. It would be the first step in attempting to dismantle private sector union jobs and hammer all workers by creating a downwards slope on salaries statewide.
Of course, Illinois is not alone in its push to drive the working class’ quality-of-life into the toilet. Legislatures in Missouri, New Mexico, West Virginia and Wisconsin are among those considering so-called RTW measures this year, and they must be stopped as well.
Here’s the dirty little secret about anti-worker legislation like this – it doesn’t work. Look at the 24 states that have curbed union activity in this country and you will find their economic performance is unremarkable at best. In fact, a quality of life report released by Politico last year found the bottom five states -- Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama -- are right-to-work states. Meanwhile, four out of five with the highest quality of living -- New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts -- are free bargaining states.
Right-to-work is a ruse. These laws depress wages, resulting in workers making about $1,500 less than those living in non-RTW states. They are also more likely not to receive health insurance and more likely to work in a dangerous workplace. And contrary to what its supporters’ state, it is proven not to be a deciding factor in where businesses locate.
The Teamsters will stand up to billionaire-turned-Gov. Rauner and other wealthy politicians who try to tell hardworking Americans they are better off without unions. It’s a lie, one that workers can’t afford to believe.