Rauner narrowly beats back union push to ban right-to-work zones


Governer of Illinois Bruce Rauner speaks to media after watching the total solar eclipse, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at SIU Arena in Carbondale. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday narrowly fended off a major loss for the second time in as many weeks when the Illinois House failed to override his veto of union-backed legislation to prevent local governments from establishing right-to-work zones.

The override attempt again fell short by just one vote, despite efforts by Democrats to try to take advantage of a split between Rauner and Republican lawmakers following months of infighting that’s led one conservative House member to pursue a primary challenge against the governor.

In a statement, Rauner called the outcome “a victory for the people” that “kept the door open to stronger job growth in Illinois.”


The right-to-work legislation was put forward by Democrats in response to an attempt by north suburban Lincolnshire to establish a right-to-work ordinance in 2015. A federal court struck down the village’s ordinance, ruling that only states have the power to enact such laws.

The idea that local communities should be able to choose whether to create their own right-to-work zones — jurisdictions where employers and unions are prohibited from entering into agreements that require workers to either join a union or pay related fees — is something Rauner has pushed. He’s now backing the village’s appeal of the federal court ruling, with the goal of reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democrats had hoped to block that push via the state legislation, which would have barred towns and villages from establishing right-to-work rules, specifying that only the General Assembly can do so. They argued that Rauner is attempting to weaken labor unions and in turn harm middle-class workers.

The measure failed 70-39 on Tuesday. An earlier try at an override failed 70-42. Supporters needed 71 votes to override Rauner. Democratic Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood, who is running for attorney general, voted for override last time but was absent Tuesday. Freshman Republican Rep. Dave Severin of Downstate Benton voted for the override last time and against it on Tuesday.

Sponsoring Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines, had hoped to gain support after passing companion legislation to remove criminal penalties for officials who pursue right to work ordinances, but it did not get enough Republicans to buck Rauner.

Earlier Tuesday, Republicans did join Democrats to override Rauner’s veto of legislation that would create a so-called student loan bill of rights, which would require loan service companies to better inform students of repayment options and loan forgiveness due to disabilities or other issues.



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