It’s not news that unions have long controlled the Illinois legislature, but the heavy-handedness in Springfield increasingly makes the Land of Lincoln look more like a thugocracy. Behold how Democrats are seeking to criminalize political opponents who support giving workers a choice not to join a union.
Over the July 4 weekend the Illinois legislature passed the Orwellian “Collective Bargaining Freedom Act,” banning right-to-work zones in the state and threatening local officials who enact them with a class-A misdemeanor and up to a year in jail. That’s the penalty for pimping or drunk driving.
Twenty-eight states have passed right-to-work laws that prohibit requiring workers to join a union. These states have grown faster and boast lower unemployment than those with coerced unionization. While the Illinois legislature is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the unions, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has promoted allowing municipalities to liberate workers within their borders. This may be the next best option to secession.
The Illinois village of Lincolnshire enacted a local right to work zone in 2015, which a federal court blocked. Last November the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a local right-to-work zone in Kentucky, though the case became moot after the state adopted right-to-work legislation in January.
Lincolnshire has appealed the district court ruling to the Seventh Circuit appeals court. Democrats hope to moot the case with legislation that makes the local law illegal. That would mean that another town in another state would have to establish a right-to-work zone for the issue to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Unions fear that the Supreme Court may decide soon in Janus v. Afscme that state laws and labor agreements requiring public workers to pay union agency fees violate the First Amendment. Such a ruling could erode their membership and revenues. Allowing local workers to opt out of unions would be a double punch.
Governor Rauner vetoed the legislation to make non-unionism a crime, but Democrats in the state Senate on Tuesday with the help of seven Republicans voted to override him.
The House may do the same as early as Wednesday. The good news is that Illinois workers can escape to freedom by crossing the border to any of five surrounding states. We hear FoxConn is looking to hire 13,000 workers in Wisconsin.