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Illinois needs to be a right-to-work state to compete for jobs

Madison County Record

Wednesday, August 2, 2017  |  Editorial  |  by The Madison County Record

Right to work
Illinois is surrounded by right-to-work states. Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin all have right-to-work laws protecting employees from forced unionism – as do the majority of U.S. States, 28 in all.

We, however, are not a right-to-work state. We're in the minority, condemned to suffer the same long-term economic consequences endured by all members of that minority, thanks to unfriendly business climates created and perpetuated by self-serving union leaders and legislators.

For instance, in the three years following its 2012 enactment of a right-to-work law, Indiana added nearly 40,000 manufacturing jobs, while Illinois lost more than 2,000 (and another 2,000-plus when U.S. Steel laid off workers in Granite City).

The right-to-work laws in other states have not gone unchallenged, but they have withstood the challenges.

Indiana's law, which prohibits contracts requiring employees to maintain union membership or pay union dues, was upheld by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014. The Seventh Circuit rejected the union’s argument that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) preempts the state law, concluding instead that it “permits state laws prohibiting agreements that require employees to pay representation fees.”

The judges also rejected the union's contention that the Indiana law violates their Fifth Amendment right not to have their private property (i.e., services) taken without just compensation, on the grounds that the federal law protecting their right to bargain exclusively with employers is just compensation for the NLRA-required representation of non-dues-paying workers.

Just last month, the Seventh Circuit upheld a Wisconsin right-to-work law modeled on the Indiana law that this same court had affirmed three years earlier.

The Seventh Circuit encompasses Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois, which means it will be the venue for appeal if a right-to-work law is ever passed in our state and, inevitably, challenged.

Getting such a law through our legislature may not be possible any time soon, but we should have one ready, modeled on Indiana's and Wisconsin's.