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Rauner Has A Week If He Hopes To End Forced Unionization

Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan gave Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday just a week to submit a bill if he wants a vote on whether to end mandatory union dues.

Since taking office in January, Rauner has made labor and economic reforms a central focus of his agenda. He has argued laws all too often benefit special interest, like labor unions, at the expense of the local economy.

Right-to-work, a policy which outlaws mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment, has been at the forefront of the reforms. Though Democrats tend not to agree with the policy, Madigan does not have an official position, but wants the governor to submit a proposal by May 14 so state lawmakers can have time to review it before the legislative session is over.

“We have not taken a position,” Steve Brown, the speaker’s spokesman, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We’ll have to see what the actual proposal is.”

Brown argues the week deadline is not short notice because the issue of right-to-work has been discussed numerous times by the governor way before the proposed deadline. Now, Brown notes, it’s time to act before the legislative session is over. He added, “If anything, we’ve waited too long.”

According to the state Constitution, any bill passed after May 31 shall not become effective prior to June 1 of the next calendar year unless the General Assembly by the vote of three-fifths of the members allows it.

Indeed, Rauner has talked in detail about the policy and even advocated for local alternatives to it. Though it is normally seen as a states’ rights issue, the idea of cities or counties deciding whether to implement it on their own has grown popular recently with Warren County in Kentucky leading the way back in December. On Wednesday, Rauner even pitched the idea to the city council in Chicago, which is made up primarily of Democrats.

Nevertheless, Rauner and his team were not at all happy about the announcement and imposed deadline.

“The administration continues to negotiate in good faith over the governor’s turnaround agenda and will remain at the table as long as it takes,” Lance Trover, a spokesman for the governor, told the Quad-City Times.

“If House Democrats want to walk away from the negotiating table and vote on a proposal before there is bipartisan agreement that the material is ready to be introduced in committee,” he continued. “Then they should start with a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on legislators.”

Labor unions, which usually oppose right-to-work policies, were quick to applaud the speaker for setting a deadline.

“Right-to-work undercuts wages and benefits for all workers,” Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said, according to the Quad-City Times. “If Gov. Rauner truly believes economic development is achieved by pushing even more people out of the middle class, then it’s time to have a vote on it,”

“The governor’s road show has been an irresponsible distraction from our state’s real challenges,” Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery added. “We hope putting this up for a vote will demonstrate, once and for all, that the overwhelming majority of Illinoisans want Governor Rauner to stop campaigning and start governing.”

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