Morrison: Right-to-work laws would make Illinois more economically competitive
One by one, Illinois’ neighbors are leaning in favor of right-to-work laws — but does such legislation have a chance in Illinois?
Kentucky recently joined the 27 other states in the nation with right-to-work laws when Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed the legislation, HB 1, into law in January.
The law makes it illegal for workers to be forced to join a labor union or pay dues to keep a job.
Michigan and Indiana already have right-to-work laws. Missouri, which has a GOP-controlled legislature, followed suit this year after electing a Republican governor. Wisconsin has a right-to-work law, as well, though it is being challenged in court.
With many neighboring states adopting right-to-work laws, many wonder if they will become law of the land in Illinois.
Rep. Thomas Morrison (R-Palatine) supports right-to-work legislation for Illinois and believes it would bring employers back to the state.
“I think that if we want to be competitive economically, we certainly have to look at it,” Morrison told North Cook News. “One of the reasons why so many states are pursuing this, even states like Michigan, which has been a very strong union state … is to make their state more competitive economically.”
Michigan became a right-to-work state in 2012, but the move was met with protests by union supporters. A poll by Public Policy Polling showed Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) approval rating sunk to 38 percent soon after he signed the legislation into law, the Huffington Post reposted.
Morrison said that, if Illinois wants to reduce its fiscal problems and high unemployment rate, every opportunity to do so must be explored, adding that union leadership may push back and have arguments and claim a race to the bottom, but national data show the opposite will occur.
“(For) many of the states that are right-to-work, union memberships actually increase, so all we want to do is give workers the freedom to choose,” he said.
According to the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private-sector payroll employment in right-to-work states increased by 9.7 percent between 2005 and 2015. The increase is “68 percent greater than the one achieved by forced-unionism states as a group.”
“If you’re looking at a manufacturing facility, for example, many employers won’t even consider states that are not right-to-work, so we’re losing our ability to attract employers,” Morrison said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has stated that right-to-work legislation would make businesses in Illinois more competitive and should be voted on in local communities instead of at the state level. But the movement has faced some resistance.
A federal court recently struck down a local right to work ordinance in Lincolnshire, Illinois, ruling that only the General Assembly had the authority to enact such laws.
“We want to make sure that Illinoisans who want to work have the ability to work, and that there’s an actual demand for their talent and skills,” Morrison said.
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