House again fails to ban local Right to Work

Mailee Smith

Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith
November 7, 2017

House again fails to ban local Right to Work

The Illinois House’s failure to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto is a victory for local leaders trying to attract good jobs for their communities.

For the second time, the Illinois House of Representatives has failed to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1905, which prohibits local Right-to-Work ordinances.

The override failed by a single vote, in a final vote of 70-39 with one member voting present.

Specifically, SB 1905 would prohibit local governments from enacting their own Right-to-Work ordinances. In areas with a Right-to-Work law, workers cannot be required to pay money to a union in order to keep their jobs.

Local Right-to-Work laws can help attract businesses that might otherwise overlook the state because it has failed to enact pro-growth policies.

But SB 1905 ties the hands of local leaders and prevents economic ingenuity that would aid jobs growth. What’s more, it holds criminally liable any local leaders who attempt to enact an economic policy that is in full effect in 27 U.S. states – including every neighboring state except Missouri.

SB 1905 would crush job opportunities for Illinois  

SB 1905 takes specific aim at home rule communities such as the village of Lincolnshire. Following the state’s continued failure to enact reforms that would attract new economic opportunities, the Lincolnshire Village Board enacted a local Right-to-Work ordinance in 2015.

Right-to-Work zones would help attract businesses to areas that might otherwise get overlooked along with the rest of the state.

And businesses do, in fact, reject Illinois because it is not a Right-to-Work state. Illinoisans recently learned that the hard way – residents will miss out on 4,000 potential new jobs, as Toyota and Mazda have taken Illinois out of the running for a new $1.6 billion facility, opting instead, in all likelihood, to invest in a Right-to-Work state.

Illinois’ failure to follow the lead of its Right-to-Work neighbors was one of the factors in Toyota and Mazda’s decision to pass on Illinois, according to the CEO of Intersect Illinois as reported by Crain’s Chicago Business.

In 2015, Crain’s reported that the former director of Illinois’ Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said more than 1,100 companies have “blacklisted” Illinois because it does not have a Right-to-Work law. And two-thirds of global chief financial officers surveyed by CNBC in 2015 said a Right-to-Work law is either “important” or “very important” when deciding where to grow their businesses.

With the exception of Missouri, all of Illinois’ neighbors have fully enacted Right to Work. And unlike Illinois, those states are experiencing jobs growth, not jobs decline.

During the recession, Illinois lost more than 96,000 manufacturing jobs, and it has lost 1,740 more since 2010, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

But neighboring states with Right-to-Work laws have gained manufacturing jobs since 2010: 81,725 in Indiana, 11,246 in Iowa, 135,640 in Michigan and 29,540 in Wisconsin. Kentucky, which enacted Right to Work in 2017, also added jobs.

SB 1905 prohibits local governments from enacting their own local ordinances aimed at bringing businesses to their communities, effectively handing the competitive edge to communities in the nation’s 27 Right-to-Work states, including every neighboring state except Missouri.

At a time when Illinois is in desperate need of good jobs, policies such as the local Right-to-Work ban are sad reminders of warped priorities in the General Assembly.

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