Throughout his campaign and early tenure in office, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has promised to allow counties and municipalities the option to be “right to work” zones. That plan, however, is illegal, according to an opinion released Friday by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
In a 15-page document, Attorney General Madigan stated that, “it is my opinion that the National Labor Relations Act preempts counties and municipalities…from adopting local ordinances that regulate the use of union security agreements.”
In other words, federal law allows states and territories to pass “right to work” laws, but other government bodies are not authorized to regulate union membership. State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) said the decision signals that “union busting laws are an issue for the General Assembly, not local governments.”
Governor Rauner has repeatedly stated that he does not wish to make Illinois a “right to work” state.
Additionally, Attorney General Madigan stated that counties and municipalities can not exempt themselves from Illinois’ Prevailing Wage Law. Opting out of paying prevailing wages to construction workers is another part of Governor Rauner’s proposed “employee empowerment zones,” though how employees would be empowered by having their wages cut is anybody’s guess.