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HomeIllinois NewsLincolnshire creates first "right to work" Illinois municipality

Lincolnshire creates first “right to work” Illinois municipality




By Nancy Mathieson - 

In Monday night’s 5 – 1 vote, north suburban Lincolnshire created Illinois’ first private sector “right to work” (RTW) municipality. Under this new ordinance, private sector unionized employees working in Lincolnshire will now have the choice of whether or not to pay union dues, and a union worker cannot be fired for not paying dues.

Earlier this year, Lincolnshire became one of a group of suburbs to formally endorse a plan, in line with Rauner’s "Turnaround Agenda," to make payment of private sector union dues voluntary (“empowerment zones”). According to the Illinois Policy Institute, under RTW laws, unions, workers and their employers can still collectively bargain over wages, hours, benefits and all other working conditions. RTW also does not affect the ability to organize.

In a packed meeting room filled with more non-residents than residents, attendees were given two minutes each to comment for or against the proposed ordinance. One attendee accused trustees of supporting RTW simply to “curry favor with the Governor,” while another union member stated he “already was free, never forced to join a union.” A Local 50 equipment operator praised union health benefits, stated “if I wasn’t in a union, I’d have to rely on Obamacare.”  

Union employees described how joining a union had improved their standard of living: Chicago’s Schwinn’s bicycle plant was lauded for improving the lives of union employees, while a supporter of the RTW ordinance pointed out the Schwinn factory was eventually shut down due to high costs, moved out of state and then overseas. Another union member stated “We didn’t pick this fight,” and predicted if Lincolnshire pursues RTW, its detractors would stop shopping in the town or dining in its restaurants.

Earlier this year, Illinois AG Lisa Madigan issued a legal opinion stating Rauner’s ideas for local RTW zones would violate federal labor laws, and that RTW laws could only be adopted statewide. However, Jacob Huebert, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, argued at the meeting that “nothing prevents local governments from passing this type of ordinance under the ‘home rule’ provision,” and local governments can “enact any law they see fit.”

Lawsuits against Lincolnshire’s RTW ordinance are expected by both supporters and non-supporters. At the close of the RTW vote, it was announced the Liberty Justice Center would be representing the Village of Lincolnshire in any future lawsuits on a pro bono basis.

Nancy Mathieson has a 30-year career in business, securities regulation and public policy. Nancy held positions at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), where she was a Director of Market Surveillance and managed a professional staff in the investigation of securities trading violations. She also served as Operations Director at Truth in Accounting, a Chicago think-tank whose mission is to promote transparency in government financial reporting. In this role, she directed Accounting teams in grant-funded research studies on the financial condition of state and local municipalities. Nancy received her B.S. in Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her M.B.A. from New York University.


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  1. “RTW zones would violate federal labor laws” Where in the U.S. Constitution does it grant the federal govt the authority to enact labor laws?
    Via the 10th amendment the states retained the authority to enact labor laws.