by David Patterson | February 06, 2015
Joining the ranks of right-wing governors taking aim at the rights of workers, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner attacked unions in his State of the State address Feb. 4, saying he wants to ban political contributions by public employee unions and allow anti-union “right-to-work” laws in local communities.
While seeking to shut out working people from the halls of power by limiting their ability to participate in the political process, Rauner would leave free access to the scores of corporations that have secured tax breaks costing Illinois taxpayers some $2 billion annually.
As for “right to work,” Rauner echoed the unsubstantiated and discredited claim that such laws improve competitiveness, saying that local communities “deserve this option so that they can compete with other states and other nations for new businesses and new investment.”
However, a new report issued by Moody’s Analytics concluded that Illinois’ business climate already “outshines regional rivals.” And the report further states that right-to-work proposals would “erode wages and lead to a more uneven distribution of the gains of economic growth.”
Illinois faces a huge budget deficit, the worst credit rating of any state, and the most underfunded pension system in the country – all while having the fewest state employees per capita of any state in the country. However, the new governor said little about how he would tackle those issues.
“Public servants will be disappointed to learn that the governor is pursuing an aggressive agenda to undermine their rights to a voice on the job and in the democratic process,” said Roberta Lynch, executive director of AFSCME Illinois Council 31.
“Right now, public service workers all across Illinois at every level of government are providing vital services in their communities on which citizens depend: helping veterans, caring for the aged and disabled, protecting at-risk children, safeguarding our air and water, responding to emergencies and natural disasters, maintaining roads and parks, keeping prisons and jails secure. It’s a list that could go on and on.”
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