Fox Valley Labor News
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015
SPRINGFIELD — In what Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery called “a blatant abuse of power,” Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an Executive Order Feb. 9 blocking thousands of state employees from paying fair share fees. The Governor also announced he has filed suit in federal court to have fair share provisions declared unconstitutional.
Rauner said 6,500 state employees are paying so-called “fair share” dues, or an average of $577 a year per worker.
Montgomery vowed the IFT will “proudly stand and fight alongside others to oppose Rauner’s overreaching order.”
Fair share fees are payments required of individuals who receive the pay and other contractual benefits negotiated by the union but who choose not to join. The Governor’s order may impact a small number of IFT state employee members, but it does not impact teachers or other employees in K-12 school districts or higher education faculty.
Rauner’s announcement makes it clear once again: While the state is suffering from significant fiscal problems, the new Governor’s priority is to attack middle class families and the unions who represent them rather than find real solutions to our challenges
The IFT is just one of several union committed to joining the fight against Rauner. AFSCME, which represents thousands of state workers, strongly condemned the Governor’s attack. AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch. “Our union and all organized labor will stand together with those who believe in democracy to overturn Bruce Rauner’s illegal action and restore the integrity of the rule of law,” she explained.
Rauner can be overruled by the courts, or if lawmakers can gather enough votes to override his decision. Democrats hold supermajorities in the state Legislature.
Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said Rauner has been on a “blame crusade” that unfairly targets public employees.
“While he points to the salaries of those cooking the food in the cafeterias, guarding the prisoners and plowing the snow and ice from our roads as the culprits in our state financial woes, he is silent on the hundreds of tax breaks granted to large businesses and low corporate income tax in Illinois,” Carrigan said.
The executive order followed Rauner’s proposal last week, during his State of the State Address, for Illinois to adopt “right to work” zones around the state where communities are able to decide whether joining a union or paying union fees would be voluntary for local workers.