Trump administration sides with Rauner in Supreme Court case over union fees


President Donald Trump’s administration has endorsed Gov. Bruce Rauner’s side of a legal case challenging fees public employee unions collect from nonmembers, saying in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that the system is unconstitutional.

Rauner brought the case shortly after he was sworn into office in 2015, saying he wanted to see the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. He was later removed from the case but has continued to tout it.

Illinois is one of about two dozen states that require many workers to pay what’s known as “fair share” fees to public employee unions even if they are not union members. The thinking is that workers who are not part of a union still benefit from its services, even if they don’t support its political agenda.

Unions negotiate new contracts and handle grievances on behalf of all workers within a bargaining unit, not just those who are members. The fair share fees help pay for those efforts.

Rauner contends that the fee arrangement violates free speech and that workers should not have to support unions they don’t want to belong to. Unions are not allowed to spend fair share fees on political activities such as campaign contributions, but the governor says it’s impossible to separate political activities because public-sector unions negotiate directly with the government.

The Trump administration agrees with Rauner, according to a brief it filed with the courton Wednesday.

“In the public sector, speech in collective bargaining is necessarily speech about public issues,” the administration’s brief said. “Virtually every matter at stake in a public-sector labor agreement affects the public fisc, and therefore is a matter of public policy concerning all citizens. Moreover, issues like tenure for state employees, merit pay, and the size of the state workforce are about more than money: they concern no less than the proper structure and operation of government. To compel a public employee to subsidize his union’s bargaining position on these questions is to force him to support private political and ideological viewpoints with which he may strongly disagree.”

The Trump administration’s position in the case is a reversal of the federal government’s original stance on the issue. Under the Obama administration, government lawyers had argued in support of the unions.

The Rauner administration did not respond to a request for comment. But one of Rauner’s Democratic rivals was quick to pounce on it as evidence that the governor is aligned with Trump.

Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker said in a statement that “after failed attempts to force his special interest agenda on Illinois, Rauner is partnering with Trump to roll back worker’s rights on a national scale.”

Rauner, who is seeking re-election, has tried to keep a distance from Trump to avoid alienating the moderate voters he’ll need in order to win a second term.

By: Kim Geiger

Chicago Tribune

Twitter @kimgeiger

Article Photo: President Donald Trump’s administration has endorsed Gov. Bruce Rauner’s side of a legal case challenging fees public employee unions collect from nonmembers, (AFP/Getty Images, left; Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)



JB Pritzker Event!

jb governor         feelthepower

JB Pritzker is making a special announcement tomorrow, December 8th at the Theatre on the Lake. We will be showing JB our support with a sea of LiUNA orange! Bring everyone you can for JB’s announcement!

A call to Laborers to join together at 10:30am! The event begins sharply at 11:00am.

2401 N. Lake Shore Drive

Chicago, Illinois 

Wear your LiUNA orange brothers and sisters!





Building America Starts with the Builders

LIUNA Members on Hill to Urge Congress to Save TPS

Washington, D.C. (December 5, 2017) – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement on LIUNA’s advocacy for Temporary Protected Status.

Today, LIUNA members joined fellow union members of UNITE HERE, UFCW, IUPAT, the Iron Workers and Bricklayers to deliver 40,000 petitions pushing Congress to fix the Temporary Protect Status program (TPS) which will expire without legislative action.


The Temporary Protected Status Program is a crucial humanitarian program that not only provides an opportunity to get ahead in the United States for those who have fled natural disaster and conflicts in their home country, it is also crucial to the construction industry.


An estimated 30 percent of TPS-holders, work in the construction industry – literally building America.


Congress must not allow political wrangling to short-change our economy and upend the lives of immigrants in the TPS program, who have become part of the fabric of our communities, working, paying taxes and raising families.


LIUNA strongly urges Congress to adopt a legislative fix to extend the TPS program before the clock runs out.





Wisconsin Has Seen Largest Middle-Class Decline Of Any State, Study Finds


Economist Says De-Unionization, Recession, Erosion Of Manufacturing Are Factors

A new state-by-state analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that Wisconsin experienced the biggest decline in middle-class households in the country between the years 2000 and 2013.

The study found that the percentage of households in the middle class dropped in all 50 states, with Wisconsin’s drop from 54.6 percent to 48.9 percent being the most significant. Moreover, Wisconsin saw a 14 percent decline in median household income.

Marc Levine — professor of history, economic development and urban studies, and director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development — attributed the state’s shrinking middle class to the Great Recession, among other factors. He said reversing the trend would require raising the minimum wage and restoring unions, especially in the manufacturing industry.

Wisconsin’s economy relies on manufacturing perhaps more than any other state, said Levine. When manufacturing gets hit hard, he said, Wisconsin gets hit hard too.

Since 2000, Wisconsin has lost about 90,000 — between 18 to 20 percent — of its manufacturing jobs, according to Levine, in part due to free trade agreements and Chinese imports.

Levine said another big part of the story has been “downward occupational skidding.” Laid-off manufacturing workers have been displaced into lower-paying jobs in the service industry, and those who have been able to continue working in the manufacturing industry have seen stagnant wages.

“It turns out the manufacturing jobs aren’t paying what they use to anymore, and a big chunk of that is because of the de-unionization that has occurred,” said Levine.  

In the late 1960s, an estimated 35 percent of Wisconsin’s total workforce and 50 percent of manufacturing workers were unionized, according to Levine. Today, roughly 11 percent of Wisconsin workers are in a union. That figure is 17 percent for manufacturing workers.

To grow Wisconsin’s middle class, Levine recommends raising the minimum wage to a “living wage” and supporting the ability of workers to engage in collective bargaining.

“In Wisconsin, we’ve obviously gone the opposite way over the last three or four years,” Levine said. “Act 10 took away the collective bargaining rights for public employees, and the rate of unionization in the public sector has declined by about half in the state. And of course, we just passed a right-to-work law and right-to-work states, the research suggests, tend to have lower wages. Those sorts of policies are pushing us in the wrong direction.”

By Scottie Lee Meyers
Thursday, April 2, 2015, 3:35pm

Back on the trail, Rauner recycles campaign themes with Madigan attacks

rauner 3

Gov. Bruce Rauner hit the road Monday as he asks voters for a second term in office, recycling many of the same ideas he’s long pushed with little success.

The Republican governor began his weeklong tour of Illinois at a manufacturing plant in Decatur, a familiar backdrop for a politician who argues many of the state’s financial problems can be solved by cutting regulations on businesses so they can create more jobs.

While he’s failed to gain much traction in an area he says is key to business growth — curbing the cost of workers’ compensation insurance for employees hurt on the job — Rauner says he’s not ready to give up. He identified other priorities that likewise aren’t new, including freezing property taxes and giving voters the ability to reduce tax levies through ballot referendums, and enacting term limits on lawmakers through an amendment to the state constitution.

Rauner did add one new goal: rolling back the major income tax increase lawmakers put in place this summer as part of a larger deal to end the state’s two-year budget impasse. While some Republicans joined Democrats to override Rauner’s veto of the tax and budget plan, the governor put the blame squarely on political nemesis and longtime Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“Mike Madigan and his legislators put in place a major income tax hike on you,” Rauner told about a dozen workers following a tour at T/CCI Manufacturing, which produces heavy-duty compressors.

Rauner said he’d like to reduce the 4.95 percent personal income tax rate to 3 percent “over the next few years.”

“There are many states that have no income tax. Now I haven’t argued that we should go that far, though I am hoping for that, but there’s no reason that we can’t bring that income tax hike back down to 3 percent,” Rauner said.

Asked how he would make up for the billions of dollars in lost revenue, Rauner said he would seek to cut costs related to the state’s public employee pension system and health care program for the poor. Again, he pointed to Madigan as standing in the way of those efforts.

“We waste billions of dollars in pension costs, in Medicaid, in the size of our government bureaucracy, and if we worked together to shrink those costs, and I’ve recommended ways to do that, so far Speaker Madigan’s lawmakers have not wanted to do pension reform, they’ve not wanted to help us on Medicaid reform, but we can do it if we get like-minded legislators in place,” Rauner said.

The governor called on voters to ask those seeking office if they planned to support Madigan’s re-election as speaker, a strategy Rauner first employed during legislative races in 2016. In the end, 66 of 67 Democratic members voted for Madigan to serve his 17th term as speaker.

“Don’t vote for anyone who won’t promise not to vote for Mike Madigan to be speaker again after 35 years,” Rauner said. “We need fresh leadership and more ethical government.”

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the speaker “has been supportive of attempts to compromise” but noted earlier efforts to curb pension costs have been thrown out by the courts. Brown also asked if Rauner would spend money coming in from the tax increase given his opposition, before comparing Rauner to imprisoned former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“Those people who thought Gov. Blagojevich was the nutty governor, this guy is racing ahead of former Gov. Blagojevich,” Brown said.

Though Rauner was able to chip away at Madigan’s majority by picking up four seats in the House in 2016, he’s had trouble keeping Republicans united. Divisions that first appeared over the budget deepened when Rauner signed legislation to expand taxpayer-funded abortion despite previously pledging to veto the bill.

That angered conservatives, leading some in his own party to label Rauner a “failed” governor. Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Republican from Wheaton, is pursuing a primary challenge.

Rauner shrugged off the criticism Monday, and said he is leading a movement that transcends political party.

“What we’ve got to do is united around what we can agree on,” Rauner said. “That’s how we’ll get it done. Us coming together. This is a movement. This is really not about Democrats against Republicans. This is about the people of Illinois pushing back against a broken system.”

By Monique Garcia

Contact Reporter

Chicago Tribune

Twitter @moniquegarcia

Article Photo: Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at the Governor’s Day rally at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Aug. 16, 2017. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

State lawmakers, inflatable rats call attention to Schaumburg union protest

Illinois state senators Laura Murphy and Cristina Castro probably thought they’d accidentally driven onto the set of a monster movie Friday.

There, in front of Lifetime Fitness on Higgins Road in Schaumburg, they spotted not one, but several menacing giant rats looming over small groups of people.

It wasn’t a movie, but a labor protest using those inflatable rodents with prominent white teeth and sharp claws.

“We are protesting Lifetime Fitness because in Northbrook, they’re constructing a facility that’s being built by 90 percent nonunion workers,” said Leo Esparza of Chicago, a manager for Laborers Local One. “We want to turn things around and supply local jobs for local people.”

Esparza said the company imported workers from Iowa and Tennessee to pay less in wages and benefits.

Calls to Schaumburg’s Lifetime Fitness center were not returned.

Democrats Murphy, of Des Plaines, and Castro, of Elgin, spoke with Local One members.

“We were driving along and saw our friends from labor,” Murphy said, “so we stopped by to show our support.

These jobs should stay here because that way these folks provide for our local economy and they will spend their money in our local economy instead of spending their money in another state.”

Laborers Local One also had protesters at the Lifetime Fitness Northbrook site, Esparza said.


Article by: 

Daily Herald

Article Photo: Members of Laborers Local One union protest in front of Lifetime Fitness, 900 E. Higgins Road, Schaumburg.

House can’t work up override of Rauner’s veto of ‘right-to-work’ bill


SPRINGFIELD —  Calling it “a victory for the people,” Gov. Bruce Rauner notched another win Tuesday in his battle against organized labor, as the Illinois House failed in its second attempt to override his veto of a bill that would prohibit local municipalities to side step unions by enacting “right-to-work” zones.

The House vote was 70 to 39, one short of the 71 needed to override the governor’s veto. It was a virtual mirror of the House’s attempt two weeks ago, when the override failed by a 70-42 vote.

In an effort to win GOP votes, Democrats introduced a separate bill to remove a controversial portion of the measure that provided a criminal penalty to local governments that enact right-to-work.  That “trailer bill” passed the House Tuesday, 73 to 38.

And despite the second override of the right-to-work bill, the Illinois Senate plans to also vote on that trailer bill to get Rauner on record with another veto.

But it wasn’t enough to win over Republicans for the override, which had already passed the state Senate by a 42-13 vote.  The House can only attempt to override a bill twice, so Tuesday’s failed effort was Democrats’ final chance.

A key point in Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda,” right-to-work essentially allows people to work in union jobs without paying union dues. Rauner has argued that without it, local municipalities are denied flexibility, resulting in fewer jobs, slower economic growth and higher taxes.

The measure that failed Tuesday would have prohibited local units of government from instituting “right-to-work” ordinances. The bill was pushed after the village of Lincolnshire in 2015 enacted such an ordinance, which unions challenged in court. A federal district court agreed with the unions that local right-to-work ordinances are pre-empted by the National Labor Relations Act, which allows states to pass right-to-work laws but doesn’t allow local units of government to do so.

“In a victory for the people, the House of Representatives today kept the door open to stronger job growth in Illinois,” Rauner said in a statement Tuesday.

“Courageous House lawmakers joined together to make Illinois more competitive so local communities can continue to decide how to make their economies stronger, help their businesses grow and give individual workers the freedom to support a union as they choose.

“Thanks to their action, Illinois is better positioned to be a national and global competitor.

“Now we need to buckle down and continue the work of creating economic opportunity for all of the people of Illinois.”

BUSINESS 11/08/2017, 09:43am


Article Photo: The video in which Gov. Bruce Rauner officially announces his re-election bid includes footage of the leather-clad Republican riding his Harley Davidson through Illinois. | Screenshot