Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday vetoed a bill that would prevent local governments from setting up their own “right-to-work” zones.
Democrats sent Rauner the bill to try to combat an ongoing legal battle that the governor hopes will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The measure he rejected asserts that only the General Assembly can make laws creating right-to-work policies, in which people can work for a company in union-protected positions without having to join the union or pay union fees.
Democrats’ bill followed an effort mounted by the Lake County village of Lincolnshire, which in 2015 approved a right-to-work ordinance that was later struck down by a federal district court. The court ruled that only states have the power to enact laws prohibiting mandatory union participation.
That ruling is now being appealed. But supporters of the Lincolnshire ordinance, including Rauner, are hoping to draw on a contradictory ruling in Kentucky to inspire the Supreme Court to take up the issue.
Rauner has long advocated for local communities to have the ability to enact right-to-work measures if they choose to do so.
On Thursday he told an Illinois Chamber of Commerce luncheon that he planned to veto the bill, and he alluded to the court challenge that is underway. The effort is being led by the Illinois-based Liberty Justice Center, which is an affiliate of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank with close ties to Rauner.
“We’re in federal court right now to make sure that states can have their local governments, counties and cities decide for themselves their labor regulations,” Rauner said.
The governor later told reporters that he hopes the case will be heard by the Supreme Court in 2019. Lawmakers will have an opportunity to try to override Rauner’s veto when they return to Springfield in November, though it is unclear if they’ll have the votes to do so.
His veto came a day after a victory for the governor on another labor issue. On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case originally brought by Rauner. It challenges whether government employee unions should be able to collect fees from nonmembers, a critical question for organized labor nationwide that the court deadlocked over last year.