Rauner's proposed 'right-to-work zones' meet resistance in Oswego

Eric Horng Image
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Proposed 'right-to-work zones' meet resistance in Oswego
A standing-room-only crowd gathered as the largely pro-union audience gave the village board an earful in Oswego.

OSWEGO, Ill. (WLS) -- Gov. Bruce Rauner's push to establish so-called "right-to-work zones" triggered a debate Tuesday night in southwest suburban Oswego.

A standing-room-only crowd gathered as the largely pro-union audience gave the village board an earful.

"If you support this issue, you are supporting the breaking of laws," said Hale Landes, a union worker.

"Everybody knows what this is about. You don't need to do your due diligence and research it, and 'blah, blah, blah.' We all know what this is about," said Kenneth Edwards, International Union of Operating Engineers.

At issue is Gov. Rauner's proposal to let local governments, in essence, write their own labor laws by creating "right-to-work zones" where employees would not be required to join a union or pay dues.

"If they wish to be in the union, terrific. They are entitled to join the union, and they have every availability to do that. If they do not want to be a member of the union and don't agree with the union's positions, they shouldn't be forced to pay for those positions," Rauner said on Feb. 9.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the governor's proposal violated federal and state law. She said right-to-work laws could only be enacted state-wide, not in individual counties or cities. The issue is likely to be settled by the courts.

"This is not a local issue. So, one, why do we have it?" said Pam Parr, an Oswego village trustee.

Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq said he was asked by the governor's office to put the issue before the board and the community.

"I think we need an adequate amount of time to digest information and then see if there's anything we do agree on that we can take back to the governor," LeClercq said.

But on Tuesday night, the feedback was one-sided.

"To turn Oswego into a 'right-to-work zone' sends a clear message to the working people of this community: your rights do not matter," said Brian Fauth, an Oswego teacher.

The village board did not take any vote or action, but was merely a discussion.