It was a standing room only crowd for Council’s latest meeting, as hundreds came out to urge them to vote against a resolution that would support Governor Rauner’s Turnaround agenda, focused on overhauling the way unions do business.
His proposal seeks to limit the influences of unions through a variety of methods, including making cost-cutting changes to worker compensation laws, and repealing the state’s prevailing wage laws. Before bringing it to the Council, Mayor Elect Steve Chirico, offered changes to the resolution, removing sections that talked about “Right-To-Work” or “Empowerment Zones,” which give local voters control over collective bargaining. But that wasn’t enough to satisfy local union members.
“This resolution, let’s really call it what it is, it’s right to work for less, it’s union busting, but more importantly it’s the erosion of the middle class. I am a very proud member of the middle class, I am the 99% not the 1%,” said one person who spoke during public comment.
Also raising their voice was U.S. Congressman Bill Foster.
“Rather than lifting Illinois up to make life better for working families, the Governor’s divisive plan would drag all corners of the state into a race to the bottom. Unions didn’t cause the problems we face and cutting workers pay won’t grow our economy, it will shrink it,” said another speaker.
Union members cited a study by two state labor and economic experts, which predicts that if just half of Illinois’ counties adopted Right-To-Work policies, total labor income would be cut by $1.3 billion, and the state’s economy would shrink by $1.5 billion.
But proponents of Rauner’s resolution think it could bring in money, drawing in business that currently goes elsewhere in search of a cheaper workforce.
“Local Empowerment Zones would give residents, taxpayers and voters a direct say in how competitive and thus attractive to new businesses and jobs their community will be. I urge the Naperville City Council to join the growing number of communities which has decided to stand by Governor Rauner and endorse his commitment to reforming Illinois and return as economic engine as the Midwest,” said another speaker.
As the night went on, it became clear that more discussion was necessary before passing the resolution. As this was the final Council meeting for the majority of the board members, they decided the topic should be tabled, to be taken up again later by the newly elected council.
“Collectively we can work together, and find solutions that we can all live with, we all might not be happy with, but we can all live with, so we can make Illinois great again. I do want to support our Governor in his effort to make Illinois great again, because what would be wrong with that? How we get there there’s a lot of discussion and a lot of debate that we’re going to have to get through, but we need to get there, said Mayor Elect Steve Chirico.
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