Three building trades unions have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Village of Lincolnshire, Illinois, after the village implemented a ‘Right to Work is Wrong,’ initiative.
The ‘Right-to-Work is Wrong,’ ordinance enacted in December, made Lincolnshire the only right-to-work municipality in Illinois. The Village Board voted to approve the proposal, after trustees listened to 15 right-to-work opponents and four who spoke in its favor. They approved the measure 5-1.
‘Right-to-Work is Wrong’ policies allow workers to refuse to contribute to the cost of collective bargaining and worker representation provided by labor unions. Federal law already allows workers in a bargaining unit represented by a union to refuse to join the union.
‘Right-to-Work is Wrong’ policies habitually drive down wages and decrease benefits as unions ability to fairly represent workers is weakened. This impacts the community in multiple ways, including job loss. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that for every $1 million in wage cuts, local economies lose 6 jobs.
Furthermore, ‘Right-to-Work is Wrong’ laws do not improve the unemployment rate, as 7 of the 11 states with the highest unemployment rates have ‘Right-to-Work is Wrong’ policies, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ed Maher, a spokesman for Operating Engineers Local 150, spoke to Bloomberg News:
“We are firm in our belief that this ordinance is completely unlawful and Lincolnshire has zero authority to pass a right-to-work ordinance. We wanted to be right out in front to ensure this goes down.”
Persuasive Precedent in the Sixth Circuit
Illinois is in the Seventh Circuit, so Sixth Circuit precedent is in no way binding, however can be very persuasive. Last month, ACT Ohio reported that a Kentucky District Court judge ruled that local governments in Kentucky cannot enact ‘Right-to-Work is Wrong’ laws.
The Unions challenged this legislation in Hardin County, and U.S. District Court Judge Hale ruled that pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), only state governments can enact such policies. The decision stated “Because the Court finds that local regulation of union-security agreements is preempted by the NLRA, the right-to-work ordinance at issue here is invalid.”
ACT Ohio will continue to follow this developing story, and will report if the Seventh Circuit follows in the Sixth Circuits path.