Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Governor Rauner believes he is “duty-bound [to destroy the middle class and public employee unions]…”

“…Rauner told the Sun-Times on Monday that ‘forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers. Government union bargaining and government union political activity are inexorably linked. An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights - and something that, as governor, I am duty-bound to correct... There is no principled distinction between the unions and the various special interest groups who must expend money on political activities to protect their own favored programs and services…’” (Illinois Governor Declares War on Unions).

“…Rauner -- and other anti-union ideologues -- claim that workers should not be ‘forced’ to join unions against their will. In fact no one is forced to join a union. The provisions in labor agreements with state unions -- in many states -- require that after state workers have democratically chosen a bargaining agent, that employees who do not wish to join the union should pay a ‘fair share’ contribution to support the portions of the union's operations that negotiate and administer the provisions of the labor contract from which they are benefiting. Note that they are not required to contribute to any of the political activities of the union.

“This is the same principle we use at all levels of democratic government. Once an election is held for mayor and the city council, you can't refuse to pay taxes to support the functions of the government from which you benefit. City government produces what economists refer to a ‘public goods.’ They engage in activities that benefit everyone, even if you don't ‘pay’ for the products and services. That's why we have taxes. Otherwise there would be perverse incentive for ‘free riders’ who would benefit but don't contribute. The same is true with unions.

“Rauner's actions have nothing to do with giving employees a ‘choice.’ They have everything to do with reducing the resources that are available to unions -- which he is determined to destroy. Since unions -- and collective bargaining -- are the major weapons everyday people have to raise their wages, his assault on unions is a direct attack on the middle class and its future in America. It's not just that Rauner drips with hypocrisy. His view of the world is emblematic of the massive difference in perspective between most ordinary Americans and the privileged .01%....” (Meet IL Governor Bruce Rauner – Poster Boy for War on Middle Class).


Instead of attacking unions, public employees and other middle-class citizens, Governor Rauner should be “duty-bound to correct” the recent legislative attempt to sabotage public employees’ constitutional rights and benefits. He should address the shady political bargains among legislators and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Civic Federation, and Illinois Policy Institute, et al. -- “critical cogs in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers.”

In his current legal state of mind, he should consider these “clear violations” of rights: the recent contraventions to the Pension and Contract Clauses, the taking of property without due process of law and a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the equal protection of the laws in Senate Bill 1 (Public Act 98-0599, December 2013).

He should also investigate the so-called "Pension Ramp" or flawed re-funding schedule (Public Act 88-0593) that previous policymakers and business leaders designed and passed 20 years ago with approval from union leadership in 1995.

He should then confront these facts: Illinois policymakers have consistently failed to make the annual required contributions to the state’s pension systems, primarily because they could then pay for services and their “pet projects” without raising taxes. Illinois “suffers from structural deficits or from failure of revenues to grow quickly as the cost of services…, [and that] structural deficits stem largely from an out-of-date tax system, coupled with costs that rise faster than the economy…” (The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).

Governor Rauner should focus on “fixing these structural problems [and] help [Illinois] balance [its] operating budgets without resorting to [duplicitous attacks on middle-class workers]” (The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities). Of course, this will not be his course of action.

Update February 13:

From Capital Fax:

“Gov. Bruce Rauner’s appointee for Illinois Comptroller, Leslie Munger, won’t abide by his executive order setting aside ‘fair share’ union fees without a court order. It’s a decision that the state’s top lawyer is backing. ‘We agree with the Comptroller,’ Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said in an email. ‘Fair share fees are constitutional under the current law and she must follow the law.’”

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