Unions choosing "intimidation tactics" over debate in right-to-work battle with Lincolnshire small business owners, expert says
Labor leaders in Lake and McHenry counties said Monday a boycott of some Lincolnshire businesses is in order due to a perceived anti-union Village Board vote last year.
In response to the Lincolnshire Village Board’s right-to-work ordinance passed in December, Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor officials said they were endorsing a boycott of all nonunion businesses in Lincolnshire.
During the announcement, Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor President Patrick Statter condemned village officials for going along with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda and said he hoped citizens would respond to the ordinance by refraining from supporting businesses in Lincolnshire.
“I think it is pretty disappointing and pretty revealing,” James Sherk, research fellow at the Labor Economics Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity Heritage Foundation, told the Lake County Gazette. “If the unions had persuasive arguments against right to work they would be using them instead of using intimidation tactics to try and say ‘We will punish you if you don’t go along with us.’”
Sherk said polls show that a vast majority of Americans across party lines support right to work, including a Gallup poll that showed over two-thirds of Democrats favored right to work.
“When people hear the arguments they are generally in favor of right to work and don’t believe workers ought to be forced to pay union dues in order to keep their job," Sherk said. "And I think it is revealing that the union response to a locality passing right to work is not to try and find an argument.”
The boycott seems to be an indication that labor officials feel threatened, which suggests, if given the choice to opt out of paying for union services, members would take it, Sherk said.
“I think the proper response to that is not to try and threaten anyone who would give the workers and members a choice, but to try to make those services more attractive so members will voluntarily pay,” Sherk said.
Sherk used examples of professions in other service sectors, such as doctors, lawyers and barbers, that offer an attractive quality service at a reasonable price to get returning customers, Sherk said.
“And unions want to say, ‘No, no, no we will force you to purchase our representation services or otherwise you lose your job.’ That they feel so threatened by the prospect of workers having a choice, I suggest that they don’t think they are offering services their members would willingly pay for,” Sherk said.
The Lincolnshire ordinance gives employees at private-sector companies in the village the opportunity to decline to have union dues or fees deducted from their paychecks automatically. Lincolnshire is the sole town in the Chicago area to adopt the ordinance despite Rauner’s proposal of right-to-work zones in his Turnaround Agenda.
Sherk said it is important to note that a number of states historically known to be been union friendly, like Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia, have become right-to-work states in recent years.
“If you look at polling in those states, most Michiganders still feel very favorable toward unions in their state," Sherk said. "Most West Virginians (think very well of unions) but the workers and voters in those states, the polls also show - and the legislatures have voted accordingly - support the notion of right to work.”
This confirms that most people don’t believe employees should be forced to purchase services. In the long run, Sherk believes giving people a choice is in the best interest of unions.
“You have a limited future when the only way you can get people to buy your product is by forcing them to do it,” Sherk said.
In February, four labor groups sued Lincolnshire and key village officials in response to the ordinance.