Lincolnshire forced unionization case expected to go to U.S. Supreme Court
An attorney for the village of Lincolnshire plans to take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court after a federal appeals court upheld a lower court's decision denying the Chicago suburb the ability to implement a right-to-work ordinance.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that allows states, not local governments, to pass right-to-work laws, is at odds with a 2016 Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, Diana Rickert, vice president of Liberty Justice Center, told the Chicago Sun-Times shortly after the verdict was released.
Rickert represented Lincolnshire in the case.
The earlier ruling, in a Kentucky case, favored local governments establishing their own right-to-work laws.
"We now have a split between the 6th and 7th Circuit Courts, which presents us with the opportunity to appeal this case to the U.S. Supreme Court," Rickert told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We intend to do so."
In February 2017, the village of Lincolnshire asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court to weigh in on the case, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 et al. v. Village of Lincolnshire, over its right-to-work ordinance. The 2015 mandate had been struck down by a federal judge the previous month.
On Friday, Sept. 28, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court affirmed the federal judge's earlier decision, ruling that local governments do not have power under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to bar mandatory union membership.
Ruling that local governments have that power under the NLRA would create "administrative nightmares" because of the sheer number of "general purpose governments" in the U.S. and Illinois, the ruling said.
"Illinois alone has almost 7,000 local governments," 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Circuit Judge Diane Pamela Wood wrote in the court's opinion. "Not only are these jurisdictions more numerous than the states by several orders of magnitude, but they are also smaller. In many trades or industries, the job sites of workers might bring them to numerous municipalities every week. Even a single plant might cross municipal lines."
Suggesting that businesses "operate exclusively" within a governmental entity's borders "strikes us as fanciful," Wood wrote. "Is an employee subject to an agency agreement one day, when his job takes him to nearby Chicago, and not the next day, when he happens to be working on-site in Lincolnshire? What if neighboring Buffalo Grove has the opposite law?"
"The sensible conclusion," Wood wrote, is that the relevant section of the NLRA "operates only at the state level.”