Political agenda taints Lincolnshire right-to-work case
A federal appeals court decision rejecting the Village of Lincolnshire’s right-to-work ordinance is “legally sound,” according to a union lawyer quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times in a Sept. 30 article.
But any consideration of the case by the U.S Supreme Court, which is likely given the appeals ruling, would be tainted by a political agenda, the same lawyer said.
That’s the takeaway of the Lincolnshire case by Sun-Times reporter Mitch Dudek, writing the story for the union-owned paper under the headline, “Appeals Court Decision Favors Labor.”
In the story, Dudek picked select quotes from Judge Diane Wood’s opinion in the decision. Wood wrote that to allow local right-to-work laws would create “administrative nightmares” in the form of a patchwork of confusing and clashing local labor laws.
“No one would be able to figure out what is legal and what is not,” she wrote, noting that Illinois has nearly 7,000 local governments.
But Illinois, as all states, already has a patchwork of laws enacted by its thousands of townships and villages.
“Ordinances across-the-board differ from township to township and village to village,” said Diana Rickert, spokesperson for the Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center, which represented Lincolnshire before the court.
“Local governments have the right to enact their own laws as long they are not in conflict with state or federal law. If a state can enact right-to-work then a local government can as well, especially Lincolnshire since it’s home-rule.”
Rickert further said that in 2016 a Kentucky court had a completely contrary “legally sound” interpretation of federal labor laws as they applied to a right-to-work ordinance there. They are allowed under the National Labor Relations Act, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
The conflicting opinions in Illinois and Kentucky set the case on a path to the Supreme Court.
Twenty-seven states have enacted right-to-work laws that prohibit unions from extracting dues from non-union workers in their bargaining units. And in June, the Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that the laws in 22 states requiring non-union public sector workers to pay dues were unconstitutional.
The unions are fighting back hard after Janus. If local governments are permitted to enact right-to-work laws, the unions would see further erosion of their dues and their PAC dollars, which in turn would weaken their sizable influence in Congress and state legislatures.
Similarly, the unions have a big stake in prevailing wage laws in 32 states. The laws set local union wage rates for publicly-funded construction projects, and require all contractors to adhere to union work rules.
The laws effectively lock out not only non-union contractors but minority contractors as well, writes David Bernstein, law professor at George Mason University.
“In many cases, the history of prevailing wage legislation has been intertwined with the history of racial discrimination,” Bernstein wrote in June in “Prevailing Wage Legislation and the Continuing Issue of Race.” “Economists and others argue that prevailing wage legislation continues to have discriminatory effects on minorities today.”