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House Republicans Stick With Rauner On 'Right To Work' Veto

Rich Saal
The State Journal-Register/pool
Gov. Bruce Rauner walks through the Illinois House before his annual budget address in this file photo from earlier this year.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is declaring victory after the House failed to override a key veto. The bill was a priority of organized labor.

Rauner wants local governments to set up “right-to-work zones,” where where unions could still negotiate pay and benefits, but wouldn't be allowed to collect fees from all the covered employees. He says it would lure jobs.

Democrats are trying to ban the zones over Rauner’s veto, but the governor had signaled to Republicans that upholding this veto is a top priority.

State Representative Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, says even though some Republicans reportedly promised unions they’d be with them, “I got a sneaking suspicion we may only end up with 70 votes.”

He was right. The legislation failed on a vote of 70-39 — just one short of the number needed to override a gubernatorial veto.

Rep. Jerry Lee Long, R-Streator, says Illinois is in no danger of becoming a right-to-work state.

“We don’t have enough votes in this House to vote for right-to-work," he says. "There’s no way that we could make the state of Illinois right to work. All this is is political theater."

Long says he’s a third-generation union member, but for unions to survive, Illinois has become more business-friendly.

Only one town in Illinois has actually set up a right-to-work zone: Lincolnshire, in the Chicago suburbs. That fight has moved to the courts.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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