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Local 150 Sues Rauner, Anticipating 'Janus' Loss

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
Gov. Bruce Rauner at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in 2015.

An Illinois labor union is suing Gov. Bruce Rauner over an Illinois law. The case — filed Thursday afternoon in federal court — expects bad news for labor in the (potential) landmark Janus v. AFSCME case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Janus case began in Illinois and is challenging "fair share" fees. That’s where even if workers don’t want to join a union, they still have to pay a fee for things like negotiating wages and handling complaints.

That'll be argued Monday, Feb. 26.

But first, back in Illinois, a new lawsuit. Local 150 of the Operating Engineers is trying to undo unions' legal duty to represent all workers in a bargaining unit, whether or not they join up or pay fair-share fees.

At issue is the "duty of fair representation" outlined in the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act.

Local 150 is basically saying: If the Supreme Court ends fair share, unions shouldn't have to represent workers who won’t pay their dues.

The case is Sweeney v. Rauner, No. 18-cv-01362 (N.D. Ill.) Because you can't really sue a state, the named defendants* are Rauner, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Kimberly Stevens, executive director of the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

* Correction | Feb. 23, 2018: An earlier version of this story misidentified the roles of Rauner, Madigan and Stevens in the case. They are defendants being sued in their official capacity. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

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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