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Right-to-Work Battle in Illinois Enters Cease Fire – For Now

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Illinois is completely surrounded by right-to-work states that have laws making it unlawful for companies to require union dues as a condition of employment. Notwithstanding the recent trend of states enacting such laws, the Illinois legislature tried its best this year to block right-to-work legislation within its borders.

 

Earlier this year, the Illinois legislature passed a law that would prohibit local governments from enacting their own right-to-work laws after one Illinois municipality attempted to enact a right-to-work ordinance in 2015. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the legislation – based on his belief that right-to-work laws promote business growth – and this week the legislature fell one vote short of overriding his veto. There are signals legislators may attempt to revive the legislation next year. Thus, this remains an issue for Illinois employers to watch.

 

This issue is not unique to Illinois; local governments in Kentucky enjoyed some success with their own right-to-work ordinances several years ago before the state enacted its own right-to-work law.

 

Right-to-work laws are permitted under Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act and make it unlawful for companies to require union dues as a condition of employment. In states where right-to-work laws are not enacted, most unionized employers have clauses in their labor agreements that require dues payments as a condition of employment – the clauses generally are known as “union seniority clauses.” At present, 28 states have right-to-work laws on the books. The National Right to Work Foundation maintains a current list.

 

David Pryzbylski

Recently recognized as one of the top under-40 labor lawyers in the nation by Law360, David J. Pryzbylski’s interest in labor relations began early in high school, having grown up next to several of the largest steel mills in the world. Today, David is a Partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Labor & Employment Department. Building on his interest in labor relations, he concentrates a large portion of his practice on assisting employers with traditional labor matters, including collective bargaining; work stoppages; arbitrations; union avoidance training and strategies; union representation elections; unfair labor practice charges; contract administration; and various other labor relations issues.

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