Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Governor Rauner Sued the Unions

Governor Rauner came out swinging in a lawsuit against public sector labor unions that is expected to go all twelve rounds. At issue is the section of Illinois Public Labor Relations Act that allows covered employees to refrain from organization and collective bargaining, but still requires those employees to "pay their proportionate share of the costs of the collective bargaining process..." In other words, you don't have to be a member of the union, but you still have to pay the union.  

The Governor's lawsuit alleges that the so-called "fair share" provisions are coerced political speech that violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The lawsuit points out that the collective bargaining process is inherently political in nature because labor unions are some of the most powerful and politically active organizations in the state. The Governor's theory is that "compulsory fees constitute a form of compelled [political] speech" and that employees who do not want to join the unions cannot be forced to contribute money to a political cause with which they do not agree. 

The lawsuit also notes that in fiscal year 2015, general fund pension costs total more than $7.5 billion, which consume 24% of the states general revenues. To highlight the problem, the lawsuit notes that a state government employee represented by the unions who earns an average annual salary of $38,977 over the course of a 26-year government career contributes approximately $40,539 to the State's pension system, but is entitled to receive $821,588 in pension benefits over a twenty-year retirement, plus retiree health care. I'm no math major, but that does not seem right. 

Here is the complaint:

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