The Anti-Union Agenda

Since the day he took office in January 2015, Governor Bruce Rauner has waged an all-out war against unions and working people in the State of Illinois. Since taking office, Governor Rauner has followed in the footsteps of others like Scott Walker from Wisconsin, by doing everything in his power to dismantle unions and their ability to represent employees in this State.

Over the last two years, the Governor’s anti-union agenda has seen many battles on various fronts. In 2015, Governor Rauner filed a lawsuit against 27 public sector unions representing State employees, seeking to prohibit the unions from receiving fair payments from individuals who benefit from the representational services that the unions provide. The Governor’s lawsuit was quickly dismissed.

However, a subsequent suit was filed by two individuals, with the backing of certain conservative, anti-labor political action committees, seeking the exact same prohibition against public sector unions. The unions successfully defeated that second suit as well, but the Governor and his cronies refuse to give up their fight. That case is now on appeal at the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Governor and his anti-union political backers have made it clear that they intend to take that case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

For the past two years, Governor Rauner has refused to work with democratic legislators to pass a balanced budget. In 2015, the Governor’s failure to pass a budget almost resulted in tens of thousands of State workers not being paid for their work. The same 27 public sector unions which Governor Rauner had recently just sued successfully prevented that disaster by obtaining an injunction requiring the State to pay its employees using a “stop-gap” budget. Unfortunately, however, that Band-Aid may soon come off due to a recent dispute between the Attorney General and the Governor. The labor lawyers at Katz, Friedman have been and continue to be actively involved in that litigation on behalf of the public sector unions seeking to ensure that State employees continue to receive their paychecks.

In 2016, Governor Rauner’s anti-union administration took specific aim at the Illinois Nurses Association, which represents the nurses who work at various State-run facilities such as the Veteran’s Affairs Homes, state prisons, youth centers and mental health facilities. The Governor’s attack on nurses is a stark indication that this administration will to do whatever it takes to dismantle the unions, regardless of the collateral damage it may cause to the public good. For instance, the Governor and his representatives have been making plans to subcontract out nursing positions at the VA Homes, mental health facilities and prisons across the State despite overwhelming evidence that privatization of such services will result in a lower standard of care at those facilities. Indeed, just recently one of Rauner’s department heads, quite offensively, suggested that the negative impact to patient safety which would result from subcontracting is not a concern to the Illinois Nurses Association or its members. Certainly, any nurse, union or not, knows that patient safety is the paramount concern of any healthcare provider. Yet, for Governor Rauner and his representatives, patient safety apparently takes a backseat to stripping employees’ of their rights.

The labor lawyers at Katz, Friedman have been heavily involved in the fight against Governor Rauner’s anti-union agenda. Our labor attorneys have been and continue to represent the Illinois Nurses Association in various State Court and State Labor Board litigation against the Governor and his administration. The firm is devoted to protecting the rights of unions, their members and working families throughout the State of Illinois.