Suggested Litmus Test for Gov. Rauner’s Agenda: Will this Grow the Middle Class?

The Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, which serves as the Central Labor Council for Lake and McHenry Counties, passed the following resolution at the April 2015 general delegate meeting:

RESOLUTION TO PROTECT THE MIDDLE CLASS OF LAKE AND McHENRY COUNTIES WHEREAS, the Middle Class is the backbone of our country, state and community and a vibrant Middle Class is essential to the nation’s prosperity; and

WHEREAS, the Middle Class pays the most taxes of any income bracket, spends the most money at our local businesses and drives the local economy; and

WHEREAS, in order to maintain a vibrant Middle Class we must attract and maintain jobs with family-supporting wages and benefits; and

WHEREAS the labor movement is a historic cornerstone of the American middle class and remains essential to ensuring that economic prosperity is broadly shared by all working people; and

WHEREAS, creation of right to work (for less) zones, repeal of prevailing wage requirements on construction projects and elimination of standardized subjects of bargaining would create a “race to the bottom” that would reduce the pay of our community’s workforce and, therefore, harm the local businesses dependent upon local customers; and

WHEREAS, numerous studies have shown that right to work (for less) laws lead to lower wages and benefits and more frequent workplace deaths; and

WHEREAS, the federal courts have ruled repeatedly and consistently that right to work (for less) laws are the sole jurisdiction of state and territorial governments, not local governments; and

WHEREAS, the Illinois Attorney General has recently reaffirmed the legal opinion that local governments do not have the authority to pass local right to work (for less) ordinances; and

WHEREAS, passage of a local right to work (for less) ordinance would undoubtedly generate a legal challenge that our government would have to fruitlessly defend at a significant cost to our taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, prevailing wage laws create a level playing field for local construction contractors by forcing out-of-state contractors to bid on projects based on the skill and efficiency of their workforce, not how far they can drive down wages and benefits; and

WHEREAS, by benefitting local contractors, prevailing wage laws greatly increase the likelihood that construction workers from our community will be employed on the projects that their tax dollars and those of our other tax payers fund; and

WHEREAS, local construction workers, when gainfully employed, patronize our local businesses and help create jobs in our local economy; and

WHEREAS, subjects of collective bargaining for public sector workers are defined by state law and to allow local governments to determine which subjects will be on the bargaining table for their employees would limit Middle Class workers’ ability to advocate for themselves; and

WHEREAS, a vital and accessible Workers’ Compensation system is essential to the economic security of working families hit with unexpected injury or illness; and

WHEREAS, changes to the Workers’ Compensation system that disproportionately affect older workers are unjust; and

WHEREAS, the Local Government Distributive Fund (LDGF) is essential to provide the local services the citizens of our communities need and expect; and

WHEREAS, cutting LDGF funds to local governments will result in harmful cuts in services and likely create tax increases at the local level; therefore

BE IT RESOLVED that the Delegates, Executive Board and Affiliates of Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO hereby stands with and supports the Middle Class residents of our county/municipality/unit of government and pledge that we will not take any action against them; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be delivered to the Governor of the State of Illinois, the President of the Illinois Senate, the Republican Leader of the Illinois Senate, the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, and the Republican Leader of the Illinois House of Representatives.

PASSED by the Delegates, Executive Board and Affiliates of Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO

this 22nd day of April 2015.

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