Pritchard: Illinois has long way to go before enacting right-to-work legislation
Kentucky will join the 26 other states in the nation with right-to-work laws, causing some to wonder if Illinois will join the movement anytime in the foreseeable future.
Kentucky Republicans approved the legislation that would make it illegal for workers to be forced to join a labor union or pay dues to keep a job.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed the legislation, called HB 1, into law last week.
Michigan and Indiana already have right-to-work laws. Missouri, which has a GOP-controlled legislature, is expected to follow suit this year after electing a Republican governor. Wisconsin has a right-to-work law, though it is being challenged in court.
With many neighboring states leaning towards right-to-work laws, many wonder if such laws will become law of the land in Illinois.
Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Sycamore) said discussing the possibility of such laws being adopted in Illinois is premature.
“I think what we need to focus our attention on, which would help build some kind of consensus, is what are the advantages that states around us are experiencing because they are right to work,” Pritchard told the Sangamon Sun. “What’s the situation for those employees because that’s what we hear from the Democrats all the time -- that we would be damaging the middle class, lowering their ability to have an acceptable lifestyle, and I’ve not seen the numbers to answer those kinds of questions.”
Pritchard said he would like to know the consequences, both positive and negative, before debating the issue.
“I know (Gov. Bruce Rauner) has been pushing on this notion since before he was elected -- (for) two years -- and you can see that we have not made much movement in that direction,” he said.
Rauner has stated that right-to-work laws would make businesses in Illinois more competitive and should be voted on in local communities instead of at the state level. But the movement has faced some resistance.
A federal court recently struck down a local right-to-work ordinance in Lincolnshire, Illinois, ruling that only the General Assembly had the authority to enact such laws.
Pritchard said that Illinois, which was the last state to pass legislation on concealed carry, may be the last in the nation to pass right-to-work legislation, too.
“(Illinois) moves slowly,” he said. “We have strong support for the current union system, and any legislation that is introduced is going absolutely nowhere, I’ll guarantee you that because the conversation, the movement of citizens is not strong enough to go in that direction.”
Pritchard said his concern is that Illinois needs to be competitive and should address some of the key issues standing in the way of prosperity for many Illinoisans.
“If we are not competitive on wages, we need to be competitive on taxes or utility costs or transportation issues, (or) something that gives our businesses a reason to be in Illinois,” Pritchard said. “And I don’t think labor costs is totally the determining factor.”
Other issues that need to be dealt with -- and a better place to start -- Pritchard said, are workers’ comp, unemployment insurance and tort issues.