Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rauner vs. Madigan, Lisa that is

It’s starting to feel like the dominant trend in Illinois state government in coming years is going to be brawls of Rauner vs. Madigan, as in the daughter of the Illinois House speaker who is state attorney general in her own right.

Yes, it could be that the biggest obstacle Gov. Bruce Rauner has to overcome to impose his ideological agenda is that of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan – who on Friday took a serious dump all over the fantasies the new governor has about bringing ‘right to work’ concepts to Illinois.

THOSE TYPES OF laws enacted in several conservative-leaning states are meant to undermine organized labor in ways that discourage workers from wanting to join unions. Usually by permitting companies to be able to engage in actions that are hostile to labor interests.

Rauner tries to claim that it somehow forces people who don’t want to join a union to do so if they want to work in certain types of jobs. In reality, it makes it easier for companies to single out for abuse those people who would want to have a labor union help represent their interests on the job.

Right to work is a concept that is big in Southern states, and has spread to certain other parts of the country – including our neighbor states of Indiana and Wisconsin.

In the latter, Gov. Scott Walker wants to think his hostility to organized labor interests will carry him to the White House as a successor to Barack Obama come the 2016 election cycle.

ILLINOIS IS DIFFERENT politically and the Democratic Party interests that control the General Assembly are highly unlikely to ever take full-fledged ‘right to work’ seriously. Which is why Rauner was talking about creation of ‘right to work zones.’

As in certain communities might be able to designate themselves as places where labor unions would have such restrictions that they would be unable to function within those boundaries.

I suspect that Rauner thinks if he could bring the ‘right to work’ concept to parts of Illinois, the rest of the state would soon be clamoring for the same thing.

But on Friday, Madigan (the attorney general, not “Mr. Speaker”) issued a legal opinion saying that Rauner’s idea is not legal. It wouldn’t work. He can’t go about trying to impose ‘right to work’ laws piecemeal by slipping them under the door crack.

IT WOULD BE a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, Madigan wrote, and that it would take the actual General Assembly in full to approve changes in state law to bring ‘right to work’ anywhere in Illinois.

Which is a big ‘fat chance’ in Illinois. There might be some local officials in isolated pockets of the Land of Lincoln (mostly the kind of people who wish they could be called Hoosiers) who would be willing to offer up their communities for an experiment.

But full-state passage isn’t likely. Perhaps too much of Illinois is urban? Or maybe it's just that Illinois people, urban or rural, are too smart to put up with such nonsense.

Rauner could still try to file some sort of lawsuit and convince a judge he’s right. But he’d have Lisa Madigan and all of the attorneys who work for state government in opposition.

IT WOULD EXPOSE his desires as the politically partisan power grab that it truly is.

It wouldn’t be the first time this governor and the current attorney general disagreed on an issue. Let’s remember that when the death of Illinois comptroller Judy Baar Topinka created a vacancy, Rauner’s preference was to appoint a replacement for the full four-year term.

While Madigan ultimately said a special election must be held at some point, rather than let Rauner appointee Leslie Munger have a full four-year term.

Is this going to be the trend; those people with more progressive political leanings viewing Lisa Madigan as their savior to protect the masses of Illinois from being tormented by the governor who (let’s be honest) didn’t win election as much as his opponent in last year’s election cycle lost it.

IF SO, THEN perhaps we ought to view the happenings of Jan. 11 (the day before Inauguration Day) in a new light; when Madigan and Rauner were both at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Chicago Sun-Times got a picture of the two embracing.

Perhaps now in retrospect, the two wish they had wrapped their fingers around each others’ necks!


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