On Tuesday, the Illinois House of Representatives failed to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1905, which would have banned local governments from creating “right-to-work” zones.
    “Right-to-work” zones would have curtailed unions from being able to collect dues from employees.
    But this is to the detriment of workers, said Local United Auto Workers 2096 President John Bogucki, who felt right-to-work undermines workers’ ability to meaningfully organize.
    Bogucki also disputed the contention that right-to-work states neighboring Illinois, such as Wisconsin and Indiana, were not as economically robust as Rauner and the veto-denying Republicans would have the state’s body politic believe.
    At 70 yeas to 42 nays, the override stalled at one shy of the 71 needed. Absent for the Democrats was Grayslake legislator Rep. Sam Yingling, potentially opening the door for another veto override down the road.
    In a release following Wednesday’s failed override, Rauner said that “The people of Illinois scored a victory today. The House of Representatives rejected efforts to close a door to job opportunity here.
    “Instead, courageous House lawmakers stood together to dump the old playbook and move forward to make Illinois more competitive. Local communities should be able to decide how best to compete for jobs and choose reforms that can make their economies stronger, help their businesses grow and give the freedom to individual workers to support a union at their own discretion.
    “It will help Illinois be better positioned to be competitive nationally and globally and create opportunity for all the people of our state.”
    Bogucki was optimistic that, given Yingling’s absence, a future override attempt would succeed; however, he also warned of consequences should the override failure stand.
    “It’s my personal opinion and the opinion of our local’s opinion that the majority of the Republican Party is bent on destroying the right of workers to organize, not only in this state but across the country,” he said, critiquing what he believed was an intentional misnomer of right-to-work laws.
    The attempt to introduce right-to-work legislation first came to the attention of area residents in April of 2015, when an item related to its discussion appeared on the Livingston County Board. Though a potential motion would have only been advisory at that point, more than 300 people showed up at the scheduled meeting time to protest its very concept.
    There were too many people to accommodate a meeting in either the Historic Courthouse or the Law and Justice Center, so the meeting was held the next week in the Pontiac Township High School gymnasium.
    Proponents of right-to-work, such as Charles and David Koch’s conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, argue that it creates jobs through “economic competitiveness.”
    “It is discouraging to see the Senate overturn Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of SB 1905, which would make it a crime for some local governments to give employees a choice if they want to join and pay a union,” said the AFP Illinois branch in statement following the successful Senate override but before the House’s failure. “Only in Illinois could we criminalize making one’s community more competitive or giving workers more freedom.”
    However, Bogucki argued that unions represented a bulwark against labor abuse and that right-to-work laws would not just have profound implications for unionized work of all kinds, but non-unionized jobs as well.
    “People have to understand what you’re talking about when they’re discussing collective bargaining,” he said. “That’s not just us — that’s your schoolteachers, your state workers and every union worker out there. If you’re going to take away our ability to collectively bargain, now they’re saying that ‘We get the right to employ you for less.’ It’s not having a living wage, it’s having a welfare wage.
    “Our goal as a local is to bring everybody up. Not just our members, but everybody around us.”
    Bogucki argued that while right-to-work could potentially entice employers to set up shop in such states, it was the workers who were ultimately undermined.
    “If you get fired, you want to be able to have ‘just cause,’ where somebody’s looking out for you on your behalf; you don’t have that in right-to-work states,” he said. “You want to have the right to speak out without getting fired. If you’re a female, you want to be able to have a baby and not lose your job. Without protections, we’re seeing wages stagnant and the rich getting richer.”