Municipal Government, National

Federal Judge Voids Local ‘Right to Work’ Law

January 15, 2017 
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Chicago, IL – Federal law precludes local governments from banning the union shop, a judge in Illinois ruled Jan. 7.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly voided a “right to work” law enacted by the Chicago suburb of Lincolnshire in 2015, ruling that the National Labor Relations Act “does not permit local subdivisions to regulate union security agreements,” that it gives only states and territories that authority.

The judge said a challenge to the law by four unions—International Union of Operating Engineers Locals 150 and 399, the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, and the Laborers District Council of Chicago and Vicinity—was valid on the merits and did not need a full trial. Kennelly also held that Lincolnshire has no authority under federal law to regulate union hiring halls or “dues checkoff” agreements. “We have long argued that local governments simply are not empowered to pass these laws, and we are pleased with Judge Kennelly’s decision,” Local 150 President-Business Manager James M. Sweeney said in a statement, calling the law “a political attack” against “workers who depend on decent wages and benefits.” Read more

January 14, 2017

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