By: Mark Glennon*
We told you early this year that right-to-work would likely come to Illinois but it would have nothing to do with what Governor Rauner or the General Assembly do in Springfield, and it would come locally. That’s what happened last night in Lincolnshire, where the village board, by a five to one vote, made the town a right to work zone. This was not like other votes taken earlier this year by other towns, which were nonbinding expressions of policy. Lincolnshire actually enacted right-to-work, and it potentially sets a huge precedent.
You may recall that, in March, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an opinion saying Illinois municipalities can’t do this. Unions and their supporters pounded their chests. “Madigan shoots down local right-to-work zones,” cheered Rich Miller, for example, calling it a “repudiation” of Rauner. “The Attorney General’s opinions on right to work zones and prevailing wage are confirmation of what we suspected from the outset,” said AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan.
Au contraire. The primary legal issue is a Federal one so Lisa’s opinion means squat, and plenty of major legal authorities say Lisa was wrong. They include Richard Epstein, a prominent legal scholar, who wrote in detail about why Madigan was wrong.
What Lisa’s opinion does correctly say — and she will probably be held to this — is that Federal law preempts state law on the matter. That’s important because it means litigation will be in Federal courts, i.e., real courts and not Illinois state courts run by political hacks.
The legal issues are complex and the outcome is not certain. Labor and Lisa Madigan will challenge Lincolnshire’s action. But the bottom line is that the village is in excellent shape legally and their case will be heard in Federal courts. The Liberty Justice Center reportedly will represent the village pro bono.
Most importantly, expect plenty more municipalities to follow Lincolnshire’s lead.
*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoint. Opinions expressed are his own.