J.B. Pritzker, Darren Bailey fight turns to union rights – Crain’s Chicago Business

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Pritzker’s comments came in an appearance before the Chicago Laborers District Council at which he accepted the endorsement of the group and its leaders.

“We’ve made Illinois the most pro-labor state in the country,” Pritzker told the cheering group, comparing his actions to those of his “anti-labor, union-busting” predecessor, Rauner.

“Just like Bruce Rauner, Darren Bailey believes the only way to move the state forward is to reduce workers’ wages,” Pritzker continued. “We have to fight against Bruce Rauner’s ’Mini-Me,’ Darren Bailey, and his anti-working people agenda.”

Pritzker particularly emphasized his support for project labor agreements, or PLAs, on state construction jobs, which require the state and any local governments that receive state aid to pay the prevailing union wage and sometimes follow other provisions of a union contract.

Within an hour of becoming governor, Pritzker said he issued an order mandating the use of PLAs. Now, Illinois has 800 of them, “more PLAs than the other 49 states combined.”

PLAs indeed raise wages but also raise costs on taxpayers who end up footing the bill, responded Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch. PLAs also can require workers to pay dues that end up going for political causes they may not support and drive up pension costs, Maisch said. “PLAs are not good for taxpayers.”

Other pushback came from Bailey.

“The average Illinois family pays more than $2,000 in taxes and fees today than when Pritzker took office,” he said in a statement that did not break down that figure, but referenced in part gasoline and other hikes passed as part of the governor’s $45 billion Rebuild Illinois infrastructure program.

“Pritzker abandoned working families across the state when he shut down small businesses while letting his corporate buddies stay open,” Bailey added, referring to COVID-related shutdowns. “Illinoisans are forced to choose between gas and groceries because J.B. Pritzker and his pal Joe Biden are destroying upward mobility for families. Instead of listing endorsements from fat-cat union leaders, he should talk with the everyday worker he’s abandoned.”

Bailey notably did not attack PLAs. They mostly cover workers in the building trades unions, many of whom traditionally vote Republican.

Pritzker also used his speech to push for approval of a proposed constitutional amendment that will be on the November ballot. Pritzker said it’s designed to guarantee workers the right to unionize and engage in collective bargaining, but business groups say the main impact will be to allow union-only shops here, putting Illinois at a competitive disadvantage to other industrial Midwestern states.

Today’s exchange over union rights follows weeks in which the campaign for governor has focused on rising crime and the appropriate response thereto.

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September 19, 2022 at 10:52PM

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