A bill that would make Illinois more worker-friendly is one step closer to becoming law. The legislation just passed the House with overwhelming support and has already been passed by the State Senate and now just requires the new governor’s signature to be put in place.
Unions have long been the path to the middle class for American workers, but over the last 40 years there has been a steady decline in union membership nationwide. Workers who are part of a Union are better paid, have lower healthcare costs, and provide the skilled labor that modern economies need to thrive. Only 14.7% of Illinois workers are part of a union, and unfortunately, some communities are trying to limit the freedom of their citizens by making it more difficult for Unions to properly function.
This bill would change all of that. Instead of individual communities limiting their citizens’ ability to join a Union, the legislation would put the power to unionize back in the hands of the workers themselves. It states that no municipality could discriminate against union activity by passing anti-worker laws. A myriad of laws going back to the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act empower states, not municipalities, to set their labor practices.
“In doing so, Congress decided to avoid the confusion that having 7,000 units of local government in Illinois with thousands of different laws would create,” Rep. Lance Yednock said in arguing for the bill.
In an era of unlimited corporate power, where more and more economic gains are going to fewer and fewer people, the right for individuals to organize to negotiate for a fairer deal is vital to the health of all communities. Hourly wages have been flat for the better part of forty years while the total economy has more than doubled. Productivity is up by leaps and bounds, yet wages stay the same. Organized labor is one of the very few levers that an individual can pull to try to gain back some control over their future.
With this bill, lawmakers in Illinois have decided that workers deserve a chance to be paid a fair wage.