During the veto session, a bill which would imprison local officials who choose to enact local right to work zones barely failed. Rep. Moylan has filed an amendment in a separate bill to remove the criminal penalties, but there’s still a chance that local leaders could be jailed just because they disagree on economic policy. Why is the General Assembly insistent on prohibiting local officials in Illinois to bring economic prosperity to their communities and have the ability to compete with neighboring states? Staff attorney and labor expert for the Illinois Policy Institute, Mailee Smith joins Dan and Kristen to discuss.
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Dan: Good morning. Dan, and in for Amy this morning, Kristen McQueary of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, and uh Kristen, uh this is shaping up to be quite an interesting state and local election cycle uh with uh the new front on the war against cultures of sexual harassment and assault being state houses including ours in Springfield. A Miami Harold piece over the weekend allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and infidelity among the state’s legislators flew like shrapnel from a bomb blast in recent weeks uh and uh talking just about the internal politics there uh related to bad behavior perhaps in some instances maybe even criminal behavior when you talk about sexual assault and of course we had a woman come forward last week, Denise Rotheimer, and accuse incumbent state senator Ira Silverstein of sexual harassment. We’ve had other anonymous claims of sexual harassment and uh we find out that uh actually there were more than two dozen complaints members of the general assembly, maybe not all that were for sexual harassment related because we don’t know because there was no legislative inspector general for years so those complaints just sat there unacted upon and uh this is a failure of the leadership of both parties of the House and Senate starting with the speaker, Mike Madigan to uh fill this vacancy which all of the sudden got filled over the weekend Kristen: Right. D: Evanston lawyer Julie Porter named to the uh long standing vacancy to oversee state legislator ethics as if that’s not an oxymoron. K: Right, so they had someone who was suppos- like an aid who was collecting all of the complaints and uh making pretty decent coin for an obviously a very part time position because there was no inspector general so it was just kind of a legislative assistant and not even bothering to explore or look at them, so how heroic are our legislative leaders now that this has become a hot news story and they all look terrible? Now they’re rushing to fill this position, setting up task forces, passing new laws, um having their members sign statements, reminder policies up it’s it’s a little late. D: Yeah. K: It’s a little late for that. D: To for me, this smacks of a nonaggression pact between the two parties. “You’ve got bad actors in your caucus, I’ve got bad actors in mine, uh let’s just uh take the kind of mutually assured destruction pact. You don’t uh rat on me, and I won’t rat on you and we won’t appoint a legislative inspector general to investigate all this stuff, we’ll just enable it in our caucus by trying- by sweeping it under the rug and uh you know just get on about our business because of course character and uh personal conduct doesn’t matter when it comes to public policy making at least so I’ve been told by so many. K: Well Ira Silverstein was in democratic leadership in the Senate and they were made aware of of some of her complaints quite a while ago and didn’t remove him from leadership until, of course, it became an embarrassing headline and then I think Senator Terry Link also had a role in this where he knew that these complaints were piling up, but he took no responsibility to further- to open them, to read them, to explore them by filling this inspector general post, so they did know these complaints were piling up, they just didn’t bother to explore. D: And I’ve got to tell you, I think now um with a March election 100 days away and then obviously November 2018 election, but uh because they gamed the system to try and cover themselves uh uh uh I I mean I-you’ve got to give Julie Porter time to do her job and review all these complaints and so forth. I want the cl- I want the complaints released with the uh accusers’ names redacted unless the accuser wants to come public. The accusers’ names redact, but they they did this to themselves. This is not violative of their due process rights for those who would jump to that uh defense. It’s not violative. Those complaints should be made public right now because oh we say “well give her time in this process” no-no, no because you’ve got a March primary where you have an opportunity perhaps to hold some of these people accountable. K: That’s true as long as the victims are protected- D: Yes! K: Because many of them, they don’t- they’ don’t want their accus- they don’t want their stories released in a way that would identify them, so if you can protect them, not identify them, and redact enough that we still know the bad behavior and the bad actors, that’s that would be- that would make sense. D: Yeah, that’s what I wanna see K: Is Ira Silverstein up? Is his seat up? I’m looking it up right now to see. D: Ummm I don’t remember- K: Okay. D: I mean it’s not competitive unless somebody wants to get it late and you you know in -into a primary late. Because of course in that area, Skokie, Lincolnwood- K: Well- D: The near north, I mean- K: I’m sure there are better - I mean I-I would welcome a primary for someone D: Well yeah- K: Who’s accused of this thing- D: Well I know, but you don’t wanna- I-I mean the important thing is that we protect the status quo. See? That’s the whole thing, that’s the sexual harassment sensitivity training or whatever it is they’re trying to move- K: Right. D: The idea is change on the outside to protect continuity on the inside. D-Do you understand how this works I mean you do, I’m speaking rhetorically. That’s how this works in Illinois, change on the outside to buffalo enough of the general population one more cycle to protect continuity on the inside and I mean why why wouldn’t they? K: He is up, by the way. D: Why wouldn’t they? We keep fall- we keep falling for, so I don’t know, Ira Silverstein would welcome a primary challenger. I doubt he’ll get one. Maybe his wife? K: She could! She’s a- she’s a Chicago Alderman, right? D: Yeah. Maybe his wife will primary, wouldn’t that be fun? K: Yeah, it would be. D; Kramer vs. Kramer. Uhh and then also this week on on the umm the policy fund with respect to economic policy, uhhh there was this effort that you wrote about last week and uh the veto session that failed, barely, to um uh prohibit these local right to work zones that were passed in communities like Lincolnshire up in Lake County and also to uh imprison local officials who would vote such a- for such an ordinance. K: I-I’m just shaking my head. I ca- I mean this is just so many bridges too far. I understand the opposition to right to work, I still think even even what we’ve talked about in the state are locally approved zones that local officials should have the right to institute as an economic development tool, a right to work zone. We heard from Toyota and-and uh uh from I bev- I believe Cranes reported pretty substantially that part of the reason we didn’t get the Toyota plant was because we’re not a right to work state! But lawmakers are just going to keep ignoring the the truth and the data and pa- try to pass a bill that not only prohibits right to work zones, but would make it a criminal penalty in order to do so. That’s an insanity. D: That failed and there’s a possibility that uh Marty Moyland who’s the uh Madigan roll call vote representing Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Elk Grove Village who will sponsor that legislation will rerun it sans the criminal penalties and pass it to prohibit without the criminal penalties because basically the only reason he didn’t pass it last week over runner’s veto was you just had too many democrats that were absent K: That’s true, I mean I think he just needs one vote, right? And there were concerns raised about the the criminal penalty portion umm so if you I-I- if he brings it up again this week during veto session Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday that we would have a ban on right to work in Illinois. D: And you’re gonna have some republicans vote for this, some republicans voted for the one with criminal penalties. You know why? Because they’re in open revolt against the governor and it’s every man and woman for themselves. K: Still a bad vote, terrible vote. D: It is a bad vote. K: But I know I-I yeah D: But hh uh for more on this topic, we’re pleased to be joined now by Mailee Smith who is staff attorney and labor expert for the Illinois Policy Institute with which I am affiliated. Miley, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it. Mailee Smith: Hi, thanks for having me this morning. D: So uh uh what is is our read on what is likely to happen in Springfield this week with uh a rerun of the right to work zone prohibition on on the mark? M: That’s exactly what we’re expecting to happen. Um and that’s correct, it missed the veto override but only one vote and there were democrats that were not there that day, so we do expect it to be run again. Now one thing that I would add is that the house sponsor, Representative Moyland has filed an amendment in a trailer bill that would uh take away that criminal penalty. The problem with that is that uh that’s a separate bill. There’s no guarantee that it would be passed, so SB1905, the right to work prohibition could pass this week with that criminal penalty. The trailer bill may not pass, and what we would have is a local right to work prohibition that is going to jail local leaders if they- basically if they disagree with economic policy. K: I mean I just find that to be um really remarkable. Ha-has this been implemented anywhere in the country that you’re aw- that you know of? M: I am not aware that this has been implemented anywhere, this type of criminal penalty. Um in fact, I-I’ve looked at hundreds of hundreds of bills in my legal career, probably thousands, and I’ve never seen a criminal penalty uh just because the lawmakers disagree with an economic policy or a social policy. Um this is definitely a a a unique provision, an um egregious provision and it’s definitely you know undemocratic. D: I think it’s uh modeled after the policy in Havana uh so uh we you know decided with our new partner in peace there, our new trading partner- K: Sure. D: The Castro regime, we decided to take some some of their lead K: Yeah D: When it comes to uh uh labor policy. Um so ju ju on the right to work zones M-M-Mailee, the the basis for those because one of the arguments against them is much like the arguments against um uh different- back in the day- different gun laws by local jurisdiction. Why not either do something uniform at the state level or or do nothing at all? The patchwork of laws around the state make the argument M: Right. Well here’s the thing, there are 27 states with right to work laws, including nearly all of our neighbors, and we know that when businesses are seeking to relocate or expand, they look to see if a state is right to work. You referenced Rockford. We see this first, we saw this first hand last month. Rockford was rejected for the new Toyota/Mazda plant. It was a 4,000 jobs facility and one of the determining factors as reported by Cranes was that Illinois is not a right to work state. The remaining three contenders? They’re right to work states. And so we- having no statewide right to work, we don’t have a way to compete with other locations and what local rights do what local right to work would do is give local leaders the ability to compete. And you know what? If it’s a hodge podge sort of map where some some locations have it and some don’t, I guess what that means is that there are going to be some hodge podge locations of economic prosperity in Illinois and then maybe the rest of the state will follow. K: I mean it’s not different than you know we have TIF districts we have all different when you describe a hodge podge why it-it just it boggles my mind why we keep talking crime in the city of Chicago, lack of economic development, lack of opportunity. If you have- you have areas on the south and west sides of the city of Chicago that haven’t seen economic development- meaningful economic development in generations and yet you still have members of the city council completely bought and paid for by organized labor who would never even consider helping their communities with a right to work zone that would be locally approved. I mean it’s just it-it boggles my mind. I’m also staring at M-Marty Moyland’s uh campaign fund disclosure form at the moment. This is just one- ask me the employee union in the state, just this one labor union has contributed 20- almost $25,000 to him over the years including a $10,000 contribution last year. So who- D: More on the way! K: Well- of course but you don’t have to question whose- who he is representing here. M: That’s right, and that is why the unions in Illinois are such a powerful source and a source to be reckoned with because they are funding- it’s-it’s a vicious circle- where they are uh funding um lawmakers, lawmakers owe them a favor, you never see the economic ball pushed to a place where it’s going to benefit the taxpayers in Illinois. K: I read- I-I had I think I tweeted this out too and so go-go to my Twitter, StateHouseChick to find it because I-I believe there was an article recently that Indiana is growing union jobs faster than Illinois- D: Yes. K: As a right to work state- D: Yeah, true. K: So M: That’s right K: Ju-just all of this resistance is just uh- it doesn’t make any sense. M: And and not just union jobs, they’re growing manufacturing jobs, so during the recession we lost more than 96,000 manufacturing jobs. Um we’ve lost more since then, but our neighboring states with right to work has been gaining jobs. You referenced Indiana. Indiana has gained over 81,000 manufacturing jobs in that same time period that we lost so many. D: She is Mailee Smith, staff attorney and labor expert for the Illinois Policy Institute. Mailee thanks for joining us, appreciate it. M: Thanks for having me!