County OKs resolution related to right to work

Four days after the Fayette County Board passed a non-binding resolution tied to the right to work issue, the Vandalia City Council tabled a similar resolution.
With a crowd that included about 50 local union members, the council voted 7-1 to table a resolution “in support of the ‘Turnaround Agenda’ for local government empowerment and reform.”
Aldermen agreed to postpone action on the resolution because city officials had received information about Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed “Turnaround Agenda” only shortly before the meeting.
Mayor Rick Gottman said that he was in contact with the governor’s office late Monday afternoon and was provided with a 38-page document on Rauner’s proposal.
“We’ve never seen it until tonight,” Alderman B. John Clark said.
Alderman Mike Hobler said that they should “at least have time to look it over.”
The lone dissenting vote on tabling the issue came from Alderman Dorothy Crawford, who said that the council had been asked to “vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on bullet points (that they had received earlier), and I think we should do it.”
As the issue was tabled Gottman informed those in the audience that it will be up to the council to decide whether it will be brought up for a vote at a later date.
The city’s action follows a county board meeting on Thursday that included a lengthy, and sometimes heated, discussion on a similar resolution.
Board member Wade Wilhour presented the resolution for a vote, saying, “In my mind, it is a personal freedom” on whether a person has to join a union.
“They shouldn't have to pay (union dues) unless they agree to that,” Wilhour said.
“We are telling Springfield and others, let us as a county choose how we operate,” he said.
As Wilhour clarified that the board was acting on a non-binding resolution, and not an ordinance, board member Glen “Whitey” Daniels asked, “Why have it then?”
“Individuals should have a choice,” Wilhour said.
Board Chairman Steve Knebel open discussion up to people in the audience, and Eddie Caumaint, regional director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, voiced strong opposition to the resolution.
Caumaint, who was accompanied by about 20 Vandalia Correctional Center employees, said that the union sees this resolution as a way for Rauner to “use the bully pulpit” to get his way on right to work legislation.
Addressing board members, Caumaint said that it’s “extremely important to get the full facts and certain (people’s) voices are heard.”
Randy Pollard, downstate director for Rauner, said that AFSCME’s contract is “with the state, not with the county; this has nothing to do with the prison.”
Knebel told Caumaint that as a former union member, he understands that unions “have a purpose.
“But, there are times that they overstep their boundaries,” Knebel said, explaining that unions have been wanting the county to use funds set aside for capital improvements to pay salaries. If it does, Knebel said, “We have to pay it back (to that fund).”
Wilhour said his research has shown that in right-to-work states, union memberships are increasing, while they are decreasing in non-right-to-work states.
“Is right to work a solution for the state of Illinois? No,” Wilhour said. It needs to address workers’ compensation and other issues, he said.
“(This) comes back to the simple thing of individual freedom,” Wilhour said.
Daniels said, “I cannot see any reason for it.”
Caumaint said it’s the unions’ stance that county boards are “being pushed” to approve resolutions like this so Rauner can get his agenda through.
When Wilhour said, “It wasn’t my attempt to be political,” Daniels responded with, “It’s getting to be that way.”
When it came time for a vote, Knebel said that since it’s a resolution, not an ordinance, a roll call vote was not required.
However, after the voice vote was taken, he noted that it was the four Democratic board members – Daniels, Jean Finley, Joe Kelly and John Daniels Jr. – who voted against the resolution. That left the Republican members voting for it – Knebel, Jeff Beckman, Wilhour, John Blythe, Dean Bernhardt, Troy Pattillo, Jeff Beckman, Glenn Gurtner and Keith Cole. Darrell Schaal was not present for the meeting due to a death in the family.

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