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O'Dekirk rejects governor's anti-union empowerment 'zones'

Karen Sorensen | 4/22/2015, 8:23 a.m.
There are other ways to attract new business to the state that don't require residents to create "right-to-work" pockets in ...
Joliet Mayor-elect Bob O'Dekirk Photo by Rex Robinson

Joliet Mayor-Elect Bob O'Dekirk said Tuesday he opposes the governor's proposal to creation of right-to-work "empowerment zones" in order to entice new businesses to Illinois.

Eliminating workers' rights to collectively bargain by asking voters to vote on the issue through local voter referendums is "not an option," O'Dekirk said in a statement he released on the issue.

Rauner has been traveling around the state to promote his "Turnaround Agenda," including a stop in Joliet on March 20.

The concept is to let local areas decide themselves if they want to become a right-to-work zone via referendum. Those that do will be marketed to firms looking to relocated or start businesses in Illinois.

"While the governor says that he respects the rights of labor to organize and fight for their wages and benefits, the creation of right-to-work zones would effectively create a disadvantage for union employers to create and expand operations in municipalities that respect the right to organize,” O’Dekirk.

“Union training, union standards and union safety rules protect workers, employers and the general public from workplace accidents and disasters. A union worker may cost more, but you get more, and so does the local economy. Those union wages support every business in the city of Joliet while the additional corporate profits earned in non-union companies may never find their way back into our local economy.”

O'Dekirk said he welcomes the chance to work with the state using other means available to lure new business to Illinois, stressing that unions do not have to be sacrificed in order to improve the economy.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said Will County Center for Economic Development President John Greuling endorsed the governor's plan. While he introduced the governor and spoke about the plan, he did not say he supported it and the CED has not taken any position on the proposal.