Bruce Rauner’s recent commentary [“Illinois next stop for labor reform,” Dec. 21] adds little to the debate about how labor law reform could attract new businesses and jobs to Illinois.
Research shows that there is no connection between so-called right-to-work laws and business location decisions. In fact, business location decisions tend to focus on transportation needs and an educated and trained work force. Indiana is quickly learning what Oklahoma — the last state to pass such a law in 2001 — found: states are more likely to lose jobs because the real effect of right to work is to depress wages and weaken insurance and retirement benefits.
What such research does show is that businesses locate where they have access to the most skilled workers, and can rely on modern transportation, utility and energy infrastructure. Education plays a huge role, but what schools can’t provide in training is picked up by the apprenticeship and training programs administered jointly by management and labor. Free collective bargaining between employers and unions is the national labor policy because labor and management are often in the best position to come up with real solutions to real problems.
Today, for example, the Indiana, Illinois and Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting — a labor-management group dedicated to promoting the construction industry in those states — is working to develop a collectively bargained alternative to the Illinois workers’ compensation system.
Rather than punishing union workers by forcing them to shoulder the cost of representing free-riders with backward looking right-to-work laws, Illinois lawmakers should encourage such private-sector innovation, and focus on real reform.
Indiana, Illinois and Iowa Foundation For Fair Contracting