In response to Bruce Rauner’s Dec. 22 column, “Let counties decide on right-to-work laws,” allowing corporations to bid on whose constituents would work for lower wages and benefits would hurt Illinois’ working families and reward out-of-state corporations.
All across Illinois, working women and men devote their time by volunteering and investing in their community. By day they heal our sick, teach our kids, improve the infrastructure and make our communities safe. After work, they volunteer in churches, schools, parks and other places to make our communities better places to live.
Rauner’s proposal to allow communities and counties to play a dangerous game of selling out to the lowest bidder would decimate local economies, making responsible job creation even more difficult. A 2011 study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute found that workers in states with right-to-work laws earned, on average, $1,500 less annually than workers in closed-shop states.
The wage discrepancy is even higher for women and minorities. The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions is also lower in right-to-work states. It is not a coincidence that eight of the top 10 poorest states are so called right-to-work.
While out-of-state corporations and venture capitalists would benefit by paying significantly lower wages and virtually no benefits, the very fabric keeping our communities together today would unravel. The “race to the bottom” would hasten the decline and harm working families who are investing their time and efforts to make their communities better places to live. Responsible job creation for all throughout Illinois is the key to rebuilding our economy, not selling out working families.
A much better approach to rebuild our communities is for elected leaders to pass laws that complement this human investment. It is time to stop corporations from being rewarded through our tax policies that encourage shipping our jobs to China and other foreign shores. We must demand responsible job creation.
Michael T. Carrigan
President, Illinois AFL-CIO