UIC UF Executive Board Statement on Rauner’s Executive Order

Selections from analysis by our sister union, UIC United Faculty. Governor Rauner’s Executive Order issued yesterday is attached.

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Dear members of UIC United Faculty,

You may have heard that Governor Rauner signed his latest Executive Order earlier this afternoon about fair share for unionized State of Illinois employees. This action does not apply to university employees, but only to public employees at a state agencies directly under the jurisdiction of the Governor, and who are represented by a collective bargaining agreement. The executive order is attached.

Nevertheless, this is a huge (and blatantly illegal) step to alter fundamental laws and legal foundations of collective bargaining in this state for public unions without any due process. It remains to be seen if Governor Rauner will force universities to follow suit, but this executive order does not require it.

It is yet another reminder why we need to organize and increase our membership rate so we cannot be hurt if the university tries to do this to us. The Governor is planning on gutting public services – including higher education – and the labor movement is his strongest foe. So he is taking this peremptory step in an attempt to weaken us so we cannot effectively fight him.

Just as we did a year ago, we have to stand together and uphold not only our rights as workers and union members but as citizens of Illinois committed to public service and public higher education.

We are also seeking guidance from legal counsel on this matter and other executive orders issued by Rauner per the unanimous support of our Representative Assembly on February 5th.

In the meantime, here are some specific questions and answers we can offer right now.

In solidarity,
UIC UF Executive Board

Q: What Happened?
A: Today, Governor Rauner issued an Executive Order allowing state workers to stop paying fair share fees. Rauner is directing the fair share fees into an escrow account until this issue can be resolved by the legislature or the courts.

Q: What are fair share fees?
A: Unions have a legal obligation to fully represent all bargaining unit employees-members and non-members alike. Non-members pay a fair share fee that does not exceed regular union dues. This fee covers the cost of bargaining, implementing, and enforcing the contract. Union dues and fair share fees go NOT to political activities. Political contributions are voluntary.

Q: Does Rauner’s executive order regarding fair share apply to UIC Faculty?
A: No- the order only applies to employees of state agencies, such as child protection workers, caregivers for veterans and the disabled, and correctional officers organized under the Illinois Labor Relations Act (ILRA). Employees of universities and school districts are organized under the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act (IELRA). At this point, Rauner has not issued an order that affects university and school employees, and cannot likely do so because he does not exercise the same degree of control over these entities as he does over state employees who work for state agencies.

Q: Is this legal?
A: No. Despite Rauner’s support from a well-known Republican lawyer Dan Webb, the order violates the law in several ways.
1) The Governor’s contract with unions that represent state employees such AFSCME, the IFT, and SEIU have enforceable provisions in their contracts that say that fair share fees shall be deducted during the term of the contracts. Because the contracts are still in effect, they are being violated by the Governor’s action today.
2) The executive order is outside the scope of the Governor’s power granted by the constitution, which says “The Governor, by Executive Order, may reassign functions among or reorganize executive agencies which are directly responsible to him. If such a reassignment or reorganization would contravene a statute, the Executive Order shall be delivered to the General Assembly.” This is the only mention of the executive order power of the governor in the Illinois Constitution. Unilaterally removing a contract provision that the law (Illinois Labor Relations Act) provides for is not within an Illinois Governors power…