Page 18 - March 2021
P. 18

Retaliation against union advocates on the rise
With the draconian changes made in Illinois during the most recent lame duck session, which Governor Pritzker signed into law on Feb. 22, I thought it might be a good idea to focus on one of the few remaining nuggets of protection af- forded public sector employees in this state.
As mentioned in past articles, the Illi- nois Public Labor Relations Act, passed in 1984 and still in effect, grants public
sector employees and employers the right to bargain collectively. The Local Panel of the Illinois Labor Re- lations Board is the state agency that administers the
act, governing the relationship between unions, members and public employers, with the authority over collective bar- gaining matters between unions and units of local govern- ment that have a population over 2 million people (including Lodge 7 and the City of Chicago).
The act, in its most basic form, is a state labor law guar- anteeing that employees in the public sector, such as Police Officers, have the right to organize and to bargain collectively with their employer. To date, this act remains one of the most union-friendly public sector laws in the country.
Since the federal government does not grant public em- ployees work-related protections and rights directly, it falls to state governments to enact such laws. In addition to Illi-
nois, states including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont have passed similar laws, making them among the states friendliest for workers. Gener- ally, states along the West Coast and in the Northeast tend to
have laws that favor employees.
Not surprisingly, other states have been known to
pass laws that undermine union power. Some states that provide fewer protections to workers include Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming. Typically, states
in the Southeast tend to have laws that favor employ- ers.
In Illinois, the act, in part, protects the rights of public em- ployees to organize and join a union, which is the corner- stone of all employees’ rights. Significantly, it allows employ- ees to act “in concert,” or together with one another and with a union, to address contract and other workplace issues.
The act, among other things, prohibits an employer from committing an unfair labor practice, which occurs when the employer engages in such acts as “interfering with, restrain- ing or coercing employees in the exercise of their rights grant- ed in the Act” or “discriminating against employees in order to encourage or discourage membership in or support for a labor organization” or “refusing to bargain in good faith with the exclusive bargaining representative.”

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