Illinois Village’s Right-to-Work Ordinance Challenged in Federal Court

Author: Jacob D. Caudill
December 12, 2016

Last year, the Village of Lincolnshire passed ordinance 15-3389-116, An Ordinance on Economic Development and Worker Empowerment by Regulation of Involuntary Payroll Deductions for Private Sector Workers in the Village of Lincolnshire. The ordinance operates in the same manner as “Right-to-Work” laws passed in various states throughout the nation.

At their core, “Right-to-Work” laws are controversial because they prohibit the compulsory payment of dues to unions as a condition of employment. Currently, over half of the states in the nation have “Right-to-Work” laws. However, Illinois is not among those 26 states with “Right-to-Work” laws.

In an apparent effort to bypass Illinois’s refusal to become a “Right-to-Work” State, the Village of Lincolnshire looked to its Home-Rule powers. Lincolnshire’s ordinance contains, in part, the following provision:

Section 4: Guarantee of Employee Rights

No person covered by the NLRA shall be required as a condition of employment or continuation of employment with a private-sector employer:

  • to resign or refrain from voluntary membership in, voluntary affiliation with, or voluntary financial support of a labor organization;
  • to become or remain a member of a labor organization;
  • to pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind or amount to a labor organization;
  • to pay to any charity or other third party, in lieu of such payments, any amount equivalent to or a pro-rata portion of dues, fees, assessments, or other charges regularly required of members of a labor organization; or
  • to be recommended, approved, referred, or cleared for employment by or through a labor organization.

Shortly after the enactment of this ordinance, four separate labor organizations brought suit against the Village in Federal Court. In particular, the plaintiffs allege that the Lincolnshire ordinance is in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.

Last month, the Sixth Circuit Federal Appellate Court upheld “Right-to-Work” ordinances. While the Sixth Court’s opinion is not binding on the Federal Court deciding the Lincolnshire case, it will likely serve as a strong precedent.

We will continue to provide timely and informative updates as this case moves through the judicial process.

Author: Jacob D. Caudill