Lincolnshire Refused Opinion from Attorney before Adopting Controversial Anti-Un

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

Lincolnshire Refused Opinion from Attorney before Adopting Controversial Anti-Un


Byline: Russell Lissau rlissau@dailyherald.com

Lincolnshire refused opinion from attorney before adopting controversial anti-union plan

Lincolnshire officials approved a controversial right-to-work ordinance that's been called illegal by Attorney General Lisa Madigan without first getting an opinion from their own attorney, village emails indicate.

When Village Manager Brad Burke specifically asked Mayor Elizabeth Brandt and the trustees in late November if they wanted an opinion on the proposal from attorney Adam Simon, nearly everyone declined. The strongest response came from Brandt, who had brought the plan to the board.

"I had already expressed that I did not want an opinion from Adam ... and do not want to over react to a threat of litigation," Brandt wrote in a Nov. 30 email to Burke.

Brandt also said she thought Madigan's opinion on the right-to-work issue "was weak."

"I don't think the village board should be intimidated by a threat of litigation," Brandt said. "We can be sued at any time for almost anything."

The proposal at the heart of the debate allows employees at private-sector companies in Lincolnshire to refuse to have union dues or fees automatically deducted from their paychecks. It was publicly unveiled in late November and approved by the village board Monday night, despite overwhelming opposition from the audience at the evening's board meeting and lingering questions about its legality.

The 5-1 vote made Lincolnshire the first town in the Chicago area to create a right-to-work zone. Trustee Mara Grajanic was the only dissenter.

The proposal was a major tenet of Gov. Bruce Rauner's controversial Turnaround Agenda for Illinois, which many people have blasted as being anti-union and illegal. He called them "employee empowerment zones" and said they'd give people more local control of their lives.

In a formal opinion issued in March, Madigan said federal labor law allows such policies to be enacted only on a statewide basis.

Burke asked Lincolnshire's trustees and mayor if they wanted an opinion from Simon on the legality of the proposal after a Nov. 28 Daily Herald story about the proposal.

"Staff requests Village Board feedback to determine if there is consensus to direct Attorney Simon to provide an opinion/analysis on the Village's authority to pass such an ordinance," Burke wrote in a Nov. 30 email. "Please email me and let me know whether or not you would like an opinion/analysis prepared by (the attorney). …

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