Illinois’ newly elected Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner attacked labor unions during a speech Tuesday, saying they are responsible for many problems that plague his state.
Throughout his speech, Rauner took aim at “government union bosses,” calling them corrupt for contributing to Democratic candidates in return for favorable deals.
“The taxpayer’s on the outside,” Rauner said during his speech in Decatur, according to Northern Public Radio.
“It’s a conflict of interest. It’s a closed loop. This is what’s going on,” Rauner continued. “It’s driving up our bureaucracy and jobs are leaving.”
“The unions that contract with the state: I think it’s the No. 1 conflict of interest in our state today,” Rauner declared.
Rauner pointed towards Prevailing Wage Laws and Project Labor Agreements as some of the few examples of how labor unions drive up costs through unfair laws.
According to The Illinois Policy Institute, the state is struggling in jobs and education, two areas vital to economic growth and stability.
“Illinois’ low standing for total job growth is unusual given that Illinois has the largest population in the Midwest and the fifth largest nationally,” the Institute noted in a report for 2014. “It takes a particularly toxic combination of bad policy and corrupt dealings to hinder such a large and talented workforce from keeping up with the likes of Kentucky and Connecticut.”
“Illinois tracks last of all states for private-sector job creation in 2014, one of only four states to be negative for jobs on the year,” the report added.
The governor also addressed right-to-work legislation. Though he is hesitant to support it as a state law, Rauner does say local leaders should decide for themselves if they want such legislation. Under a right-to-work law, workers cannot be forced into a union as a condition of employment.
“I’m not advocating Illinois becoming a right-to-work state, but I do advocate local governments being allowed to decide whether they’re right-to-work zones,” Rauner said according to The Associated Press.
Some union leaders are already attacking Rauner for deceiving voters during the election last year: While running for governor, Rauner said he was not anti-union.
“It’s taken him less than two weeks to show his true colors,” Sean Stott of the Laborer’s International Union told Northern Public Radio.
Scott says the governor’s plans will drive down wages and lead to a loss of jobs, and not just for union members.
Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan, called the governor’s speech, “failed right-wing economic policy.”
“The Bruce Rauner that managed to mask his true feelings about working families for most of last year showed his true agenda today,” Carrigan told Insurance News Net in a statement. “Much like his past proposal to cut the minimum wage, he is now going after workers on all fronts by supporting right to work, attacking unemployment insurance and workers compensation, as well as prevailing wage and project labor agreements that benefit both workers and the taxpayers.”