Rauner vetoes workers’ rights bill

Capitol News

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Those fighting for workers’ rights just took a dagger to the heart.

Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill protecting employees at small businesses from discrimination. He says the rule change would hurt business owners and stump economic growth.

Right now, people who work at a business with 15 or fewer employees can’t get as much justice if they feel they’ve been discriminated against.

In fact, the only way to file a complaint with the state is one of three grounds: disability, sexual harassment or pregnancy. The bill would have expanded that list.

The new plan would have allowed workers to take action if they felt discriminated on the basis of gender, religion, race and even age.

Right now, that privilege is only given to workers at larger companies. Rauner says, that’s for a reason.

The 15-employee threshold is the federal standard. One labor union leader says he’s beyond disappointed with the governor’s decision. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce opposed the legislation.

In his veto message, Rauner says he believes workers already have the power to fight back and feels the added rule would prevent attracting business to the state.

The bill’s sponsor, Will Guzzardi (D – Chicago), says he’s undoubtedly upset and almost shocked Rauner vetoed the plan, but says he hasn’t given up. In November, lawmakers have the chance to override vetoes.

Guzzardi says he’ll definitely be using his time to reach out to House members to try to convince them to vote in support of the bill. He’ll need at least seven lawmakers to change their minds in order to override the governor.

Other Midwest states went ahead and expanded their workers’ rights laws. Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota allow workers at businesses with one or more employees to file a discrimination complaint. Missouri and Indiana have a threshold of 6; in Kentucky it’s 8; Illinois remains 15.

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