CITY HALL — Gov. Bruce Rauner addressed the City Council Wednesday, but not before aldermen unanimously approved a resolution opposing his labor policies as anti-union.
Rauner offered a carrot-and-stick approach, dangling "local pension reform" and a Chicago casino before the council, but also asking aldermen to support his policies designed to make the state more "competitive."
"For Chicago to get what it wants, Illinois must get what it needs," Rauner said.
He said the city and state were at a "tipping point," reeling from "crisis to crisis."
He asked aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to "be my partner in turning things around."
Yet immediately before Rauner's appearance, the council unanimously approved a resolution calling Rauner's right-to-work proposal an "attack on established laws" that has the "potential to dismantle labor organizations."
"It's not a step backward," said Ald. Timothy Cullerton (38th). "It's a leap backward to the Dark Ages."
Rauner's proposal in part would allow workers to avoid making mandatory union dues, a move Attorney General Lisa Madigan has called unconstitutional.
Emanuel called it "the wrong legislation for the wrong time."
Ald. John Pope (10th) agreed.
"This hurts Illinois. This hurts Chicago," Pope said.
Rauner's actual remarks met no resistance on the council floor, but they also seemed to be ignored, as the council immediately returned to business after his speech.
The mayor, however, said he was able to "take heart" just in Rauner's interest in addressing the council directly.
"He understands that a strong Illinois is dependent on a strong Chicago," Emanuel said.
Yet otherwise he said what the governor was actually offering was vague.
Emanuel said right-to-work laws lead to a "race to the bottom" with other states trying to court business interests.
He also repeated calls to end the "dual taxation" of Chicagoans, who pay property taxes for Chicago Public Schools and its pension system, while also paying state income taxes that go to statewide teacher pensions.
"If you're gonna make fundamental change, here's a great place to start," Emanuel said. He called on the governor to "be true to your rhetoric," and cut the "inequity" of dual taxation first.
Ald. Edward Burke (14th) called Rauner's address "historic," in that no governor had previously addressed the council during Burke's 46-year tenure as the city's longest-serving alderman.
As the council's informal historian, he said he believed it was the first time a sitting governor addressed the council.
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