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A new way in Springfield

Gov. Bruce Rauner set off fireworks this week when he hit the state’s public employees unions where it hurts most – their bank accounts.

Rauner issued an executive order and filed a companion lawsuit to stop the practice of state employees who aren’t in a union having to pay so-called fair-share union fees. About 6,580 of 46,573 state employees choose not to belong to a union but they might as well be. The fair-share fees amount to about $577 a year for each of those 6,580 employees.

Proponents argue that those worker benefit from collective bargaining, and therefore should share in its costs. But Rauner, argues, correctly, that they essentially are being forced to help fund the unions’ political activities. Fair-share fees can’t be spent for political purposes, but practically speaking there’s no way to separate politics from what the unions do with the money they collect.

All this begs the question: If the unions are doing such a great job for state employees, why do workers have to be forced to pay fees? Wouldn’t they want to voluntarily do it?

The truth is, an increasing number of workers don’t think being in a union is beneficial to them and in fact think it is counterproductive. Rauner wants to give state workers the same right-to-work protections that public employees in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan have gained in recent years. It’s probably not a coincidence that those neighboring states are in much better fiscal shape than Illinois.

Rauner promised that if elected, he would take bold steps to turn around Illinois. And so it begins.