To the editor:
The Illinois state director of the National Federation of Independent Business said in a recent letter to the editor (in the Springfield Journal Register) that she supports Gov. Bruce Rauner’s efforts to shift the risk and expense of caring for Illinoisans injured at their workplaces or harmed by corporate negligence and malfeasance onto the state’s taxpayers.
Rauner, a multi-millionaire who owns nine homes, has proposed an Orwellianly misnamed “Turnaround Agenda” that would trade an inadequate and slowly phased in minimum wage increase for a substantial weakening of currently modest workplace protections and require those who suffer catastrophic injuries to forfeit the right to reasonable compensation and help with their medical bills.
The governor also seeks to severely erode the state’s tort laws, making it easier for negligent drivers, polluters, careless professionals and reckless corporations to escape accountability when their dangerous actions hurt or kill people.
It’s a shame to see NFIB, an organization that claims to represent the little guy, cheer for Rauner’s proposals that would hurt the economic security of Illinoisans who shop at NFIB member businesses. But, NFIB, like so many others, has been co-opted into the 40-year war on American workers that has left the average person with less savings, real income, and economic security and benefitted only the very rich.
Eroding the constitutional rights of citizens who have been harmed to utilize the courts that their tax dollars fund would send the message that our civil justice system is exclusively for the use of corporations and the wealthy, rather than something that belongs to everyone, regardless of their means.
Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” is, in reality, a “Run Illinois Into the Ground Agenda”, which is what has happened in other states, like Kansas and Wisconsin, where similar proposals have been enacted. Groups like NFIB should rethink their support and lawmakers should reject race-to-the-bottom policies that will leave us all worse off.
JOHN D. COONEY
President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association