- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Bruce Rauner’s attempts to prohibit unions from requiring non-members to provide financial support hit a snag Friday.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office said Friday that the state comptroller is not bound by Rauner’s executive order targeting so-called “fair-share” dues that non-union members pay. Her staff said fair-share fees are constitutional and locked in legally binding contracts.

A spokesman for Comptroller Leslie Munger - a Republican Rauner appointed to office - released a statement saying only that she would “defer to the guidance” of the Democratic attorney general.

But Rauner’s office late Friday said that state agencies under the Republican’s control would withhold the fees in an escrow account until a federal lawsuit Rauner filed this week is complete.

“Whether it’s the Comptroller or the individual departments that keep the ‘unfair share’ funds in reserve, the governor is making sure that he is able to carry out his obligation to protect the constitutional rights of the people of Illinois while recognizing that this important issue will ultimately be decided by the courts,” Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said.

The new governor, hitting his stride in his first month in office with several public efforts to undermine union strength, named as defendants more than two dozen public-employee unions in the lawsuit aimed at getting fair-share dues declared unconstitutional. They are fees charged to non-union members for supporting collective bargaining, grievances and other non-political union operations.

Rauner says that about 6,500 non-union state employees should not have to pay for a union they don’t want to join. They generate more than $3.7 million a year.

The largest state-employee union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which called Rauner’s executive order illegal, applauded Madigan and Munger.

“Two of our state’s constitutional officers are clearly committed to upholding the Constitution,” said AFSCME executive director Roberta Lynch. “That they include both a Democrat and a Republican shows that preserving the integrity of our democracy isn’t a partisan or political issue.”

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Online

Illinois executive orders: https://www.illinois.gov/Government/ExecOrders/

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