SPRINGFIELD – Two lawsuits over union fees on Illinois state employees who don’t belong to unions have stopped in their tracks, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has taken a parallel case into its hands.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman of Chicago and St. Clair County associate judge Christopher Kolker stayed the suits after the Supreme Court chose to review a case involving California teachers.
Gettleman set a status conference a year away, and Kolker told parties in his court to notify him within two weeks of a decision.
When the suits started, in the early days of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration, they apparently promised courtroom fireworks.
Rauner sued first, asking the federal court at Chicago to rule that compulsory union fees violate free speech rights of employees not in unions.
Unions sued Rauner in St. Clair County, to enforce contract agreements that authorize fees on employees not in unions.
In the Chicago action, three state employees moved to intervene and then moved to add their names to Rauner’s complaint.
Gettleman ruled that Rauner lacked standing to assert a constitutional claim but that the three employees could assert it.
In Belleville, Rauner agreed not to enforce an executive order prohibiting the fees, and the unions agreed to suspend grievances they had filed.
Rauner filed a counterclaim against the unions, putting himself in position to advance the free speech argument that he planned to advance in Chicago.
Now he and the unions stop arguing and wait for word from Washington.