Judge overturns Illinois governor's anti-union order
Illinois governor Bruce Rauner (Metropolitan Planning Council/Flickr)

An Illinois judge on Friday overturned Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's anti-union order, which would keep fees paid by non-members from the labor groups, at least until the current legal battle ends, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In February, Rauner issued an executive order to eliminate the so-called "fair share" fees for some 6,500 state workers who are represented by a union but have chosen not to join.

He had also filed a lawsuit seeking to have the fees deemed unconstitutional and wanted the money placed in an escrow account during the legal process.

Associate Judge Christopher Kolker of St. Clair County Circuit Court on Friday sided with unions who sued to overturn the order and have the money freed before the case concluded, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"We're pleased that all fair share agreements will now be honored while our legal challenge is pending," Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said in a statement to the Tribune.

A Rauner spokesman told the Tribune that the ruling was part of an agreement between the parties that would free up money for the unions, while ensuring the case would proceed in a timely manner.

Rauner, a wealthy investment banker and political neophyte who came into office in January, has been vocal about his problems with public labor unions and their political power.

He has argued that reforms are necessary to heal the state's financial problems. Illinois has a chronic structural budget deficit as well as the lowest credit ratings and the worst-funded pension system among the 50 states.

Unions say the fees are fair because employees who are not members still benefit from union-negotiated and administered contracts.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Writing by Curtis Skinner; Editing by SImon Cameron-Moore)