As Illinois voters head to the polls for the November election, they will be asked to vote on a possible amendment to the state constitution. But what is the “Workers’ Rights Amendment” and what will it change?
The amendment will ask voters if they wish to establish a constitutional right for employees to organize and bargain collectively, specifically to negotiate “wages, hours and working conditions and to protect their economic well-being and their safety at work.
The amendment follows the defeat of the Progressive Income Tax Amendment in the 2020 election.
This is what the amendment says
The synopsis of the bill, as drawn up by the General Assembly, reads as follows:
“(The bill) proposes to amend the Bill of Rights section of the Illinois Constitution. Provides that employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their choice for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic well-being and workplace safety Provides that no law shall be passed that interferes with, denies, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours of work and other terms and conditions of employment and work safety in the workplace, including any law or ordinance prohibiting the performance or application of agreements between employers and trade union organizations representing employees requiring membership in an organization as a condition of employment.
The amendment would specifically alter Article 1 of the state constitution, referred to in the synposis as the state’s “bill of rights.” This section essentially mirrors the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, while also providing protections in other areas, including the prohibition of discrimination based on sex and discrimination based on physical or mental disabilities.
The amendment would also modify Article 7, which sets guidelines for the powers given to local governments under the constitution’s “home rule” provisions.
How will voters know if the amendment passed or failed?
The measure would need 60% approval to pass and amend the state constitution.
Who supports the measure?
Labor groups representing both public and private workers have broadly supported the measure, including the Chicago Teachers’ Union, the Illinois Chapter of the AFL-CIO and the SEIU.
Illinois Democrats, including Governor JB Pritzker, also voiced support for the amendment.
“Worker safety and economic security are a fundamental right of all workers, from domestic workers to medical doctors,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea in a statement. “Everyone deserves a safe workplace and economic security.”
Who opposes the measure?
Business groups including the Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Manufacturers Association have expressed opposition to the measure, as has the Illinois Republican Party as a whole, though some GOP lawmakers have expressed their support for the amendment.
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch argues the measure would invest more political power in the leadership of unions and fail to deliver the income and job security gains that proponents of the amendment promised the workers.
The Illinois Policy Institute also supports that by giving more power to public unions, state residents would be hit with higher property tax bills because of the additional benefits the amendment could potentially give unions during labor negotiations.
Research by the IPI indicates that property tax bills could collectively increase by $2,100 over the next four years, although property tax rates have steadily increased in recent years, according to US Census data. Desk.