Along with the numerous head-to-head races being played out Tuesday night, Illinois voters will also decide whether to amend the state’s constitution to include a new section on workers’ rights.
If passed, the so-called “Labour Law Amendment” would have two effects: The amendment would codify the rights of Illinois workers to organize and bargain collectively, while prohibiting the passage of legislation that would interfere with those rights.
The amendment would add a “workers’ rights” section to the state’s Bill of Rights that reads: “Workers have the fundamental right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours and working conditions and for protection.” their economic well-being, security and jobs. No law shall be made that interferes with, negates or restricts the right of employees to organize and collectively bargain over their wages, hours and other conditions of employment and safety in the workplace, including any law or regulation prohibiting such execution or application of agreements between employers and labor organizations representing workers that require membership of an organization as a condition of employment.”
Marc Poulos, executive director of the Indiana, Illinois, Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting, told WTTW News this week that the change would create a stronger collective bargaining state.
“If you want workers to have more power, if you want workers to have more money in their pockets, if you want workers to have a safer work environment, then you would vote yes to changing workers’ rights.” , he said in “Chicago Tonight” Monday.
Supporters of the change claim this change would allow workers to negotiate working hours and conditions, as well as pay for workplace safety.
“It’s a great opportunity for every worker in Illinois to vote for themselves on November 8,” said Jim Bowen of the Vote Yes for Workers’ Rights ballot initiative committee during a debate led by the Daily Herald last month. “And it will enshrine the protections that most of us already enjoy and extend protections to workers who don’t currently have them.”
The proposal has garnered broad support from unions across the state, including the Illinois AFL-CIO.
However, opponents have argued that the change will drive up taxes nationwide while preventing lawmakers from enacting reforms on the new amendment.
“This means there is virtually no limit to what government unions can demand and strike for,” Mailee Smith, director of labor policy at the right-wing think tank Illinois Policy Institute, said during the same Daily Herald debate. “Government union leaders could demand more subjects and go on strike to get those subjects on their contracts. The legislature cannot change that.”
Jeff Risch, a partner at the Amundsen Davis law firm who also appeared on Chicago Tonight this week, said the change was a “resounding no” for him.
“Make no mistake, this is all about protecting, trying to protect large workers and allowing them to gain more control in Springfield, thereby raising taxes on every working household across the state of Illinois,” he said he.
Illinois AFL-CIO chief Tim Drea previously told WTTW News that there are no plans to make major changes or push for new legislation if the change is passed. Instead, the proposed amendment is about protecting rights.
Unlike most ballots, there are two ways to approve the change: either it needs a yes vote of three-fifths of those voting in favor of the proposal, or a majority of those voting in November’s general election, even if they skip that specific question.
Proponents believe they have enough support to get past that three-fifths, or 60%, threshold, but note that it could take time to get there due to the high number of mail-in ballots that need to be counted.
Amanda Vinicky and Blair Paddock contributed to this report.
This is an evolving story. Check for updates again.
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