Illinois Voters to decide on ‘Worker’s Rights Amendment’ in November

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 12:12 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2022 at 12:16 AM CDT
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ILLINOIS (KWQC) - When voters in Illinois take to the polls this November, in addition to voting for individual candidates, they will also decide whether or not to approve a new amendment to the state constitution.

Amendment 1, or the “Right to Collective Bargaining Measure” aims to add the right to unionize directly to the Illinois Bill of Rights.

On Nov. 8, voters will see the following as the first question on their ballots:

The proposal outlines bargaining for wages, hours and working conditions as a fundamental right in Illinois. It also includes language that would make it harder for the General Assembly to pass any so-called “right-to-work” laws.

Leaders on both sides of the issue say this could be a decision that will stick around for generations.

Marvel Porter, a 95-year-old that has been working the phone banks for what advocates are calling the “Worker’s Rights Amendment.”

He said he wants the next generation to have the rights he’s enjoyed as a lifetime union worker, constitutionally protected.

“We need it for the future for our young people,” Porter said. “Years ago, in the workplace, you could say and do a whole lot of things, but nowadays, you better keep your mouth closed, so we need this bill.”

On the other hand, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce has spoken against the measure. President and CEO, Todd Maisch said the language is too vague.

“There’s working conditions as a term that’s also in there. None of those are defined,” Maisch. “All it takes is one union and one enterprising lawyer to file court cases and just kind of continue to expand what those things are.”

Maisch also argued that the amendment would create an anti-business environment in the state.

“That is going to make Illinois really anti-competitive for a very, very long time,” Maisch said. “It’s going to send a terrible, terrible message to people who create jobs [and] make investments here in the State of Illinois, because Illinois will prove itself to be an outlier yet again.”

However, Pat Devaney, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO said he believes this will attract more businesses.

“They’re looking for something Illinois very much has and we would like to preserve and grow,” Devaney said. “That is a highly-skilled, trained workforce.”

The Illinois Policy institute, a libertarian non-profit, claims the amendment would raise property taxes by $2,100. Devaney denied those claims

“This amendment has nothing to do with property taxes,” Devaney said. “What this ‘Worker’s Rights Amendment’ will do, is to ensure that workers will have the rights to join a union [and] to organize.”

The Illinois Chamber doesn’t completely agree with IPI’s number, but they do believe it could have adverse effects on property taxes down the line. Either way, Maisch called on voters to do their own research before heading to the polls.

“If that effort is successful, it can be with us for a generation or more,” Maisch said. “You should be very, very skeptical of amending the constitution.”

The amendment needs to receive approval from 60% of the people who vote on it in order to pass, or a majority of those voting in the election.

If approved, the section would read as follows:

The Illinois Manufactures’ Association also opposes the measure, but they have yet to respond to TV6 News’ request for an Interview.