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Illinois Amendment 1 draws national attention

Illinois’ November 8 ballot will include an opportunity for Illinoisans to vote on a new priority for government unions: Amendment 1. The initiative would amend the Illinois State Constitution to:

  • State that employees have a right to “organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work” and
  • prohibit any law that “interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively.”

Only Hawaii, Missouri, and New York enshrine some collective bargaining rights in their state constitutions. If passed, Amendment 1 would provide the most broad and unmitigated power to government unions of any state.

Supporters of the amendment say the amendment would prevent Republicans from passing Right-to-Work laws should the Illinois legislature’s makeup shift to the right in the future. Democrats have controlled both state chambers since 2003 and held a trifecta for all but four years during that same time.

Opponents of the amendment say it would lead to higher taxes, hurt businesses, and give government unions unfettered power.

President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Todd Maisch, says 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.”

Public unions spend millions of dollars each year on progressive politics. Opponents of Amendment 1 fear the amendment’s ambiguity could open the door for unions to enshrine progressive policies into collective bargaining agreements without legislative oversight.

Isabel Blank

Isabel Blank is Communications Director at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2021, Isabel worked in media relations at Travelers Insurance and held government affairs and communications roles with Yankee Institute. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, both from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). Isabel loves Crossfit and supporting her local Connecticut breweries.