fbpx Skip to content

Unions push through ballot measures on Election Day

Politicians weren’t the only items on ballots across the country last week. Voters made important decisions on ballot measures – measures unions heavily promoted or campaigned against during the 2022 midterm election cycle.

In Tennessee, almost 70% of voters approved Amendment 1, a Right to Work amendment to their state constitution. The amendment prohibits forced unionization of workers in order to keep their jobs.

The AFL-CIO’s Tennessee chapter blasted the amendment’s supporters as “greedy politicians, big business, and corporate special interest groups.” The chapter’s president, Billy Dycus, said, “It is much about making sure that they can control employees in the workplace.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on the other hand, who supported Amendment 1, told Tennesseans that without the amendment’s passage, they “will be forced to fall in line, pay union dues, and join organizations that give payouts to political cronies.”

Proposition 1 in New York, called the “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond,” passed by a 67%-32% vote. The proposition was supported by several unions, such as New York State AFL-CIO, and could cost New Yorkers $4.2 billion when implemented.

In Colorado, voters voted to pass Proposition FF by a 13% margin. The proposition creates and funds a school meal program, called ‘Healthy School Meals for All Program,” through raising taxes to subsidize the program. A coalition website supporting Proposition FF listed the Colorado chapter of the American Federation of Teachers as a supporting organization.

Proposition 209 in Arizona passed with over 70% of the vote. The proposition capped debt interest rates from healthcare services. SEIU United Healthcare was a chief supporter.

In Illinois, the union-backed Amendment 1 is facing a trickier path. Amendment 1 could pass in two different paths: The amendment must receive 60% “yes” votes or receive a “yes” vote in over 50% of the ballots in the current election.

Currently, “yes” votes for Amendment 1 sit at 58%, which falls short of the 60% path. But Amendment 1 could pass the second path by garnering over 50% of the total ballots cast in Illinois.

Although the results are not yet official, labor unions already celebrated Amendment 1’s passage.

“Voters across the state reaffirmed that Illinois is a state by and for working people, and they chose to protect working families over corporate interests,” SEIU Healthcare Illinois said. “By enshrining workers’ rights into our state’s constitution, future generations of Illinois workers will continue to have a voice on the job to fight for livable wages, workplace safety, paid leave and more.”

If Amendment 1 truly passes, the amendment will enshrine a union’s collective bargaining rights into the state’s constitution and will give broad and expansive power to government unions. Amendment supporters say it prevents Right to Work laws from being enacted in the future by state legislators, while opponents say the amendment would hurt businesses, provide government unions unchecked power, and lead to higher taxes.

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.