Worker’s Rights on the Illinois Ballot

Worker’s Rights on the Illinois Ballot

ROCKFORD (WREX) – Election day is less than a month away and there’s a ballot initiative that’s aiming to make changes to the state constitution to protect the rights of workers to unionize.

Come election day, Illinoisans will have a chance to vote on the future of unions.

Illinois’s labor movement can be traced back to the 1860s when miners tried to secure safe working conditions to be a constitutional right but received pushback.

Dr. Rosemary Feurer a NIU history professor explains, “It wasn’t until the 20th century that miners got the protection of even an escape exit so they fought on those issues. So we might think that’s just something everyone would accept but they said no it will make our coal too expensive.”

The ballot will ask voters if they wish to add to the Illinois constitution the right for workers to unionize and collectively negotiate. 

“Right now anyone can unionize in Illinois, we just want to protect that in the constitution so that if there’s ever a question our constitution speaks to it, There’s no financial changes, there’s no changes to whos going to be able to organize, there’s no changes to how they’ll be able to organize. What we want is to protect workers choices on the job,” says Sara Dorner, President of Rockford United Labor, AFL-CIO. 

As President of the Rockford United Labor, Sara Dorner oversees over 25,000 union members consisting of plumbers, carpenters, teachers and more.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says the proposal will give unions more political power instead of providing more money to families.

We reached out to local area chambers of commerce but they declined to comment.

“By having a union allows for workers to come together and say we believe this could be best done this way, we believe that we need more staffing to keep this safe, we believe we need these supplies, those are some of the benefits, they can speak out about safety issues without fear of retaliation or without having to go through some black hole of HR (human resource) internal grievance procedure,” explains Dorner. 

Wisconsin laws removing workers rights back in 2011 and state candidates running on anti-labor platforms have mobilized labor groups for this ballot initiative.

“In the aftermath of that, labor unions saw an opportunity to turn around that dialogue and say no we’re going to go and actually put into place something that would prevent any attempt by the American Labor Exchange Counsel to get this kind of legislation in Illinois, we’re going to end the debate because it is consuming,” say Professor Feurer. 

If you wish to make your voice heard on this issue early voting has already begun and you can still register to vote if you haven’t already. 

To see a sample of the November ballot visit:

To register vote visit:

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October 13, 2022 at 09:09PM

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