Does Amendment 1 matter?
Obviously any effort to permanently change the state constitution is significant, and so Amendment 1 most certainly matters. But this election cycle is narrowly removed from a failed effort to enact an amendment allowing for graduated income tax rates, and there is a noticeable drop-off in attention.
Amendment 1 would grant a “fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively and to negotiate wages, hours, and working conditions, and to promote their economic welfare and safety at work” and would bar state or local governments from enacting “any law that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety.”
I was one of three panelists in an Illinois Associated Press Media Editors session on the subject, asking questions a group of print journalists assembled. Guests were Joe Bowen, communications director for a Vote Yes for Workers Rights, the only organized political committee campaigning on the issue; and Mailee Smith, labor policy director and a staff attorney with the Illinois Policy Institute, which opposes the measure.
I didn’t ask why Amendment 1 seems siloed compared to the graduated tax push, which reverberated across the 2020 ballot, including Supreme Court retention votes. Anyone with an Illinois mailbox or video screen in 2020 remembers being inundated with advertisements for and against – no real surprise given each side spent more than $60 million.
IPI is using its existing channels to spread the no message, while Vote Yes For Workers Rights has spent close to $5 million at last check, roughly 4% of the total spent two years ago. Neither gubernatorial candidate has meaningfully centered the issue, and it wasn’t a leading topic in Thursday’s debate.
Via email, Smith told me she thinks Gov. JB “Pritzker is the main reason” Amendment 1 isn’t getting the same attention and funding as the tax amendment. “While he has endorsed Amendment 1, he is also focused on many other issues that me must think will win him favorability.”
Bowen suggested Amendment 1 “really isn’t a political issue” and said the workers he speaks with are “tired of special interests and politicians that play games with their rights at work and their livelihoods. They understand that their rights at work shouldn’t be subject to change if there’s someone new in the governor’s office or sitting on the state Supreme Court, and voters are ready to safeguard their rights.”
Pass or fail, implications will intersect with many offices also on the ballot. Voters should take that reality into consideration.
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October 16, 2022 at 01:29PM