🔒 Say Yes for Workers Rights Amendment declares victory

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Workers rights
Participants in East Moline’s 2022 Labor Day Parade show their support for the Workers Rights Amendment. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Backers of Amendment 1 on Illinois’ election ballot Tuesday declared victory shortly after midnight today saying they were confident that the right to collectively bargain will be enshrined in the Illinois Constitution. With 82% of precincts reporting statewide, leaders of the Vote Yes for Workers Rights Amendment acknowledged that – at 59% of the vote […]

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Backers of Amendment 1 on Illinois’ election ballot Tuesday declared victory shortly after midnight today saying they were confident that the right to collectively bargain will be enshrined in the Illinois Constitution.

With 82% of precincts reporting statewide, leaders of the Vote Yes for Workers Rights Amendment acknowledged that – at 59% of the vote – the measure was “just shy” of the 60% approval the question needed to be ratified. But Vote Yes said “it remains firmly on track for passage with an overwhelming majority of the vote.” 

The latter majority was holding at 8 a.m. when, with 88% of precincts reporting, the amendment had more than 2 million votes in favor, compared to 1.4 million voting no.

Under Illinois law, an amendment needs the support of three-fifths of those voting on the issue, but constitutional questions also are approved if they win a simple majority of all ballots cast in the election.

If certified, the amendment would bar future Illinois Legislatures from enacting “right-to-work” laws without first amending the constitution again. If certified, Illinois will join just three other states to put such bans in their constitutions.

Under right-to-work laws, workers cannot be required to join a labor union to get or keep a job. Today, 28 states have right-to-work laws including five of Illinois’ six neighbors: Iowa, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi and Indiana.

The Vote Yes campaign was led by Joe Bowen, communications director. He told the QCBJ today: “We declared victory because we feel confident that we’ve won this race via a majority of those voting in the election.”

Should that majority stand, according to a news release from the organization, “The voters of Illinois sent a clear message by passing the Workers’ Rights Amendment: Illinois is and always will be a workers’ rights state.”

The Vote Yes campaign added that it is “now confident that the outcome of the election is clear: “The Workers’ Rights Amendment will pass and be added to the Illinois Constitution when the election is certified.”  

Throughout the campaign, union leaders say the proposed Workers Rights Amendment will protect Illinoisans’ right to bargain collectively for wages, benefits and working conditions, while business leaders called it a union power grab that will hurt the state’s economy and cement Illinois’ reputation as a bad place to do business.

The pro-amendment campaign was heavily funded by labor unions and the coalition blanketed the state, knocking on doors, organizing and attending rallies. It also dominated the airwaves with television, radio and digital advertising in the months leading up to the Nov. 8 election. 

Opponents of the effort, including editorial pages and Illinois manufacturing and business organizations, got a late start and were heavily outspent by the pro-amendment campaign.

Union leaders are among those celebrating the amendment’s apparent victory today.

“From Day One, the Vote Yes for Workers’ Rights campaign has been based on the simple idea that every Illinois worker deserves better,” said Tim Drea, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO and Vote Yes chair. “Better pay, stronger benefits, and safer workplaces don’t just help workers thrive; they strengthen our state and keep us all safe.”

He added: “This victory is a historic moment for our workers and our entire state. We know that the best way to kick-start our economy and help families deal with rising costs is to put more money in their pockets. The Workers’ Rights Amendment will protect every Illinoisan’s right to join with their co-workers to negotiate for pay raises for generations to come.”

Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor and Vote Yes treasurer, credited his union members and other Illinois workers with the win.

“It has been inspiring to see Illinois workers rise up to fight for each other and pass the Workers’ Rights Amendment. Tonight, the truth defeated lies, and workers voted to put themselves first and protect their rights on the job,” he added.

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November 9, 2022 at 04:17PM

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