Illinois workers, unions celebrate ‘historic’ passage of Workers’ Rights Amendment

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‘Mother Jones is looking down, smiling;’ law stops phony ‘right-to-work (for less)’, guarantees right to collective bargaining

By ED FINKELSTEIN
Publisher Emeritus

MOTHER JONES is looking down and smiling’ on the passage of the Workers’ Rights Amendment in Illinois. Making the point at one of the enthusiastic Labor rallies held prior to the vote is Mother Jones herself faithfully portrayed by Loretta Williams.
– Labor Tribune photo

Illinois voters approved the historic Workers Rights Amendment last week, supporters of the measure said Nov. 14 as the Labor Tribune goes to press. Although vote counting was continuing Monday and the passage had not been finalized by election officials, Labor was claiming victory.

The Workers’ Rights Amendment guarantees every Illinois citizen their fundamental right to organize their workplace and bargain collectively for better pay and safe workplaces. It permanently outlaws any attempt to pass as so-called “right-to-work (for less).” Illinois will be the fourth state to enshrine the right to collective bargaining in its constitution.

WHY THE ‘DELAY?
The amendment to the state constitution requires either a 60 percent approval by voters casting a vote on the issue OR more than 50 percent of the total ballots cast in the election.

On Monday morning, with counting still underway, the amendment was at 58 percent “yes” votes — not enough to meet the 60 percent threshold. But it had also totaled 53 percent of all ballots cast in the election — more than enough for passage, said Joe Bowen of the Vote Yes for Workers’ Rights organization, which has been leading the campaign for the amendment.

“We are confident that we have the votes needed to pass,” said Alyssa Goodstein, communications director for the Illinois AFL-CIO.

Bill Looby, political director for the Illinois AFL-CIO, said it would be “next to impossible” for the amendment to fail because so few votes were left to be reported.

The amendment, he said, helped Democratic, union-supporting candidates up and down the ballot, Looby said. “A lot of the feedback I got had very little negative,” he said. “Issues do better than candidates.”

HISTORIC VICTORY
“History was made with the passage of the Workers’ Rights Amendment,” celebrated Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea.“ This would not have been possible without the strong solidarity of a statewide Labor Movement that came together in unison to protect the rights of our hardworking families… knocking on doors, making phone calls, and talking to their neighbors and families about why the amendment is so essential for every worker and family in Illinois.”

“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 coworkers to negotiate for pay raises for generations to come,” Drea said, adding, “The voters of Illinois sent a clear: Illinois is and always will be a workers’ rights state. We to congratulate Illinois workers for this historic victory.”

LOCAL REACTION
“I want to congratulate all the hard-working men and women of Illinois for standing up and expressing to those that try to divide us this will not be tolerated,” said Eric Oller, executive secretary-treasurer of the Southwestern Illinois Building Trades Council, adding: “(We want) to thank or friends in the legislature for voting to make this historic day possible. Most importantly, I want to thank those before us that have made the sacrifices for Organized Labor because of them, our voice is louder than ever.”

Noting the closeness of the vote, Scot Luchtefeld, president, Southwestern Central Labor Council, said, “It was truly a great day. Unfortunately, the millionaires with their disinformation came very close to killing this amendment.”

Succinct and to the point, Iron Workers Local 392 Business Manager John Schmitt said: “It was a great day!”

“We’re all excited about the passage because it will not only positively impact our union members, but workers across Illinois,” said B.Dean Webb, president of the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor. ”The people of Illinois saw through the lies of the opposition and once again proved that truth wins out. Our members, our unions, our leadership worked hard to make this happen, they deserve the thanks of everyone.”

Looking to the future, Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said: “… we look forward to partnering with allies across the country to bring the protections of the Workers’ Rights Amendment to workers across the country.”

“The nation was watching, and this vote sends a message across America. Illinois union members laid down a marker, and now Organized Labor is on the offense,” said a jubilant Doug House, the campaign’s regional director, adding, “Mother Jones is looking down and smiling!”

Noted a statement from the National AFL-CIO: “One of the most important ballot proposals in this election was in Illinois, where right-wing politicians have been trying to chip away at our right to organize. Voters, driven by a positive and effective campaign from Illinois’ union members, have responded in huge numbers to pass the Workers’ Rights Amendment. This amendment … will protect the right to organize so that more workers in the state have the opportunity to join together in a union.”

(Carl Green, retired Illinois correspondent, provided update information.)


 

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November 21, 2022 at 09:48AM

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