Illinois Year In Review: Voters approved labor amendment in 2022

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(The Center Square) – Voters in 2022 approved changing the Illinois Constitution with the passage of Amendment 1.

The top question on the November ballot asked voters to enshrine in the state constitution collective bargaining rights for wages and work conditions, and prohibit laws regulating what can be negotiated. Amendment 1 was certified as passed by the Illinois State Board of Elections earlier this month with 54.5% of total ballots cast.

The language of the Amendment says, "No law shall be passed 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, including any law or ordinance that prohibits the execution or application of agreements between employers and labor organizations that represent employees requiring membership in an organization as a condition of employment."

Gov. J.B. Pritzker proclaimed the measure passed earlier this month.

"This is the greatest state in the nation, let us be clear, and part of the reason is that we have a rich history of upholding worker’s rights in Illinois," Pritzker said while standing alongside state lawmakers and union presidents. "I said we were going to ban three words for the dictionaries of the state of Illinois, ‘right to work.’ Well, today, we are getting that done."

The measure was widely criticized by Republicans and business groups who said it will lead to tax increases in a state already assessed among the highest taxes in the nation.

In November, Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy urged voters to vote against the measure.

"Should Amendment 1 pass, it could only be changed or repealed via additional constitutional referendum, effectively usurping the power of the State Legislature to make needed changes in the future," Tracy said. "While we support workers and their right to organize, the Illinois Republican Party opposes the passage of Amendment 1."

Mailee Smith of the Illinois Policy Institute, a group that filed a lawsuit to block the measure, claims the amendment violates federal law.

"We were seeking to remove the Amendment from the ballot because Illinois taxpayers should not be spending money on a ballot measure that is unconstitutional," Smith said earlier this year. "There are four provisions of this amendment, and no other state constitution includes any of those provisions, let alone all four."

IPI also was against the measure because of its tax hike implications.

"Illinois households can expect to pay an additional $2 billion in property taxes by 2026 if voters OK Amendment 1 and property tax increases continue at their recent rate," Illinois Policy’s Bryce Hill said in a blog post.

Pritzker said passage is an accomplishment for many Illinoisans.

"We proclaimed that there would be no right-to-work laws ever to see the light of day in Illinois, and that’s because of the great leaders in the Senate, the great leaders in the House, and electing a governor that is pro-worker," Pritzker said.

The measure went into effect after its certification on Dec. 5.

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December 27, 2022 at 10:01AM

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