PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — In November, people will get the chance to vote on whether union rights are protected in the state constitution, and it would prevent future laws from changing that process.
The article that could be added to Amendment I if passed in November reads:
- Employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work. 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.
- The provisions of this Section are controlling over those of Section 6 of Article VII.
Amendment I may be short and sweet, but it’s causing commotion from politicians, union members, and businesses throughout Illinois.
At the first gubernatorial debate, Gov. JB Pritzker stated, “Corporations are much more powerful than an individual worker who wants to go in and bargain for their own wages. So workers ought to be able to get together and go in together to try to get a better wage and safer workplace benefits.”
In opposition, when State Senator Darren Bailey was asked about the Worker’s Rights Amendment, he said, “My message is this: Unions, stay in your lane and everything will be fine. Leave mom and pop and private business alone.”
An Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the University of Illinois Researcher study said if the amendment is passed, it could improve conditions for workers across the state. It also said it would ensure $43 billion in annual income.
Luke Ogan, businesses representative for IUOE Local 649 said, “Men and women covered by collective bargaining agreements in this state make 15% more, more or less. And this would take it and just put it in the Constitution, make it so it can’t be written away.”
However, there’s one question that’s been unanswered that’s leaving non-supporters wanting to vote “no.”
“As a matter of fact, Amendment one is going to increase your property taxes,” said State Senator Bailey.
Ogan, however, explained, “A nurse has never raised taxes on anyone. Bricklayers never raise taxes, and operating engineers never raise anybody’s property taxes. Politicians raise people’s taxes. And this amendment would take power away from politicians. Put it back in the working men and women of Illinois.”
Voters are left confused if they will pay additional taxes if the amendment is passed, or not.
While there aren’t reputable sources to answer that question, CEO and President of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Todd Maisch, said salary increases for workers have to come from somewhere.
“What they don’t look at is how many other people have wages go down to pay those higher wages, and how many jobs don’t get created or get cut in order to go ahead and have a few people get higher wages,” said Maisch. “So it’s not good across the board? There’s no way.”
Then again, there isn’t anything in the amendment specifying if it will increase taxes, or not.