Union and employee organization on ballot

An item concerning union organization and labor bargaining in Illinois will be on ballots for the upcoming Nov. 8 general election.

The full text of the item can be found on in the Sept. 7 issue of the Republic-Times.

The proposed amendment would add a Section 25 to the Illinois Constitution Bill of Rights, enshrining into law the rights of employees to organize and bargain collectively when negotiating wages, hours and working conditions.

The proposal also mentions the rights of workers to “protect their economic welfare and safety at work.”

Further, the proposal says no law shall be passed that “interferes with, negates or diminishes” the previously mentioned rights.

Support for the amendment states that it will “protect workers’ and others’ safety.” The proposal specifically cites the ability of nurses to prioritize patient care over profit and construction workers’ ability to speak out against possible dangers in the workplace.

The proposal also mentions the secured rights and protections of those working with food to point out health hazards and first responders to push for the training and resources that they need.

Support also expressed the positive effect this amendment could have on the economy and community businesses as workers are able to better negotiate for improved wages.

Arguments against the amendment suggest its language prohibits laws that allow union workers to choose whether they want to be a union member or not, potentially infringing on their right to free speech and freedom of association.

Arguments against also cite the United States Supreme Court decision Janus v. Illinois AFSCME, which established that non-union government employees cannot be required to pay union dues. They add that the amendment will deny that specific protection to workers in the private sector.

Further, opposition argues that the language of the amendment is too broad in places and could make later clarification difficult. Opposition also points to current protections for public employees that have been used to neglect Illinois’ pension fund deficits.

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Andrew Unverferth

HTC web