Amendment 1: workers rights or tax increase?


Union members leading a protest march through Pitt Street, Sydney on September 6, 2018.

This Tuesday, voters will be asked to vote on a proposed Illinois Constitutional Amendment 1, Right to Collective Bargaining Measure, which says:

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 work place 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 last sentence means that as long as an employer and its unions want to require all their employees to join the union, no law can be passed to prevent that. Non-union members in Illinois would have no "right to work." Advocates, such as Vote Yes for Workers' Rights, say that weakening unions has caused lower wages, benefits, training, and safety standards.

The libertarian Illinois Policy thinktank says the amendment would give unions more power in Illinois than in any other state. It could make it impossible for governments to renegotiate any pension plans included in collective bargaining agreements, which could make it harder to reduce state debt or property taxes. That's why they claim the law, though it says nothing about property taxes, would increases property taxes by $2,100 for the typical family.

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