NOV 11, 2022
Constitutional right for collective bargaining positioned for narrow passage
Supporters of Amendment 1 speak at a news conference in Chicago in late October.
An amendment to the Illinois Constitution to make collective bargaining a constitutional right was on track to pass, though its success will not be officially determined until the State Board of Elections certifies the results.
The amendment had support from 58.7 percent of voters who voted on the question as of Wednesday. The amendment’s success in early results had opponents declaring victory.
“Tonight, the voters of Illinois sent a clear message by passing the Workers’ Rights Amendment: Illinois is and always will be a workers’ rights state,” said Vote Yes for Workers Rights chair Tim Drea in a statement Wednesday morning.
Constitutional amendments are different from regular races on Illinois ballots because they require a different threshold of votes to pass. First, the amendment can pass if 60 percent of all those who voted on the amendment vote in favor of it. With nearly 59 percent supporting the amendment, late arriving mail-in and provisional ballots could push support for the amendment to 60 percent.
The amendment can also pass if a majority of those voting in the election support the amendment even if it fails to reach the 60 percent threshold. The amendment’s passage then depends on how many people voted on the question.
As of Wednesday, 3,282,277 people voted on the amendment, but 3,816,803 voted in the governor’s race. While the official number of voters in the election won’t be available until the races are certified by the state, this means 85.9 percent of people who voted in the governor’s race also voted on the amendment. According to numbers provided by the Illinois Policy Institute which opposed the amendment, with 14 percent of people skipping the question, the amendment would need to achieve support from 58.15 percent of voters.
In a statement Wednesday morning, the Institute argued it was too early to tell if the amendment passed.
“They tried to sneak a hidden tax hike by voters,” Illinois Policy Institute President Matt Paprocki said in a statement. “The fact that the vote is too close to call right now speaks to Illinoisans’ distrust in enshrining costly new provisions into the constitution that could handcuff them for years to come."
The Institute argued throughout the campaign that the amendment would cause local governments to raise property taxes to pay for extra costs that they would take on from collective bargaining agreements.
But supporters of the amendment believe it will provide positive benefits, especially for those who are in unions.
“From day one, the Vote Yes for Workers’ Rights campaign has been based on the simple idea that every Illinois worker deserves better,” Drea said. “Better pay, stronger benefits, and safer workplaces don’t just help workers thrive; they strengthen our state and keep us all safe.”
Whether the amendment applies to private sector workers is up for debate. The Institute argues federal law governs private sector unions, a statement echoed by Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), the sponsor of the amendment in the Senate, when it was introduced to the legislature. But many supporters believe it will apply to all unions in Illinois, which the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the amendment, agrees with.
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