Voters will be faced with a lot of important decisions Tuesday but the first one will be on a state constitutional amendment that could have major ramifications in Illinois.
The so-called “Workers’ Rights Amendment” aims to codify in the state constitution the right to form a union and collectively bargain over a host of issues.
It would effectively prohibit any future anti-union legislation, like right-to-work laws.
Marc Poulos, executive director of the Indiana, Illinois, Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting, said the amendment would create a stronger collective bargaining state.
“If you want workers to have more power, if you want workers to have more money in their pockets, if you want workers to have a safer working environment, you would vote yes on the workers’ rights amendment,” Poulos said.
The amendment would add a “Workers’ Rights” section to the state Bill of Rights that reads in part: “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 and work.”
Jeff Risch, a partner with the law firm Amundsen Davis, said the amendment is a “clear no.” He said the language “economic welfare” in the amendment has “unlimited meaning.”
“There is no limit to what a public sector worker can negotiate and actually receive at the bargaining table through this amendment,” Risch said.
The amendment needs a simple majority of all voters, or 60% of voters who actually vote on this issue — as opposed to leaving it blank — in order for it to pass.