Amendment 1 would give the heads of the government union in Illinois the most extreme powers in the nation

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No other state constitution guarantees full powers to government unions, and 28 state constitutions don’t even see a need to mention the work.

When voters go to the polls on November 8, 2022, there is something they should know: if they pass Amendment 1, it will give the Illinois government union leaders the most extreme powers in the country.

In particular, Amendment 1 would add four different labor provisions to the Illinois Constitution: 1) a “fundamental right” to organize and negotiate; 2) the right to negotiate wages, hours, working conditions, economic welfare and work safety – that is, practically anything; 3) a prohibition forbidding lawmakers from ever impairing, negating, or diminishing these rights; and 4) a ban on right to work laws.

Taken together, these provisions would give union leaders more power than state lawmakers. The ability of union leaders to override state laws by negotiating conflicting provisions in union contracts would be permanently enshrined in the Illinois Constitution. And most government unions would have the perpetual right to call strikes to ensure their demands for such regulations were met – a tactic used, for example, by the Chicago Teachers Union for its social agenda on housing, immigration, restorative justice and prosperity to use threatens to redistribute and defuse the police.

This is not a set of powers that any other state constitution deems necessary to protect it.

In fact, most states don’t even address work-related issues in their constitutions. A very small minority of state constitutions provide for a language that grants workers in the state labor rights – but even most allow restrictions on union power. No other state in the nation forbids the right to work in its constitution.

Illinois is already an outlier among its neighbors when it comes to empowering government unions through state law. If Amendment 1 were passed, it would cement that power into the state’s constitution and make government unions more powerful in Illinois than in any other state.

Most state constitutions do not contain any labor law provisions

The majority of states do not include language relating to trade unions or organizing rights in their constitutions.

Amendment 1 contradicts the national standard.

Remarkably, the Illinois government employees do not need this change. You are already granted extensive rights under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act for public education employees and the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act for other state and local government employees.

Also, the Illinois Constitution is where the business of government is defined – not where a particular economic policy is favored or a group receives special treatment at the expense of others.

There is a reason most states do not include labor policy in their constitutions: labor policy does not belong there.

A small minority of state constitutions provide for the linguistic granting of workers’ rights – most of them, however, provide for restrictions on union power

Most state constitutions with labor law provide legal restrictions on union power. Amendment 1 does the opposite and restricts the legislature’s legislative power on labor issues.

At least two states restrict the types of workers who are affected by their constitutional provisions. The Michigan provision allows collective bargaining on virtually any subject, but only affects state police officers and sergeants. Likewise, the Oregon provision only affects home care providers who receive government funding. Conversely, the wording in Amendment No 1 contains no restrictions and applies to all employees in the public and private sectors.

While Hawaii, Utah, and Wyoming all contain provisions that grant workers rights, each of these provisions also gives legislative powers to outline or limit those rights. Hawaii grants government employees the right to organize “as required by law” for collective bargaining, which allows some legislative flexibility. Utah and Wyoming both offer that “labor rights should be fairly protected by law …”. Rather than tying the hands of the legislature, these provisions leave it to the state legislatures to determine the appropriate scope of the listed workers’ rights.

And while Florida contains a language that guarantees workers ‘right to negotiate, it also expressly prohibits public sector workers’ strikes.

Amendment 1 does the opposite. Instead of restricting the power of the trade unions, it restricts the legislature’s ability to govern.

And even the broader rules in Missouri, New Jersey and New York don’t go as far as Amendment 1. Everyone provides workers with the right to negotiate through representatives of their choice, but the rules stop there. They do not call the law a “fundamental right,” mandate that virtually any subject can be negotiated in union contracts, or prohibit elected lawmakers from further defining the scope of union rights.

In fact, no other state constitution restricts legislative power over government unions. Illinois would be the first. *

No state constitutions prohibit the right to work

While nine state constitutions contain the right to work, these provisions all give workers the freedom to choose whether to join and pay a union. No state constitution contains a ban on the right to work.

Amendment 1 would make Illinois the first state in the country to prohibit economic policies approved by the majority of states.

Amendment No 1 goes further than all provisions in any state constitution

If Amendment 1 is passed in November 2022, it would be the first constitutional provision of its kind in the nation. It would be:

  • The first to make organizing and negotiating a “fundamental right”
  • The first to allow negotiations on limitless topics
  • The first to forbid the legislature from restricting the power of trade unions
  • The first to prohibit the right to work.

This change would give unaccountable union leaders more power than elected state lawmakers have. Guaranteeing this kind of union power through a constitutional protection agency would make it the most extreme constitutional provision in the country.

* There are three other state constitutions that have labor law provisions, but these provisions do not guarantee or limit rights. Nevada allows collective agreements to waive the minimum wage; Pennsylvania allows its General Assembly to pass laws that provide that the results of any boards or commissions related to collective bargaining between police officers and firefighters and their employers are binding; and South Carolina guarantees the right to secret ballots in union elections.

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