Illinois constitutional amendment divides voters before general Election

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:22 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Illinois workers rights could be forever changed next week with one amendment set to divide opinions during the November 8 elections.

Dubbed by supporters as the “Workers’ Rights Amendment” the proposed law would lock in the rights of private and public sector workers. This will give them the freedom to negotiate wages and working conditions, as well as giving them the freedom to organize.

However, supporters are split across party lines. Paul Hofmann, chairperson for Winnebago County’s Republican Central Committee, says the amendment will allow the government to bring in more mandates.

“The governor has had executive orders and we just see that as another step in that direction and a loss of legislative control,” he told 23 News.

However, the County’s Democratic Central Committee Chairperson, Charlie Laskonis, says these rights have already been in place.

“What the workers right bill does it lock them in place, and it requires a constitutional amendment to change that,” he said.

Organizations like the Illinois Manufacturers Association, Chamber of Commerce and even the Chicago Tribune have spoken out against the proposal, with the latter releasing the quote below:

“Simply put, the Illinois Constitution then would ban any right-to-work laws (not that Illinois actually has any such law), and employers would be able to require workers to pay dues to unions as a condition of employment — something unions generally like because it can otherwise be challenging to collect those dues. Individual workers would not be able to choose whether or not they wanted to be a dues-paying member of a union if one was bargaining for them at their workplace.”

For Laskonis, that’s a good thing, his party don’t want right-to-work laws.

“We want these rights because workers make 17% more on their paychecks than in states where there’s no right to work legislation,” he said.

But Republicans want less change to the State’s Constitution.

“We’d rather see legislation addressing issues that need addressing versus opening up the constitution and who knows where it will end up,” Hofmann said.

Another argument on the Republican side, especially from the Illinois Manufactures Association, is that this amendment would lead to property tax hikes. So far there is no proof this amendment would lead to any tax hikes according to the County’s Democratic Committee.

This will be the only statewide referendum in this election. It will appear on your ballots as the proposed amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution.