Illinois voters will decide ballot measure in 2022 to make collective bargaining a state constitutional right

In 2022, voters in Illinois will decide a constitutional amendment to make collective bargaining a right. The ballot measure would also prohibit a future right-to-work law in Illinois.

In the General Assembly, the constitutional amendment needed to receive 36 votes in the Senate and 71 votes in the House. The Illinois Senate voted 49 to 7 on May 21, 2021. Senate Democrats and 11 Senate Republicans supported the resolution, while seven Senate Republicans opposed it. The Illinois House of Representatives voted in favor of the amendment 80 to 30 on May 26, 2021. House Democrats and 9 House Republicans supported the resolution. Thirty House Republicans voted against the proposal. During committee hearings, representatives from the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, Chicago Teachers, and Illinois AFL-CIO advocated for the constitutional amendment, and representatives from the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and National Federation of Independent Business advocated against it.

Currently, 27 states have right-to-work laws, which mandate that no person can be required to pay dues to a labor union or join a labor union as a condition of employment.

In 2018, Missouri voters repealed the right-to-work law through a veto referendum. Missouri was the last state in which voters directly voted on a right-to-work law.

In 2022, Tennessee voters will decide a measure to put a right-to-work provision into the state’s constitution. Tennessee enacted a right-to-work law in state statute 1947.

Since 1995, Illinois voters have decided 7 constitutional amendments, approving 5 of them. The most recent defeated measure was in 2020, when 53% of voters opposed a constitutional amendment to repeal the requirement that the state personal income tax be a flat rate and instead allow the state to enact legislation for a graduated income tax. The 2020 tax amendment saw more than $123 million in contributions, with supporters and opponents evenly split in terms of campaign cash. 

The Illinois General Assembly is expected to adjourn on May 31, 2021. Additional constitutional amendments can be referred to the 2022 general election ballot during the remainder of this year’s legislative session or during next year’s legislative session.

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