Union Station: Collective bargaining amendment on the 2022 Illinois ballot

Illinois legislature refers collective bargaining amendment to 2022 ballot  

The Illinois General Assembly referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would guarantee employees the right to organize and bargain collectively.

About the amendment 

The proposed amendment would add the following language to Article I of the Illinois Constitution:

  1. 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 at work. No law shall be passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and work place safety, including any law or ordinance that prohibits the execution or application of agreements between employers and labor organizations that represent employees requiring membership in an organization as a condition of employment.
  1. The provisions of this Section are controlling over those of Section 6 of Article VII.

Rep. Marcus Evans (D) said the constitutional amendment would prohibit right-to-work laws on the state and local level in Illinois and “[prevent] the passage of any future law or ordinance that may diminish collective bargaining rights.”

In Illinois, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment requires 60% of the members of both houses of the General Assembly vote to put it on the ballot. The amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 11 on May 7, 2021. The Senate passed the bill 49-7 on May 21. On May 26, the House passed the bill 80-30. No Democrats voted against the bill. In the Senate, Republicans supported the bill 11-7. Nine House Republicans supported the bill and 30 voted against it.  

For the amendment to be adopted, the ballot measure must be approved by 60% of those voting on the question or a majority vote of those who cast a ballot for any office in the Nov. 8, 2022, election.

Perspectives 

Support

Rep. Lance Yednock (D) said, “One of the most diabolical ways to limit collective bargaining is through so called right-to-work laws. … States that limit collective bargaining see declines in wages, benefits, training, and safety standards. And it’s a losing proposition for all workers.”

Sen. Robert Peters (D) said, “Labor rights are intertwined with race, class, and gender struggles, and we must always fight to preserve them. … Declaring a worker’s right to collective bargain as a fundamental right guaranteed to everyone who works in Illinois is a major step toward winning the real safety and justice in our communities that we’ve been fighting to secure for generations.”

Opposition

Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R) said, “Normally at the federal level, managers who are employees don’t have the right to collectively bargain. … People who are CEOs don’t have the right to collectively bargain. People who are in very sensitive positions don’t have the right to collectively bargain. And yet here, we’re not doing the same sort of refined, nuanced type of meaning of employees that you have in a federal statute.”

Mailee Smith, staff attorney and director of labor policy at Illinois Policy, said, “A constitutional amendment enshrining current labor provisions as ‘fundamental rights’ would mean lawmakers are handing over power to unelected, unaccountable union bosses. … Illinois’ government workers don’t need this amendment. They are already granted broad rights through the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, for public education employees, and the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, for other state and local government employees.” 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 92 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. 

  • Connecticut SB00908: This bill would require public employers to furnish unions with personal contact information of employees belonging to the bargaining unit the union represents. It would also require employers to grant unions access to new employee orientations.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House passed as amended. Senate in concurrence May 25. 
  • Illinois HB2521: This bill would allow electronic signatures on petitions submitted for selecting an exclusive bargaining representative. It would allow certification elections to be conducted electronically. It would also prohibit an employer from promising or taking action against an employee for participating in a strike.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed as amended May 26. House Rules Committee recommended adoption of Senate amendment May 27. 
  • Maine LD555: This bill would grant most public-sector employees the right to strike. Select public safety and judicial employees would not be allowed to strike. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Carry over requested May 21. 
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session held May 24. Recommended “do pass with amendments” May 27.



About the author

Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.