CHICAGO — The final votes are still being tallied, but local unions are already celebrating what they believe is a milestone victory for workers.
If approved, the Workers’ Rights Amendment, officially called Amendment 1 Ballot measure, will enshrine labor protections in the state constitution.
Union leaders said the ballot faced strong anti-union opposition from big business interests.
Dr. Rosemary Feurer, of Northern Illinois University, said the amendment puts the state in a league of its own when it comes to protecting a broad range of workers.
“It’s not only government public sector workers. It’s all workers in the state, including agricultural workers, who are left out of federal law,” she said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there are almost two million votes approving the amendment with near 1.4 million saying no. Eighty-seven percent of the votes have been reported at this time.
Democrats in the Statehouse are seeking to prevent what happened to states like Wisconsin in 2011 — with public employees protesting the limitation of collective bargaining rights.
Scholars if passed, it would make it nearly impossible for future legislators to take collective bargaining rights away. It would include ironclad provisions like the fundamental right for public service workers or other groups to unionize.
Marilee Smith, with the Illinois Policy Institute, said the amendment could give union leaders too much power.
“It could allow government unions to negotiate virtually anything,” Smith said.
Union leaders rebuttal by claiming the Illinois Policy Institute is funded by dark money and big business.