5 news outlets say voters should reject Amendment 1
The Wall Street Journal, Crain’s Chicago Business, Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and News-Gazette all said voters should say ‘no’ to Amendment 1. They see it as giving government unions power to force higher taxes and weaker laws.
Five independent news editorial boards have studied Amendment 1 and come to the same conclusion: Illinois voters should reject it Nov. 8.
The Wall Street Journal, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago and the News-Gazette in Champaign all advised Illinoisans to vote against the ballot proposal after concluding the tax implications and vague language make it dangerous and would hurt state finance reform efforts.
The opinions cast the constitutional amendment as a needless government union power grab. They state those behind the “Workers’ Rights Amendment” are misleading Illinois voters about who the proposal would explicitly benefit.
Editorial board members at the News-Gazette went a step farther, calling the amendment a “Trojan horse” that would tie lawmakers’ hands from addressing Illinois’ future policy problems.
Here is what the news outlets said about Amendment 1.
“Public unions already dominate government in Illinois, and Democratic lawmakers now want to amend the constitution to entrench that power and block reforms. Those are the stakes of Amendment 1, which will appear on the November ballot.”
“The National Labor Relations Act already governs private workers and limits who can bargain about what. Illinois can’t expand the collective-bargaining rights of private employees beyond what federal law allows.”
“Proponents nonetheless advertise Amendment 1 as protection for ‘all Illinoisans.’ This looks like an intentional attempt to mislead voters, since the union-backed Vote Yes for Workers’ Rights also claims this will benefit ‘first responders like nurses, firefighters, and EMTs’ – categories that include private workers.”
Crain’s announced it would no longer make political endorsements, but its editorial board sees Amendment 1 as a big enough threat that it made one last recommendation: “No” on Amendment 1. It did so because of the potential harm to Illinois’ business climate.
“In fact, it’s the very last thing this state needs. Bestowing special constitutional status on unions would give companies one more reason to avoid Illinois.”
This year, businesses such as Tyson, Citadel, Boeing, Caterpillar, FTX and Highland Ventures announced moves out of Illinois. McDonald’s restaurants said its headquarters’ future in Illinois is uncertain.
When Gov. J.B. Pritzker visited the Crain’s editorial board, he discussed impediments to businesses coming to Illinois. The state’s fiscal mess creating tax uncertainty and Chicago crime were on his list, but the editorial board had a third.
“Though Pritzker didn’t list it, there’s a third impediment – one the governor was eager to back away from in our Oct. 12 conversation. It’s the perception that labor runs the show in Illinois, making it costlier to do business here and nearly impossible to solve the biggest budgetary burden we face as a state – namely, the unfunded obligation of about $130 billion that every man, woman and child in this state owes to our public employee pension systems.”
They said passing Amendment 1 would be a major mistake. Two of their columnists came to the same conclusion.
“Unions should not be formulating general public policy at their headquarters. That’s the sacred mandate voters give to elected officials. And secretive union bosses could also use the amendment to keep government contracts out of the way of prying reporters whose job it is to tell you how your money is being spent.”
“Moreover, since the public sector also has to raise funds to cover its cost, the amendment seems likely to put pressure on property taxes and other sources of government revenues. We’ve not heard a viable counterargument to that. It certainly won’t reduce the size or expenses of government.”
“Since federal law generally protects collective bargaining within the private sector, the principal beneficiaries of the amendment are public-sector employees.”
“We recommend a ‘No’ vote on Amendment 1 because it is not needed and because unneeded Constitutional provisions unwisely tie the hands of the people’s representatives and the representatives of future generations to deal with problems we may not even foresee today.”
“The voters of 2022 ought not limit the rights of voters in 2072 or any other year to deal as they see fit with the challenges their era presents.”
“If there were a need for this amendment, we would be supportive. But there is no compelling need.”
“Aside from the policy straight jacket that would be put in place, the amendment suffers from the vice of vagueness. How far could its interpretation be extended? The courts would have to decide multiple issues in the ensuing explosion of litigation.”
“Under the amendment, employees could not just bargain over wages and conditions but ‘to protect their economic welfare.’ Since wages and working conditions are specifically mentioned in the proposed amendment, what does ‘protection of economic welfare’ mean?”
“This amendment is a masterpiece of obfuscation sailing under the banner of making Illinois a constitutionally-mandated non-right-to-work state. In other words, it’s a Trojan horse.”