Amendment 1 vote too close to call
Votes were still being counted on Amendment 1, but the vote was very close. If approved, the change to the Illinois Constitution would expand collective bargaining powers just for government unions.
An amendment to the Illinois Constitution to cement and expand powers for government unions was slightly ahead, but too close to call Nov. 9.
Amendment 1 totals showed 51.7% “yes” to 36.3% “no” of the total vote, and 58.7% “yes” to 41.3% “no” on the question, in unofficial totals with 87 of 108 election authorities reporting as of 11:30 a.m., Nov. 9. The Chicago Tribune was reporting the Vote Yes for Workers’ Rights group as claiming a victory, but Illinois allows two weeks for mail-in ballots to be received and final totals could be days away with 21 election authorities yet to report any tallies.
The margin was narrow. The Illinois Constitution declares an amendment as passed if either a simple majority of those voting on the question, or 60% of all voters in the election approve the question. Early returns showed Amendment 1 as passing with a simple majority of 1.7%, but failing in the total count by 1.3%. Both margins were too close to call.
Government workers in Illinois already have the right to unionize and collectively bargain for wages, hours and working conditions. They have some of the strongest labor rights in the nation.
But Amendment 1 would add “economic welfare” and “safety at work” as subjects, which lawmakers haven’t defined and isn’t mentioned in any other state constitution. The definitions and other issues are expected to be decided by the courts, but could take years to litigate.
Illinois Policy Institute President Matt Paprocki said taxpayers need to guard against tax increases and demand property tax reform regardless of the outcome.
“Government union bosses and special interest lobbyists spent more than $15 million to spread a disingenuous message that Amendment 1 was about improving ‘workers’ rights’ without any added costs to taxpayers. They tried to sneak a hidden tax hike by voters. The fact that the vote is too close to call right now speaks to Illinoisans’ distrust in enshrining costly new provisions into the constitution that could handcuff them for years to come,” Paprocki said.
Misleading ads featured private sector workers praising the potential effects from Amendment 1, but it would benefit almost no workers in the private sector. State Sen. Ram Villivalam, a sponsor of the amendment, made that clear in an Illinois Senate debate.
“Therefore, as federal law stands today, labor – excuse me, therefore, as federal labor law stands today, the Amendment could not apply to the private sector,” Villivalam said.
Private-sector workers would be required to fund added benefits for government unions, though. Illinois is on pace to add $2,149 in property taxes per household during the next four years. Amendment 1 is expected to thwart efforts to curb that increase, and could accelerate it.
Unless lawmakers make property tax relief a high priority when they return Nov. 15 to Springfield, Illinois is locked into a 5-year streak of having the nation’s No. 2 property tax rate, which is double the national average. Illinoisans need property tax relief.