Amendment 1 would drive up cost of government, meaning higher taxes

Mailee Smith

Staff Attorney and Director of Labor Policy

Mailee Smith
August 25, 2022

Amendment 1 would drive up cost of government, meaning higher taxes

Amendment 1 would allow government unions to make demands outside the normal scope of bargaining. Those demands would come at a cost – to taxpayers.

Amendment 1 is framed as a “Workers’ Rights Amendment” by supporters, but it would harm more Illinoisans’ lives and incomes than it could ever help.

While the amendment offers broadened protections to government workers – who make up just 7% of Illinois’ adult population – it will increase taxes on everyone.

That’s because Amendment 1 will drive up the cost of running government. The money for the increased costs must come from somewhere. That somewhere is taxpayers.

One conservative estimate is Amendment 1 could guarantee higher property taxes of more than $2,100 during the next four years. But property taxes are just one form of government revenue. Just since Gov. J.B. Pritzker took office, there have been 24 new taxes and fees implemented in Illinois that total over $5 billion.

No tax rate would be safe from the rising costs brought about by Amendment 1.

Government union contracts already cost taxpayers money. But Amendment 1 broadens the demands government unions could make beyond wages and benefits. Those increased demands mean government contracts would cost even more money.

And that means taxpayers would be stuck in an endless loop of higher government costs and rising taxes if Amendment 1 passes in November.

Government union contacts already cost taxpayers money

Government union contracts are funded by taxpayers. Expensive government contracts – such as those in the union bastion of Illinois – cost taxpayers even more.

Take the 2019 contract between Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools, which cost the typical Chicago homeowner at least $80 more per year in property taxes to cover the cost. Or the contract negotiated that same year between the state and AFSCME Council 31, which cost $3.6 billion more than what taxpayers would have paid under a taxpayer-friendly contract.

Research shows states with stronger government unions have more debt, and more debt means more taxes. That will be exacerbated in Illinois if Amendment 1 is enacted, because it broadens negotiations beyond the typical subjects of bargaining and will cost even more.

Amendment 1 broadens the demands government unions can make beyond wages and benefits

The right to negotiate in Illinois is already quite broad. Negotiations between the unions representing state and local government workers, including teachers, cover wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. Unlike most of our neighboring states, there are no limits to the wages and benefits government unions can demand.

But Amendment 1 expands bargaining to encompass broad new subjects, including “economic welfare” and “safety at work.” There is no definition or case law explaining what those terms mean. They could encompass virtually anything.

CTU has already tried to negotiate broad, non-traditional “economic” subjects into their contract with CPS, such as affordable housing. Boston Teachers Union recently took a note out of CTU’s playbook when it negotiated the creation of 4,000 units of housing for homeless students into its contract. While the provision may seem altruistic in nature, the creation of housing for students is not traditionally negotiated into teacher contracts, and it will cost taxpayers more.

More demands mean government union contracts will cost more money

The more that costly subjects are bargained into a contract, the more taxpayers must pay to meet those costs.

Amendment 1 also grants government unions a permanent right to strike. They can walk out on Illinois residents, denying them needed services if their demands aren’t met. Even if government leaders don’t want to cave to the demands of government union bosses, they will be at a significant disadvantage.

What’s more, bargaining over more subjects can take longer. Negotiations themselves also cost money, and the longer they last, the more money they cost.

Longer negotiations over more subjects also allow room for more disagreement – and therefore more opportunities for a union to go on strike and interfere with the day-to-day lives of Illinois’ nearly 13 million residents.

Taxpayers will be stuck in an endless loop of higher government costs and rising taxes

Bottom line: Amendment 1 would allow government unions to make demands outside the normal scope of bargaining – and those expanded demands would come at a cost.

That cost would be passed on the taxpayers.

The more expensive the demands and government costs over time, the more taxes must increase to pay for them.

That endless loop of unlimited union demands, higher government costs and rising taxes is likely why no other state has a similar amendment.

Illinois voters have a decision to make before Nov. 8. Either they can vote to fund the never-ending demands of government union bosses, or they can send a message by saying “no” to more tax increases in Illinois.

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