Amendment 1 would give teachers unions more power over Illinois schools, parents

Mailee Smith

Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith
February 25, 2022

Amendment 1 would give teachers unions more power over Illinois schools, parents

If voters pass Amendment 1 in November, it will give teachers unions unprecedented power over what happens in schools. That power could never be curbed.

Illinois’ largest teachers unions in the past two pandemic years have shown their priority is power, not students’ welfare or parents’ preferences.

The Chicago Teachers Union fought to prevent the reopening of schools and has kept kids out of the classroom. The Illinois Education Association, the state’ largest teachers union, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers have argued in court to keep all students in masks.

The message to parents is clear: union leaders think their preferred policies should overpower what parents think is best for their children. And parents have learned firsthand they don’t have representation at the bargaining table.

But the fight for control doesn’t end with COVID-19 policies. Teachers unions are also fighting to hold complete power over the people of Illinois.

Inaccurately dubbed a “workers’ rights amendment,” Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot would actually place multiple provisions into the Illinois Constitution allowing unions to demand virtually anything during negotiations. If voters agree, it would prohibit lawmakers from ever limiting what unions could demand or when they could strike.

Here’s how this plays out: unions will be able to demand anything during negotiations and go on strike to get their demands met. CTU has already pushed its social agenda on housing, immigration, “restorative justice,” wealth redistribution and defunding the police. Lawmakers would be unable to restrict what unions could negotiate, and powerless to limit when or how often union bosses could call a strike.

Any such restrictions aimed at protecting Illinoisans arguably would run afoul of Amendment 1 were it part of the state constitution.

What’s more, government union contracts would carry the weight of the Illinois Constitution. Government unions would be able to rewrite law through union contracts, and lawmakers’ hands would be tied, leaving voters powerless to hold anyone accountable.

No other state constitution includes any of these provisions, let alone all four of the proposed dictates which would give government unions in Illinois the most extreme powers in the nation.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers publicly registered support – twice – for Amendment 1 when it was before the Illinois General Assembly. CTU did the same.

The past two years have shown how teachers unions use the power they have in ways that don’t put students first. Imagine what they will do when they have complete power over an entire state.

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