Amendment 1 would permanently enshrine Madigan union deals in Illinois Constitution
Amendment 1 would permanently write indicted former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s public union deals into the state constitution. If passed, neither lawmakers nor voters could ever change them.
Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan faces a corruption indictment stating he traded political favors for his cronies getting cash, but the allegations are too familiar to Illinoisans. For decades they saw Madigan build up public employee union power, as those unions built up Madigan’s campaign funds.
Over 26 years, Madigan-controlled campaign funds saw $10 million in donations from Illinois government unions. They got decades of pro-union legislation and a public pension system so generous that just the unfunded debt grew 753% under Madigan’s leadership, to $140 billion in 2020.
Those emboldened and empowered Illinois government unions are not finished with taxpayers. Now they want Amendment 1, a proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot to enshrine union power in the Illinois Constitution and keep Madigan-style deals from ever being undone.
So how did it all start? In 1983, Madigan’s first year as speaker, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Under Madigan’s leadership, unions pushed lawmakers to pass both pieces of legislation, which mandated collective bargaining for public employees and gave them the power to strike – a power few states allow and something labor and political leaders advised against.
George Meany, the first president of the AFL-CIO, said public unions should be excluded from collective bargaining. Meany said “it is impossible to collectively bargain with the government.”
Before Meany, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said public employees were unique in that they were employed by taxpayers.
“All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” Roosevelt wrote.
States neighboring Illinois saw the merit of those labor and government leaders’ words. All of Illinois’ neighbor states, plus Michigan, prohibit all or most government employees from going on strike.
Under Madigan’s leadership, labor legislation in Illinois only passed if it expanded union powers. The unions rewarded him with that $10 million he used to keep other lawmakers and even governors under his control.
For example, Senate Bill 1784 passed into law in 2019. The bill gave unions unprecedented access to personal information such as cell phone numbers and email addresses of all government employees, even ones who weren’t union members.
Even though Madigan’s been out of office for over a year and is now indicted in a federal corruption probe, unions could replace his corrupt path to power with a legal one: get Amendment 1 put into the Illinois Constitution.
The amendment would cement four new provisions into the constitution that no other state has. It would give unions a permanent right to collective bargaining over not just benefits, but any topic they choose – a power the Chicago Teachers Union has tried to wield to pursue its social agenda on housing, immigration, “restorative justice,” wealth redistribution and defunding the police.
Union contracts would carry the weight of the constitution, overriding state laws. What’s most dangerous about Amendment 1 is that if passed, it can never be limited or altered, even if every lawmaker and voter in the state agreed it needed changing.
Voters have a choice Nov. 8: let Madigan’s legacy continue through Amendment 1, or protect themselves from more of the income and property tax hikes driven by the over-generous political favors granted Illinois’ government unions.