Fact check: No other state constitution has a provision similar to Amendment 1

Mailee Smith

Staff Attorney and Director of Labor Policy

Mailee Smith
August 10, 2022

Fact check: No other state constitution has a provision similar to Amendment 1

Proponents of Amendment 1 claim other state constitutions include similar language, but that is just wrong. Amendment 1 would cement into the Illinois Constitution government union powers that no other state sees as smart.

When voters head to the polls Nov. 8, there is something they should know: Amendment 1, the first proposition on the ballot, is unlike any provision in any other state.

Similar to the progressive income tax amendment voters rejected in 2020, Amendment 1 is a constitutional amendment subject to voter approval that threatens new taxation.

Proponents have dubbed it a “Workers’ Rights Amendment” and claim it is similar to amendments in other states.

But not a single state constitution has an amendment as extreme as Amendment 1.

Amendment 1 does four things: 1) creates a “fundamental right” to unionize and bargain, on par with the freedoms of speech and religion; 2) expands bargaining beyond wages and benefits to include broad new subjects, including “economic welfare”; 3) prohibits lawmakers from enacting taxpayer- or business-friendly reforms; and 4) bans right to work.

No state constitution includes any of those provisions, let alone all four of them. That includes states frequently cited by proponents, such as Hawaii, Missouri and New York.

And that means Amendment 1 will give government union bosses in Illinois the most extreme powers in the nation.

The provisions in Hawaii, Missouri and New York are not similar to Amendment 1

Proponents of Amendment 1 tout Missouri, Hawaii and New York as examples of states with constitutional provisions similar to Amendment 1.

But a review of those state constitutions reveals that is not true:

  • None of them make unionization a “fundamental right.”
  • None of them enumerate which subjects can be bargained, let alone expand them beyond the traditional subjects of wages and benefits.
  • None of them limit lawmakers’ actions – and in fact, Hawaii even notes government employees have a right to bargain “as provided by law,” meaning the constitution allows lawmakers to act and provides deference to their decisions.
  • None prohibit right to work.

Hawaii, Art. XIII:

Private employees

Section 1. Persons in private employment shall have the right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Public employees

Section 2.

Persons in public employment shall have the right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining as provided by law.

Missouri, Art. 1, Sec. 29

Organized labor and collective bargaining – The employees shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.

New York, Art. 1, Sec. 17

Employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.

Amendment 1 would truly be a first-of-its-kind amendment in the nation.

Amendment 1 would grant government union leaders the most extreme powers in the nation

Most state constitutions don’t even mention labor. And those that do tend to provide limits on union power.

Illinois would buck the norm if Amendment 1 were passed.

Instead of limiting union power, it would limit the ability of lawmakers to govern. That would, in turn, take away taxpayers’ voice in state government.

Taxpayers are already at risk of a guaranteed $2,100 property tax hike resulting from Amendment 1 handing government union bosses greater bargaining powers.

Amendment 1 would even allow government unions to void over 350 state laws.

Guaranteeing this kind of union power through a constitutional protection would make it the most extreme constitutional provision in the nation. If 49 states see no need for such extreme protection for a special interest, why would Illinois?

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