Get the facts: Amendment 1 study guide

Mailee Smith

Staff Attorney and Director of Labor Policy

Mailee Smith

Bryce Hill

Director of Fiscal and Economic Research

Bryce Hill
August 26, 2022

Get the facts: Amendment 1 study guide

The so-called “Workers’ Rights Amendment” would lead to substantial tax increases for working Illinoisans and small business owners.

The No. 1 priority of Illinois’ government unions in 2022 is to pass an amendment to the Illinois Constitution in November. They’ve branded the constitutional question as the “Workers’ Rights Amendment,” and they’re spending millions of dollars on misleading TV ads to promote it.

But Illinois voters won’t see the words “Workers’ Rights Amendment” at the top of the ballot. Instead, they’ll see a question labeled “Proposed Amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution.” That’s Amendment 1. 

Illinois Policy Institute research shows, if approved, Amendment 1 would:

How will amendment 1 affect your property tax bill?

Enter your county and home value above
If Illinois voters pass Amendment 1 in November, you can expect to pay in higher property taxes over the next four years.

This tool uses compound annual growth rates in the All-Transactions House Price Index by the Federal Housing Finance Agency for Illinois counties from 2010-2021 to project future home values through 2026. To project property tax bills through 2026, the tool uses the compounded annual growth rate in median property tax rates for Illinois counties, calculated using 1-year and 5-year U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey estimates from 2010-2020.

The plain text of Amendment 1 does four things: 

  1. Creates a “fundamental right” for government workers to unionize and bargain, on par with the freedoms of speech and religion.
  2. Expands bargaining for government worker unions beyond wages and benefits to include broad new subjects, including “economic welfare.”
  3. Prohibits state and local lawmakers from passing taxpayer-friendly reforms, such as limits to the length of government union contracts or improved disciplinary measures for misconduct.
  4. Bans right to work, a policy that would prevent workers from being fired for refusing to pay money to a union.

Examined one by one, these elements show the amendment is much broader than proponents are claiming. Here’s everything Illinoisans need to know about Amendment 1:

Amendment 1 would guarantee higher taxes and debt in Illinois

Property tax calculator: How much will Amendment 1 cost you?

See how much more you can expect to pay in property taxes if the first question atop Illinois’ ballot passes Nov. 8.

Amendment 1 would guarantee $2,100 property tax hike on the typical Illinois family

Amendment 1 would guarantee that the typical Illinois family pays at least $2,149 in higher property tax bills over the next four years, no matter which politicians hold office or whether they follow through on their campaign promises. This is a conservative estimate, assuming the rapid growth of Illinois’ property tax burden holds steady. It’s likely property taxes would grow at an even faster rate, because Amendment 1 would give Illinois government unions unprecedented bargaining powers that don’t exist in any other state. Exactly how much faster is an open question.

Illinois retiree: Amendment 1 could cost me my home

Amendment 1 would prevent commonsense reforms to reduce homeowners’ tax burdens while giving government union leaders virtually limitless new ways to demand higher costs from taxpayers. If it passes, Illinois’ trend of large annual property tax increases will likely grow faster than ever.

Amendment 1 would worsen Illinois’ reputation as one of the worst states in the nation for small businesses

What Illinois businesses need to know about Amendment 1

Amendment 1 would enshrine permanent power for government unions in the state constitution, which could mean higher taxes, higher costs and potentially costly litigation for business owners.

Amendment 1 could make bad Illinois business climate worse

A Rockford family and their trucking business are being driven out of Illinois by high taxes and bad public policies. If voters agree Nov. 8 to enshrining public union power in the Illinois Constitution, expect more businesses and workers to leave.

Illinois small business owners brace for higher taxes under Amendment 1

New business taxes added by the Pritzker administration plus Illinois’ high property taxes are making it hard for a Chicago-area bar owner to stay in business. Now a government union push for more property taxes is creating a new threat.

Amendment 1 would allow government union leaders to override more than 350 existing Illinois laws

Above the law: Amendment 1 would let government unions void over 350 Illinois laws

Contracts created under Amendment 1 will carry the weight of the constitution, allowing government unions to override state laws. If union leaders don’t like a specific state provision – such as background checks for government workers – they can simply contradict the law in the union contract. Whatever language is in the union contract wins out.

Amendment 1 would allow secret government contracts

Government union contracts could void the state’s Freedom of Information Act provision requiring the final contract between a government unit and the union representing its employees be subject to inspection and copying, simply by including a provision in the contract prohibiting public access.

38 provisions in Illinois School Code could be undermined by Amendment 1

Government union bosses would have the power to override the provisions related to safety of Illinois school children, including qualifications of teachers and licensure.

Amendment 1 could undermine 11 DCFS provisions aimed at protecting children

Government union bosses would have the power to void at least 11 different provisions in the Children and Family Services Act, including mandatory background checks for DCFS workers and employment bans on adults deemed “sexually dangerous” by the state.

Has Amendment 1 been tried anywhere else? 

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

No other state constitution in the nation includes any of the four provisions in Amendment 1, let alone all of them. That includes Hawaii, Missouri and New York, often inaccurately portrayed by Amendment 1 proponents as having similar amendments.

Amendment 1 would give Illinois government union bosses nation’s most extreme powers

No other state constitutions guarantee unmitigated powers to government unions, and 28 state constitutions don’t even find a need to mention labor. That means Amendment 1 will give government union bosses in Illinois the most extreme powers in the nation. 

Who supports Amendment 1?

Organizations who filed witness slips in support of the constitutional amendment in the Illinois General Assembly, or have given money to the ballot initiative, include:

  • AFSCME Council 31
  • Chicago Teachers Union
  • Illinois AFL-CIO
  • Illinois Federation of Teachers
  • Illinois Pipe Trades Association
  • SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana
  • Teamsters Joint Council 25

Who opposes Amendment 1?

Organizations who filed witness slips opposing the constitutional amendment in the Illinois General Assembly include:

  • Associated Builders & Contractors
  • Illinois Association of School Boards
  • Illinois Chamber of Commerce
  • Illinois Manufacturers' Association
  • Illinois Municipal League
  • National Federation of Independent Business
  • Technology & Manufacturing Association

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