Government unions claim Amendment 1 will ‘protect nurses’ after killing pro-nursing bill

Government unions claim Amendment 1 will ‘protect nurses’ after killing pro-nursing bill

The government unions pushing Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot in Illinois halted a popular, bipartisan bill that would have helped ease the nursing shortage made worse by the pandemic.

The same Illinois government unions now running TV ads to convince voters Amendment 1 “protects nurses” killed a bipartisan bill this spring in Springfield that would have brought more qualified nurses to Illinois.

Those government union bosses are now using the plight of over-burdened Illinois nurses and sick children to tell voters their unions need more power. The problem is, the state constitutional change they are pushing doesn’t impact private-sector nurses or other private employees – just the 7% of Illinois adults working for a state or local government. Federal law covers private employees and a state constitution cannot overrule federal law.

Unions already had the chance – and refused – to protect nurses in Illinois earlier this year. The bipartisan Senate Bill 2068 proposed Illinois join then-34 other states in a national compact that recognizes licenses for all nurses working in states that belong to the compact. The number of Nurse Licensure Compact states currently stands at 35, with two more about to join. Illinois already faced a shortage of nurses before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and SB 2068 would have allowed more nurses to come to Illinois and quickly help alleviate the state’s long-term shortage.

Yet after the bill was unanimously passed by the Senate Licensed Activities Committee, it did not receive another vote.

Who opposed the bill? The Illinois AFL-CIO, the Illinois Nurses Association, and the Chicago Federation of Labor, all of which publicly filed notices of opposition. Supporters of the bill greatly outnumbered these union interests, with nonprofit charities that care for the sick and elderly leading the call to make it easier for nurses to come to Illinois or travel with their patients outside the state. Government union bosses had the power where it counted.

They then filed support for a constitutional amendment which would strengthen government union power in Illinois. By pushing Amendment 1 – dubbed the “Workers’ Rights Amendment” by proponents – they are really supporting a radical change that would give union bosses even more power than they already have and cement union power in the state constitution – something no other state has seen as a smart move, and a protection no other special interest has warranted.

Illinois is already an outlier among its neighbors when it comes to granting government unions power through state statutes. If Amendment 1 passes, it would make government unions in Illinois more powerful than in any other state and give union leaders more power than state lawmakers – the people responsible for Illinois voters’ interests.

There is a stark difference between fighting for union members and fighting to preserve the power wielded by union bosses. Government unions put this difference on display when they showed up to support an amendment which would cement their power in the state constitution while ignoring the needs of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proponents of Amendment 1 claim voting yes this November will “protect the workers who protect us.” What it will really do is give government unions the ability to collectively bargain over essentially anything. If their every demand is not met, they could strike and state leaders would be powerless to stop them.

And that’s bad news for taxpayers. If voters approve the amendment on Nov. 8, property taxes for Illinois homeowners already suffering under the second-highest property tax burden in the nation will rise by over $2,100 more during the next four years – and that’s a conservative estimate.

Illinois residents and the representatives they elect need to remember this and stand up to special interests that work only to gather more power and special treatment. Power should not reside with any special interest. It should be wielded by Illinois taxpayers, including rank-and-file union members.

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