November 7, 2022

Proposed constitutional amendment would expand government unions' extreme power in Illinois


CONTACT: Melanie Krakauer (312) 607-4977

Five facts about Amendment 1 before Election Day 
Proposed constitutional amendment would expand government unions’ extreme power in Illinois

CHICAGO (Nov. 7, 2022) – When Illinois voters tomorrow decide Amendment 1, the proposed change to the Illinois Constitution at the top of the ballot, they’ll be deciding whether the state that already has the most extreme labor laws in the nation should go farther yet.

According to an Illinois Policy Institute analysis of all 50 states, no other state grants such broad power for government union contracts to override state and local laws. Amendment 1 would expand that so all government union contracts permanently carry more weight than state law. That opens over 350 state laws, including laws designed to protect Illinois children, to essentially be rewritten through government union negotiations.

Amendment 1 does this by granting government union bosses power to go beyond traditional bargaining subjects, such as wages and benefits. It adds “economic welfare,” a broad term, not used in any other state constitution.

“Amendment 1 isn’t necessary to protect Illinois’ state and local government workers; they are already well protected,” said Mailee Smith, staff attorney and director of labor policy at the Illinois Policy Institute. “Instead, Amendment 1 is a power play by government union leaders. Rather than going through the legislative process to enact change, as regular Illinoisans must do, government unions would be able to make political demands at the bargaining table. Then, they’d have a permanent power to go on strike to get those demands met.”

5 things to know about Amendment 1:

1. Illinois already maintains the broadest labor laws in the nation.
Illinois government workers already are backed by the most powerful labor laws in the country. That doesn’t change if voters reject Amendment 1.

2. Ilinois is an outlier compared to every other state.
Many states explicitly prohibit union contracts from trumping state and local laws, as compared to Illinois’ Amendment 1 allowing them to.

3. No other state has a law like Amendment 1.
Not a single state constitution has an amendment as extreme as Amendment 1. Despite proponent claims, the constitutional provisions in Hawaii, Missouri and New York are not similar to Amendment 1 because they do not expand the subjects of bargaining beyond wages and benefits or prohibit lawmakers from making changes to labor laws.

4. Amendment 1 would allow government union contracts to trump state law and could lead to 350 laws being overridden.
Contract negotiations could allow for changes in state law such as removing background checks for government employees who work with children, preventing advancements in technology or pro-taxpayer reforms, and hiding government union contracts from the public.

5. The amendment would apply new rights to government unions only, not “all employees.”
The language of Amendment 1 claims to give any employee – from either private businesses or government – a “fundamental right” to engage in collective bargaining. But the National Labor Relations Act governs private-sector collective bargaining nationwide and preempts state laws that would attempt to do so. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled states cannot regulate private-sector union issues. Amendment 1’s Illinois Senate sponsor also said the same thing.

To learn more about how Amendment 1 could hurt Illinois, visit

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