‘Workers’ Rights Amendment’ would hike workers’ property taxes by $2,100

Mailee Smith

Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith
July 31, 2022

‘Workers’ Rights Amendment’ would hike workers’ property taxes by $2,100

Despite proponents’ claims, Amendment 1 would give union rights only to state and local government workers – who make up just 7% of Illinois adults. It would give $2,100 property tax hikes to everyone.

Proponents of Amendment 1, also known as the “Workers’ Rights Amendment,” misleadingly claim it will guarantee “every Illinoisan” the right to unionize and bargain. In fact, they insist the amendment “protects all Illinoisans, on the job and off.”

Those statements are wrong. Amendment 1 cannot do what backers claim it will do.

The state, even by changing the Illinois Constitution, cannot grant bargaining rights to employees in the private sector. Only the federal government can do that.

That means the rights granted under Amendment 1 would apply only to government workers, who make up just 7% of Illinoisans aged 18 and over.

So what will Amendment 1 do for workers in the private sector?

It will raise their property taxes over $2,100 – and that’s a conservative estimate.

Voters will be asked to decide Nov. 8 whether Amendment 1 should become part of the Illinois Constitution.

The majority of Illinois workers gain no rights under Amendment 1

The language in Amendment 1 applies to all “employees” in Illinois – both in the private and public sectors.

But the National Labor Relations Act governs private-sector collective bargaining nationwide. Anytime the federal government occupies a space, it preempts state laws that would attempt to do so.

Because the federal government already regulates collective bargaining in the private sector, Illinois cannot do so through Amendment 1.

There are about 719,000 public-sector workers in Illinois, accounting for just 7% of the adult population. Some of those are federal workers, who also are not covered by Illinois law.

And that means the vast majority of workers in Illinois would not obtain any new rights under Amendment 1.

While the amendment would grant rights to relatively few workers in Illinois, all taxpayers would be forced to pay for the expensive government contracts it generates.

Amendment 1 guarantees a $2,100 property tax hike

Amendment 1 would guarantee the average family pays at least $2,149 in higher property tax bills during the next four years, no matter which politicians win this November or how well they try to follow through on any campaign promises to ease Illinoisans’ tax burdens.

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.

The amendment includes multiple provisions that would hand control of the state over to unelected government union leaders. It would allow those union leaders to demand virtually anything in negotiations, maintain a permanent right to strike to get those demands met and even allow unions to void state laws they don’t like by writing contrary provisions into union contracts.

In fact, it would give union bosses the most extreme powers in the nation.

Illinois’ property taxes are already the second-highest in the nation and a major reason taxpayers are fleeing to lower-tax states.

If Illinoisans are to have any hope of property tax relief, Amendment 1 would be a good way to kill that hope.

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