Workers Rights Amendment supporters declare victory, ‘no’ votes say count isn’t over

‘Yes’ votes lag behind needed 60% approval rate at around 58%
A sign supporting passage of Amendment 1, also known as the collective bargaining amendment for...
A sign supporting passage of Amendment 1, also known as the collective bargaining amendment for Illinois' Constitution.(WEEK)
Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 4:45 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - There were several ballot questions that split voters locally, but both sides on a state Constitutional amendment are split on whether or not the race is decided.

On the union side, advocates for the amendment are declaring victory. The AFL-CIO released a celebratory statement for the passage of the amendment.

“Illinoisans put working people first by enshrining the right to organize and collectively bargain in our state constitution,” the statement reads. “This would not have been possible without the strong solidarity of a statewide labor movement that came together in unison to protect the rights of our hard-working families.”

The amendment, as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, was not at the 60% threshold necessary to pass. However, there is a backdoor option for passing constitutional amendments. They must either reach a simple 60% approval rate from the voters or receive a majority approval from all voters in the election.

That sounds the same, but there is a key difference. The 60% approval rating only counts those who chose to answer the ballot question, the majority from all voters includes those who may have skipped the measure on their ballot.

Finding out where the votes finally lie will take time as votes are officially processed and recorded. Anders Lindall of AFSCME Council 31 said they’ve seen the numbers and still believe the amendment is passed in the state.

“We firmly believe the voters have spoken, and the Workers Rights Amendment is being added to our constitution,” Lindall said, “and that’s a great thing.”

The movement in opposition to the amendment was led by the conservative Illinois Policy Institute, based in Chicago and Springfield. The IPI claimed the amendment would raise property taxes in the state, which is something not mentioned in the amendment’s language. The logic was an increase in collective bargaining would increase the cost of government. In order to cover that cost, the state would then raise property taxes.

That is not a proven assertion. IPI said they aren’t considering the race over and done. They’re waiting to see how the final count plays out.

Director of Labor Policy Mailee Smith said it’s “encouraging” to see how close the results are.

“The numbers that we’re seeing now show how much the ‘vote no’ side was able to close that gap,” Smith said. In regards to what steps they plan to take if the amendment does pass officially, Smith said they were waiting to see the results.

“I would expect to see some litigation, particularly from the private sector,” Smith said. She continued that the private sector feels the amendment violates the US Constitution and interferes with collective bargaining rights already established in federal law.

Lindall of AFSCME 31 said the amendment is meant to codify those workers’ rights and protection into the state constitution to prevent future policies or procedures that interfere with an ability to bargain. As it stands now, the amendment does not allow for any law to be passed infringing on collective bargaining rights. Any change like that would have to also come in the form of a constitutional amendment.