Opponents say proposed Illinois amendment would give public unions more power

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By Joseph Smith

Andrew Hensel, The Center Square – Washington Examiner – Sunday, August 22, 2021

A new proposed amendment on the 2022 ballot by the Illinois General Assembly would allow public employee unions to bargain without legal consequences.

Filed by state Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, the amendment was then passed by the Illinois General Assembly and goes into effect if passed by a vote during the November 8th, 2022 general election.
Proponents of the amendment have framed it as a right-to-work ban, but labor expert Mailee Smith, with the Illinois Policy Institute, said there is more to it.

“The majority of this amendment has to do with giving unchecked control to government union leaders,” Smith said. “Only a small portion of this amendment has anything to do with the right-to-work.”
The amendment could improve the ability of public-sector unions to strike, keep children out of public school classrooms and potentially increase taxes.

Smith mentioned that because of the union’s ability to negotiate with no restraints, taxpayers could be faced with higher taxes and higher costs.
“Because government union leaders will be able to negotiate over anything they are going to demand all sorts of things in these contracts,” Smith said. “That will inherently drive up costs for the taxpayer.”

One of the main issues Smith finds in this amendment is that these unions will now have no legal consequences while bargaining. Unions would be able to bypass any legislation that could prohibit someone from working in that union.
“The General Assembly could pass a law mandating a certain level of background check for school bus drivers, or disciplinary procedures for teacher misconduct,” Smith said. “Given that unions could challenge such laws as violating workers’ constitutional right to bargain the amendment could potentially prevent such statutes from taking effect.”

After being passed by the Illinois General Assembly, the amendment will now go a vote. The vote will be on Nov. 8, 2022, during the general election.
State Sen. Ram Villivalam did not return a message for comment on the measure, but has previously said it would protect unions.

“Workers in all industries should have the right to organize and bargain for better wages and conditions,” Villivalam said in a statement. “Illinois is one of the last bastions of the labor movement, and we must act to preserve and protect it.”
He said amendment would require that no law passed could prohibit the ability of workers to collectively bargain over wages, hours, terms and conditions of work. He also said the measure would effectively ban “Right to Work” laws in Illinois, which prohibit union security agreements in which an employer and a labor union agree on the extent to which employees are compelled to pay for the administering of collective bargaining.
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