Illinois — Voters in Illinois have enshrined collective bargaining into the state constitution with the passage of Amendment 1 by a large margin. The voters of Illinois passed the amendment by a vote of 58% to 41% despite a robust opposition campaign that raised $1 million dollars to urge voters to cast a No vote.
The Amendment, which will now be part of the Illinois Constitution says:
“This amendment will protect workers’ and others’ safety. That includes guaranteeing nurses’ right to put patient care ahead of profit and making sure construction workers can speak up when there’s a safety issue. It will protect workers from being silenced when they call attention to food safety threats, shoddy construction, and other problems that could harm Illinoisans. This amendment protects firefighters and EMTs who put their lives on the line to protect Illinoisans. It means they get the training and safety equipment they need to do their jobs, and can speak out when they see a problem without fear of retaliation. This amendment will help our economy by putting more money in workers’ pockets who join together and get raises. That will mean more money going into our communities and small businesses as people join the middle class with good-paying jobs.”
Arguments made against the amendment included scare tactics that the Illinois economy would be negatively affected. Illinois is one of the few Free Bargaining states in the Midwest – as Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin have adopted so-called Right-to-Work laws over the past decade – However, Illinois has the largest GDP in the Midwest.
Illinois ranks 5th in the United States in terms of GDP with a Gross Domestic Product of $875,671 (in millions) while the only other Midwestern state to land in the top ten is Ohio which is also a Free Bargaining state.
What the passage of Amendment 1 will mean for the rest of the region is not yet known. However, with voters in Michigan giving Democrats control of the State Senate for the first time since 1984 and the State House for the first time since 2011, there are those who believe that Michigan’s 2012 Right-to-Work law – which prohibits free bargaining could be repealed.