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Illinois business groups oppose proposed amendment to enshrine collective bargaining rights

The Center Square

Labor groups support the proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would enshrine collective bargaining rights. Business groups are opposed.

Voters will see the question at the top of the ballot Nov. 8, asking to add collective bargaining rights to the state constitution. Labor groups are using millions of dollars in ads to promote the amendment, saying it will increase workers’ wages and job safety.

“When we all do better, it makes Illinois stronger,” the group Workers’ Rights Amendment says on their website. “This November, workers are on the ballot. Voting yes on the Workers’ Rights Amendment will update the Illinois constitution to guarantee every Illinoisan has the right to join together with other workers to negotiate for better pay, improved benefits, and safe working conditions.”

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President Mark Denzler opposes the measure, saying it will make it more difficult for businesses to operate in Illinois.

“And we don’t think you need to enshrine that in the constitution,” Denzler told The Center Square. “We’ve seen problems that the pension clause has created. Lawmakers can’t go back and make tweaks to it. We think this would be a mistake to enshrine this in the constitution as well.”

A 2011 law impacting pensions was struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court citing the constitutional protections against diminished benefits.

Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch is also against the measure for similar reasons

“It’s terrible and it will definitely lead to disinvestment or investment that will never come because we distinguish ourselves as anti-business yet again,” Maisch told WMAY.

Passage isn’t just bad for the state’s already challenged business climate, Maisch said. Parents will also be impacted where teachers may challenge work stoppage limits.

“So that as soon as ‘we don’t like an offer that comes from a school board, we can go straight to strike the next morning if we want to.’ Right now, that’s limited. It pumps the breaks. It’s a very deliberative process. That law could be out the door in no time.”

The amendment requires either a three-fifths majority of those voting on the measure, or a simple majority of all votes cast, to pass.

WGN, Emmerson College and The Hill released a poll showing support falling short of the 60% needed for approval.

Associate Editor Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.

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