Labor Amendment Lawsuit Heard in County Court

May 26, 2022

This article by Andrew Hensel was published May 25, 2022 on

(The Center Square) – A Sangamon County Circuit Court judge heard arguments in a case that seeks to block an amendment to the Illinois state constitution from appearing on the ballot in the November election.

The Illinois Right to Collective Bargaining Amendment, also known as Amendment 1, was approved in May 2021 with the passage of Senate Joint Constitutional Amendment 11 for the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot.

If approved by voters, it would give any employee from either private businesses or the government the fundamental right to engage in collective bargaining for various reasons.

The lawsuit was filed by The Liberty Justice Center on behalf of Sara Sachen, a parent of a Chicago Public Schools student.

“In the past 10 years, the Chicago Teachers Union has walked out five times over affordable housing, mental health and other bargaining terms that were not wages and hours,” the Liberty Justice Center said in a statement.

The lawsuit maintains that Amendment 1 will enshrine union powers in the Illinois Constitution, making it impossible for lawmakers to curb union powers and giving union contracts more weight than state law.

Mailee Smith of the Illinois Policy Institute explained where the challenge is at in the court system.

“There was a hearing in Sangamon County on Friday, May 20th, and the judge did not issue a decision but did say she would be issuing a decision by the week of May 23rd,” Smith said.

The LJC and the IPI are looking to remove the amendment from the ballot, arguing it is unconstitutional. They say the National Labor Relations Act governs private-sector collective bargaining nationwide, which preempts state laws that would attempt to do so.

“What the state is arguing is that while other amendments have been removed from the ballot in the past, it was because their structure wasn’t quite right,” Smith said. “They differentiate what is going on with Amendment 1 with these previous cases.”

Unions and Democratic lawmakers have pushed for the “Workers’ Rights Amendment,” and got the Illinois General Assembly in 2021 to put it on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. State Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, said last year that with Amendment 1, Illinois has a chance to be a leader in the nation.

“We see many laws that are continuously pushed throughout this country, but today we have an opportunity in the state of Illinois to be leaders by passing this amendment,” he said.

State Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, has previously said if approved by voters, the amendment will help union workers that have been earning less.

“The falling rate of unionization has lowered wages, not only because some workers no longer received the higher union wage, but also because there is less pressure on nonunion employers to raise wages,” Villivalam said.

Smith said that if they can block Amendment 1 from the ballot, Illinois citizens would be the winners.

“If the Illinois Policy Institute and the Liberty Justice Center win this case, that would be a win for the people of Illinois,” Smith said. “It would mean that our General Assembly has not put an unconstitutional ballot initiative on the November ballot.”

A decision is expected to be handed down sometime this week.

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