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Illinois Workers' Rights Amendment

Members of the Chicago Federation of Labor show their support for the Illinois Workers' Rights Amendment. (Photo: Chicago Federation of Labor/Facebook)

'Workers Win' as Illinois Passes Pro-Labor Constitutional Amendment

"Workers' rights are now in our state constitution," the Chicago Federation of Labor cheered, "and now our right to negotiate safe working conditions and fair pay will never be taken away!"

Brett Wilkins

Labor advocates on Tuesday applauded the passage of an Illinois state constitutional amendment enshrining what one proponent called "the strongest worker protections in the nation."

"Illinois is and always will be a workers' rights state. This victory is a historic moment for our workers and our entire state."

With 100% of precincts reporting Tuesday—a week after Election Day—the Associated Press reported that the Workers' Rights Amendment had received 58% of the vote.

The amendment codifies "the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively." It further states that "no law shall be passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety."

Tim Drea, chair of the Vote Yes for Workers' Rights campaign, said in a statement that "the voters of Illinois sent a clear message by passing the Workers' Rights Amendment."

"Illinois is and always will be a workers' rights state," Drea added. "This victory is a historic moment for our workers and our entire state."

Labor and progressive groups, as well as a broad range of Democrats from Gov. J.B. Pritzker to U.S. Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García, backed the amendment, which was staunchly opposed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, and Republicans.

"Yes" campaign spokesperson Joe Bowen asserted that "being able to protect everyone's ability to step up and organize their workplace is a critical component to making sure everyone has access to some higher paying jobs and safer workplaces."

"Specifically, you've certainly seen a lot of abuses—Starbucks baristas or folks who might work at Amazon warehouses," he added. "But these historical examples have existed for generations and it's really important that we do what we can to secure these rights for Illinoisans."

The Chicago Federation of Labor hailed the amendment's passage as "a win for every single working class individual in Illinois."

"Workers' rights are now in our state constitution," the organization tweeted. "We are proud of every single worker in Illinois who chose to vote for themselves on Nov. 8. WE are what makes Illinois great, and now OUR right to negotiate safe working conditions and fair pay will never be taken away!"

It was a good election for workers' rights, with voters in several states and cities saying employees—including those who earn tipsshould be paid more. A measure that would pay medical workers in one California city $25 an hour is also expected to pass.


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