Democrats advancing union protections amendment for state constitution | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – Measures in the Illinois House and Senate cued up for possible passage before the end of the month could ask voters to enshrine union protections in the state constitution.

State Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, has Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 11 making its way through the Senate.

“It proposes to amend the Illinois Constitution to provide that no law passes on or after the amendment’s enactment may prohibit the ability of workers to collectively bargain over wages, hours, terms and conditions,” Villivalam said during committee Wednesday.

The measure advanced out of committee without any debate.

If passed by the Senate, it would need to pass the House. A similar bill has been filed in the house. Voters would have the ultimate say in the 2022 statewide election.

State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, said unions have their place, but the amendment isn’t necessary.

“I like a level playing field,” Murphy told WMAY Thursday. “I don’t think that you just pigeonhole that you force somebody to do that.”

Murphy said he would rather see lawmakers approve an amendment for voters to consider a non-partisan map-making commission following the decennial Census.

State Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, said earlier this month such a measure would “bake” union protections into the state constitution.

“It will send a message to not only the state of Illinois, but send a message to the entire country that workers’ rights would be prioritized,” Evans said.

Evans’ House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 34 advanced out of committee Wednesday.

State Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, said there are no efforts in the state run by Democrats to take away union rights. He said instead of political messaging, lawmakers need to focus on the core problems of the state.

“The majority party kind of picks and chooses when they care what the voters have to say,” Plummer said. “Right now we’re going through the redistricting process and so much input from people across Illinois is being completely ignored by the majority party, yet they’re saying that they want this constitutional amendment because they pretend to care what the people of Illinois think on this issue.”

Opponents include the Illinois Municipal League, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, and 120 other individuals and groups. It’s supported by various unions like the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.

Proposed constitutional amendments need a three-fifths majority to pass either chamber.

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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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