CHARLESTON, Ill., (WCIA) — On election day, the first thing you’ll see on the top of your ballot is a question regarding workers’ rights.
In Charleston on Sunday, dozens from the Coles County democrat group and Coles Progressive group gathered to voice their opinions about the proposed Workers’ Rights Amendment.
The amendment would add a new section to the state’s Bill of Rights. It says:
Employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work. 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 work place safety, including any law or ordinance that prohibits the execution or application of agreements between employers and labor organizations that represent employees requiring membership in an organization as a condition of employment.
Betsy Jewell, an academic advisor at Eastern Illinois University, is a part of a union herself.
“I’m a very strong supporter of unions, I think they’re very important to helping us,” she said.
She said her union helped her when she needed medical leave.
“Business leaders or a private industry can’t come in and say ‘nope, we’re not gonna allow unions to start here,’ so it’s just a protection for that,” Jewell said.
She added that she feels the amendment will keep unionized employees safe but also feels it’s important even if you’re not a member of a union.
“Your children or your grandchildren may need those protections, so, putting those in place now is why it’s so important,” she said.
Vivian Robinson, the State’s Central Committeewoman for the 12th Congressional District, said she has experienced challenges in non-unionized workplaces first-hand.
“We sat in this hot building and it was over 100 degrees. The older ladies would pass out from heat exhaustion, and they would take them in the superintendent’s office with air conditioning,” Robinson said.
She doesn’t want it happening to anyone else, which is why she said she’s voting “yes.”
No one showed up in opposition to workers’ rights at Sunday’s rally in Charleston, but WGN Chicago spoke to Austin Berg with the Illinois Policy Institute a few weeks ago.
Berg said if the amendment is passed, it would give the government too much power and believes taxpayers will feel it.
“There are millions of Illinois homeowners who are paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation,” he said. “Now, why are those property taxes so high? That really gets to the heart of this amendment.”
He went on to say property taxes are so high because of deals between union leaders and politicians over collective bargaining agreements.
“The unions don’t have anything to do with property taxes,” she said.
To pass the amendment, 60% of people would have to vote yes, or the majority of voters. Election day is Nov. 8.