SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – A new poll conducted by WCIA, The Hill, and Emerson College shows a majority of voters support the Amendment 1, better known as the “Workers’ Rights Amendment.”
But it is still not enough to hit the 60% threshold needed for the measure to pass. The amendment can also pass without 60% voting in favor. If a simple majority of all of the ballots cast in the election – including ones where no vote was cast on the amendment – then it will still pass.
The amendment would enshrine the right to collectively bargain and organize, and negotiate hours, wages and working conditions in the Illinois Constitution.
According to the poll, 53.7% of voters plan to vote yes on the amendment, 29.8% said they plan to vote no, while 16.4% said they’re undecided.
If passed, the measure would prevent the state from passing right to work laws, or other laws that would hamper unions.
Both supporters and opponents of the amendment said they aren’t surprised by the poll results.
The AFL-CIO, one of the largest unions in the state, believes the amendment is vital to protecting unions in Illinois.
“Workers right now are really excited about the opportunity to go to the polls, and vote for themselves, vote for workers and worker’s rights in Illinois,” Pat Devaney, the secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO, said.
Illinois Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Todd Maisch said Illinois doesn’t need the amendment because federal protections that guarantee workers these rights already exist.
“They have federally guaranteed workers rights, and they will continue to have them whether this fails or passes,” Maisch said. “So that is completely subterfuge.”
Maisch also argued that if the amendments passes, it could raise property taxes
“[It] sets the stage for a constitutional amendment that will allow for the striking down of existing laws that limit the increases in property taxes,” Maisch said.
Maisch said that’s because the amendment is not just focused on negotiating wages, but also about the source of the wages. He echoed arguments from opponents that it would lead to higher property taxes.
The logic is that teacher’s unions would be able to go further than just argue for higher salaries. Maisch believes the amendment would allow unions to argue for higher property taxes so that districts would have more money to give to teachers.
“Property taxes that are already way, way too high, escalate even further,” Maisch said.
But Devaney called opponents of the amendment “desperate” adding that they are spreading false information about the measure to sway workers to “vote against their own self interest.”
“They can’t tell people what the real agenda is, and opposing this means that they’re against giving workers a voice, they’re against giving workers a seat at the table to negotiate over better pay, safer working conditions,” Devaney said. “They’d like to see pay suppressed. They want to take shortcuts to lessen safety in workplaces.”
Devaney said it’s important that the amendment passes to protect worker’s rights for the future.
“When you look at what we fought for and have been able to achieve in Illinois in terms of giving workers rights to a safer workplace, the ability to negotiate over pay, to protect that for future generations, our children, our grandchildren, is really important to working people,” Devaney said.
The poll also shows young voters support the amendment more than middle aged demographics. For voters ages 18 to 34, 80% said they will vote “yes” for the amendment. About 45% of voters between 35 and 64 years old said they would vote for it as well, and 55% of voters 65 and up will also support the measure.