CHICAGO - Illinois voters will decide Tuesday whether to amend their state constitution to guarantee the right to bargain collectively.
The fate of the ballot measure is being closely watched in Illinois and beyond, as it will gauge public support for the labor movement, which has lost ground for years in conservative-led states. Unions and pro-industry groups say it could signal a new chapter in the struggle over workers’ rights as U.S. union ranks have grown as everyone from coffee shop baristas to warehouse workers seeks to organize.
They view it as a way to ensure that workers will always be able to use their collective clout to secure better pay, hours and working conditions. They also say it would prevent the Legislature, should it undergo a shift to the right, from passing a so-called right-to-work law that would allow workers covered by union contracts to not pay dues.
Business groups and conservatives oppose the measure, saying they think it will drive up taxes, give unions too much power, lead to more strikes and prompt companies to leave for more industry-friendly states.
Union rights have taken a beating in Republican-led states in recent years. Twenty-seven states now have right-to-work laws.
The Illinois measure requires 60% of those voting on the question to vote "yes" for it to pass or 50% of all votes cast to be in favor of the question.