Chicago Tribune Endorses NO Vote on Amendment 1

Written by John Lopez

On Monday morning of Columbus Day, the Chicago Tribune issued its first endorsement for the 2022 General Election, and it was a “No” vote on Amendment 1.

“We endorse a no vote.  We support the rights of unions to represent their members and to bargain collectively for the best deal they can secure.  But we do not see an Illinois threat to those rights, and we see this endorsement as an opening to skew the balance of power in the public sector to an unacceptable degree.”

The Tribune rightfully saw through the narrative of proponents, beginning with its euphemistic name “Workers’ Rights Amendment”:

“These days, the fight to pass bills and amendments typically begins with pithy — or, some might say, Orwellian — titles.  Everyone knows that the controversial SAFE-T Act would have been more honestly described as the End Cash Bail Act, but Democrats clearly decided that everyone likes safety and therefore that name might just hide some of the legitimate worries about whether the bill would result in more violent criminals out on the street.

“So it also goes with the so-called Workers’ Rights Amendment, as proposed to the Illinois Constitution.  The naming theory here is that every decent person supports the rights of hardworking Illinoisans and, therefore, voters will be more likely to vote in favor.”

The Tribune pointed out this basic premise that proponents want to see enshrined in the Constitution:

“Individual workers would not be able to choose whether or not they wanted to be a dues-paying member of a union if one was bargaining for them at their workplace. And there, of course, lies the rub. Or one rub among many. That prohibition, potentially enshrined in the Illinois Constitution, conflicts with our rights as free Illinoisans to make those decisions for ourselves.”

It gets worse, unfortunately. There are two other problems. Our friends at Illinois Policy Institute and Wirepoints have focused on the public sector unions and the tax increases that would be passed on to property owners to pay for this collective bargaining done outside of public view. And if this is not bad enough, Illinois Family Action notes another very real threat of Amendment 1 — worker classification, and union leaders trying to grow their membership at the expense of converting workers from independent contractors to employees.  The first word of Amendment 1 is “Employees,” and Illinois Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) made clear last year the wording is on purpose.

Because of these problems with Amendment 1, proponents have switched to a new tactic — vagueness. In this tweet with video of Amendment 1 proponent Joe Bowen, the communications director of Workers Rights Amendment political committee, addressed a question about future tax increases this way:

“We don’t have a crystal ball, so there is no way for anyone to predict what these negotiations are going to look like.”

Concerning Worker Classification, Bowen showed the same dodge at the Daily Herald-hosted joint editorial board session on September 29, and shared previously, with emphasis added:

“…this amendment applies to employer-employee relationships specifically.  It does not have any underlying impacts for independent contractors at the moment, but the Legislature would be able to revisit any laws that pertain to those folks at any time.”

Amendment 1 covers “Employees,” and the ways to expand the definition of an “employee” in the context of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is through Worker Classification.  Independent contractors are currently not covered under the NLRA. But if Amendment 1 is approved, one of three things can now happen to include them:

  1. The Illinois General Assembly passes California AB5 law with Worker Classification through ABC test or
  2. A “Protecting the Right to Organize” (PRO) Act is passed amending the NLRA change to define an employee with the ABC test or
  3. Biden changes the Fair Labor Standards Act rule with the ABC test for Worker Classification

To say the least, there’s a lot packed into Amendment 1. That’s why proponents are trying to keep the focus on the wording of Amendment 1 rather than the real potential impacts of Amendment 1. Hence, the union bosses are trying, to paraphrase a familiar saying, “…to follow the letter of the amendment without the intent of the amendment….” You see, the core mission of labor unions, collective bargaining and contract administration — those things are safely entrenched in law.  Amendment 1 goes after “economic welfare” and “safety” and, in essence, “everything else.”

The truth doesn’t stop proponents from their double-talk.  In fact, it aids and abets it. Take Illinois Economic Policy Institute’s (ILEPI) Grace Dunn, a research associate who co-authored ILEPI’s position paper in support of Amendment 1.  Dunn began an op-ed appearing in the Daily Herald citing, “71%…historically high share of Americans who support labor unions.”  The 71% was the result of a Gallup poll released in late August.  Something Dunn neglected to share from the same Gallup poll was the portion stating, “A majority of nonunion workers in the U.S. (58%) say they are ‘not interested at all’ in joining a union.”

As we enter the final four weeks of Election 2022, opponents of Amendment 1 must continue to challenge anyone who thinks all the constitutional amendment is about is “collective bargaining”.

Oh no. It’s about much, much more. It’s about tax increases and, most important, our freedoms!

Note from John Lopez:  The Illinois Economic Policy Institute tweeted a reply to me labeling my linkage of Amendment 1 to Worker Classification as “Misinformation”.  After support from friends and fellow freelancers, the ILEPI deleted their tweet, but enough people saw it, and moving forward, I will be screen capturing all hostile tweets on this topic.

John Lopez has written about policy and elections through the McHenry County Blog since 2019 through July 2021.  He is now semi-retired, and does freelance work with analytics, as well as political candidates, emphasizing policy as the means to advance the conservative message, by engaging through policy “dog fighting”, applying discernment for winning and advancing God’s Kingdom agenda.

John’s known for getting past the talking points, the narratives, the abstracts, the platitudes and the bromides in order to discuss policy and apply Scripture to overcome unholy divisions in the local community, our state, and nation.  John has been married for over 17 years.

Follow John on Twitter: @MarcVAvelar