Illinois’ midterm general election has been certified, as has the amendment to the state’s constitution prohibiting local and state regulations on what can be collectively bargained.
The Illinois State Board of Elections Monday approved the official canvas of vote totals from the Nov. 8 election. More than 4.1 million people cast ballots with a voter turnout of just over 51%. That’s the fourth lowest midterm turnout in the past 40 years, the board said.
The proposed labor amendment to Illinois’ constitution codifying collective bargaining also passed. Final numbers show 58.72% of those voting on the question approved, falling short of the 60% needed. But, the question did pass, getting 53.42% of all votes cast in the election.
The language of the question adds a new section to Illinois’ Bill of Rights to “guarantee workers the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively and to negotiate wage, hours, and working conditions, and to promote their economic welfare and safety at work.”
Sponsor of the question state Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, told The Center Square last week in anticipation of the affirmative outcome that it’s a win for labor.
“I think we can finally have an opportunity to turn the page and move forward and acknowledge that we believe in workers’ rights, we believe in their ability to collectively bargain over their wages, their working conditions, their benefits,” Villivalam said.
The workers’ rights case Janus v. AFSCME from Illinois involving a state worker challenging forced dues to a union as a condition of employment was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. The court prohibited forced unionization for public sector employees.
In previous years, other states have opted to become right-to-work states where workers have a right to not be forced into a union as a condition of employment. Villivalam said passage of Amendment 1 in Illinois lays that debate to rest.
“We’ve had robust discussions about right-to-work zones and banning right to work. I think those issues are now put to bed with the voters having spoken,” he said.
Opponents of the measure warned the change will cause increased labor costs for local units of government, leading to tax increases.
Illinois Policy staff attorney Mailee Smith said the amendment puts local governments in a difficult spot when negotiating with labor unions. She said local police unions can now negotiate things that run contrary to state law, like police regulations found in the SAFE-T Act.
“That doesn’t have to be done legislatively, that can be done with a collective bargaining agreement and that collective bargaining agreement basically trumps state law,” she said.
The final election tally also shows Democrats sweeping all statewide offices.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth got nearly 2.33 million votes, winning that race with 56.8% of the vote. Gov. J.B. Pritzker won reelection with 2.25 million votes, or 54.9%. Attorney General Kwame Raoul got 2.21 million votes, winning that three-way race with 54.35% of the vote. In the open secretary of state seat, Alexi Giannoulias garnered 2.22 million votes with 54.28% in that race. Treasurer Michael Frerichs won reelection with 2.2 million, or 54.29% of the vote.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza was the largest vote getter of statewide officeholders, winning reelection with more than 2.33 million votes, or 57.08% of the vote.
Other statistics certified by the state elections board Monday showed more than 39% of the ballots cast were before election day, with about 18% by mail and 21% early and in person.
Illinois Radio Network