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Labor-backed group’s report claims Workers’ Rights Amendment would boost incomes and improve working conditions

Friday, Aug 12, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* WBEZ

Researchers from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say the Illinois Right to Collective Bargaining Amendment, better known as the Workers’ Rights Amendment — which will be put to voters in the November 2022 election — would boost incomes and improve working conditions for workers, as well as better the state’s economy. […]

“The data shows that the Workers’ Rights Amendment would protect Illinois’ competitive advantage for essential workers,” said Frank Manzo IV, executive director for the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and one of the report’s authors. “Construction workers, police officers, first responders, teachers, registered nurses all earn between 5% and 35% more in Illinois, and they’re also more likely to have health insurance and to own their homes in Illinois.”

The report also says union workers are less likely to live in poverty and rely on public aid than their non-union counterparts. Union workers also contribute 8% more to state income taxes, according to the report.

An amendment that gives workers the right to unionize, researchers said, would also secure the state’s labor force in a time where the U.S. is experiencing worker shortages in many sectors.

The IEPI board of directors is here.

* From the report

The Workers’ Rights Amendment would prevent the passage of a state law or local ordinance “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 workplace safety.”

The Workers’ Rights Amendment would support collective bargaining and the ability of workers to organize and join unions. Union workers in Illinois:

    • Earn 14 percent more and are 9 percent more likely to have health insurance coverage.
    • Are 3 percent less likely to be below poverty, 3 percent less likely to rely on Medicaid, and 2 percent less likely to rely on food stamp government assistance.
    • Contribute 8 percent more in state income taxes, after credits and deductions.

By protecting the right to collectively bargain, the Workers’ Rights Amendment would be good for the economy. By preventing Illinois’ labor market from deteriorating, the Amendment would:

    • Protect $43 billion in annual income for Illinois workers and ensure workers can negotiate pay raises that help deal with high inflation.
    • Ensure that 281,000 Illinois workers would not lose their health insurance coverage.
    • Prevent 135,000 Illinois workers from suffering pay cuts that cause them to lose their homes.
    • Keep 70,000 Illinois workers from falling below the federal poverty line.
    • Promote safe workplaces and save 900 lives over a decade, because Illinois experiences 32 percent fewer on-the-job fatalities than states that do not support collective bargaining.

The Workers’ Rights Amendment would protect essential workers. Compared to their counterparts in states that do not support collective bargaining, in Illinois:

    • Blue-collar construction workers earn 35 percent more, are 17 percent more likely to have health insurance coverage, and are 12 percent more likely to own their homes.
    • Police officers, firefighters, and first responders earn 31 percent more, are 1 percent more likely to have health insurance coverage, and are 7 percent more likely to own their homes.
    • Pre-K through high school teachers earn 22 percent more, are 2 percent more likely to have health insurance coverage, and are 4 percent more likely to own their homes.
    • Registered nurses earn 5 percent more, are 1 percent more likely to have health insurance coverage, and are 2 percent more likely to own their homes.
    • Manufacturing production workers earn 3 percent more, are 2 percent more likely to have health insurance coverage, and are 1 percent more likely to own their homes.

The Workers’ Rights Amendment would prevent laws from being passed that would interfere in private negotiations between businesses and workers or restrict their ability to bargain collectively. The Workers’ Rights Amendment would not only promote superior safety outcomes and a strong middle-class economy for Illinois workers and businesses, but it would also reduce burdens on state taxpayers while reducing turnover costs for employers and ensuring labor market competitiveness in the state’s most essential jobs.

* Opposition highlighted by The Center Square

Illinois Policy’s Ann Miller said the amendment would allow lawmakers to increase taxes if they choose.

“Illinois businesses are already dealing with a high tax environment, and this amendment would just exasperate that,” Miller told The Center Square. “It opens the door for any kind of policy or anything above and beyond salaries.”

Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, told The Center Square that restaurants and other businesses have had difficulty hiring workers. Miller believes that problem could worsen.

“If we have increased property taxes, it is going to hurt their bottom lines which will hurt their funding,” Miller said. “They might have a harder time finding workers because the cost of business will go up, and employees have the option to strike any day.”

* Illinois Policy Institute

What Amendment 1 would do if passed Nov. 8 is guarantee a $2,149 property tax hike on each Illinois family during the next four years by giving union bosses the nationally unprecedented power to negotiate contract concessions that carry more weight than state law.

The measure would ensure future union strikes over a nearly limitless range of subjects unrelated to wages and benefits. It would allow government union bosses to negate over 350 state laws and give the union contracts dominance over state law. It would make government unions the only special interest with constitutional protection and make Illinois the only state seeing those protections as a good move. It would let government unions protect bad actors from proper discipline, including those who pose a threat to children.

The website is sponsored by Vote Yes for Workers’ Rights, a union-backed independent expenditure committee. It claims Amendment 1 would help voters “build an economy that works for every Illinoisan.”

In reality, the amendment would only benefit the 7% of residents working for state and local governments while the vast majority of voters would see their taxes go up to support greater government union demands that state lawmakers would be prohibited from curbing.

IPI attempts to explain its $2,149 projection here

Uses compound annual growth rates in home prices as reported by the All-Transactions House Price Index for Illinois from 2010-2021 to project future average home values through 2026. Uses compounded annual growth rate in average property taxes as calculated by U.S. Census Bureau for 2010-2019 to project property taxes through 2025.

* Workers’ Rights Amendment campaign embeds…


       

25 Comments
  1. - Just Sayin - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 10:16 am:

    No comparison on the effects of union and non-union membership on the homeownership rates of state employees?

    For the record I am an union-covered state employee who has never been a home owner and for personal reasons, prefers to rent permanently instead of own.


  2. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 10:19 am:

    Pritzker and Biden have been terrific for unions, with the infrastructure investments and other bills. Should the Chicago casino come to fruition, that’s lots of jobs in one project. Today the big climate bill is expected to pass the House in DC, adding more investment and union-type jobs.


  3. - PublicServant - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 10:29 am:

    Welp, if IPI and “Center” Square are against it, I’m a yes on it. IPI might have tried to explain their property tax increase figure, but they failed miserably, as usual.


  4. - Merica - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 10:30 am:

    Hospitals and hospital insurance companies are evil and greedy, but the last thing I want is all the nurses in a hospital grieving over every possible issue. Hospitals are already a bureaucratic nightmare. There is no existing staff in the hospital system to deal with administering unionized nurses. The cost of hospital care will increase greatly. Nurses are already paid extremely well, and they also already have a victim mentality which has evolved due to their relationship with physicians, and discrepancy with physician pay. If we move to unionize nurses, we’ll see less effective care on nights, weekends, and holidays, less effective care overall (due to less personal accountability). Do we really want nurses in the ER saying “that’s not my job”.

    Seriously, Democrats, this is a dumb idea (politically). don’t lose your momentum going into these midterms. don’t throw away the suburbs. There are other carrots that can be given to organized labor, like more public projects.


  5. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 10:36 am:

    == Uses compound annual growth rates in home prices as reported by the All-Transactions House Price Index for Illinois from 2010-2021 to project future average home values through 2026. Uses compounded annual growth rate in average property taxes as calculated by U.S. Census Bureau for 2010-2019 to project property taxes through 2025.==

    Is it just me, or does the IPI word salad above not also imply that home values will increase faster if this amendment passes? After all, property taxes would only go up with concurrent increases in home values. “Vote No or your house will be worth more money” doesn’t sound like a very good sales pitch.


  6. - H-W - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 10:38 am:

    == IPI attempts to explain its $2,149 projection ==

    It would seem, anything the Illinois Policy Institute chooses to publicly oppose, from worker rights to shoe sizes, would correlate with their model for projecting higher taxes in the future. If you begin with the proposition and a model that forecasts housing prices going up in the future, and therefore local property taxes are going to go up in the future because property taxes are by definition tied to the value of property, then by definition, anything that trends, will correlate with the argument made. However, that does not show causation - only correlation.

    We could argue that as the number of weapons sold in Illinois has caused property taxes to go up, since they are correlated. We could argue “as the amount of hot air blown by politicians and media pundants increases, so too do property taxes.” Indeed, we could argue that every time the IPI issues a thought, property taxes go up.

    As long as you have a model that is premised upon a fixed effect of property taxes perpetually going up, then anything that “trends” will correlate neatly with property taxes.

    If we were to melt the butter cow, we could argue that doing so caused property taxes to go up.


  7. - Chicagonk - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 10:49 am:

    Dems need to stop with these ballot amendments. The idea that this needs to be in the constitution is bonkers.


  8. - Arsenal - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 11:18 am:

    ==The idea that this needs to be in the constitution is bonkers. ==

    OTOH, the UN recognizes that the right to bargain is fundamental, so protecting it from the whims of a legislature makes a ton of sense.


  9. - Da big bad wolf - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 11:21 am:

    === and they also already have a victim mentality===
    Never met a nurse with a victim mentality. I have several in my family.
    === If we move to unionize nurses===
    Nurse can already unionize right now should they decide to.


  10. - Mason born - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 11:26 am:

    On a somewhat related note, the next batch of public union contracts are going to be interesting. With 8-9% annualized inflation numbers AFSCME and the rest of the public sector unions are going to be pushing hard for some big raises. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen jnflation like this. While sales tax revenue increased with inflation I suspect a lot of gov’t leaders would like to spend elsewhere.

    Going to be interesting.


  11. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 11:27 am:

    ===don’t throw away the suburbs===

    Yes, because they just absolutely hate nurses in the suburbs. Right.


  12. - Arsenal - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 11:36 am:

    ==If we move to unionize nurses==

    Nurses are already widely unionized with a very politically powerful union.

    One thing a lot of people miss is that fighting your boss, even with a powerful union on your side, is a tremendous pain in the butt. Most people don’t enter into it lightly, and that goes for even folks like private sector trades and AFSCME. When you have someone like nurses who have to weight their grievances against the possibility of disrupting care for people who need it, they’re going to be even less likely to call ticky-tack fouls.


  13. - Pundent - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 11:45 am:

    Claiming that a workforce shouldn’t organize because they have a “victim mentality” is precisely the reason why they would want to organize.

    I thought health care workers were our heroes? I saw a sign or two to that effect. Or maybe that was directed towards the administrators? I guess hatred for unions trumps any positive feelings we might have towards nurses? Any idea of the numbers of folks that walked away from hospitals due to burnout during Covid? It ain’t inconsequential.


  14. - John Lopez - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 11:46 am:

    === … Biden…been terrific for unions, with the infrastructure investments and other bills. ===

    Biden has TWO glaring exceptions/failures to his union record:

    - failure to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act due to three Democratic U.S. Senate holdouts in Mark Warner (VA), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Mark Kelly (AZ). PRO Act would amend the National Labor Relations Act, outlaw right-to-work states (making Amendment 1 unneeded) and classified all workers, including most 1099 independent contractors as employees for the purpose of union organizing.

    - Failure to implement changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) through Labor Department to classify 1099 independent contractors as employees for tax status, to supersede state laws, including Illinois, under an outdated test known as the ABC test.

    The key for increasing union membership in Illinois and across the country is worker classification.

    Biden has failed to deliver the unions’ number one legislative goal, passing the PRO Act, and if Republicans flip one house of Congress in November, PRO Act won’t happen.


  15. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 11:57 am:

    ==Illinois Policy’s Ann Miller said the amendment would allow lawmakers to increase taxes if they choose.==

    Last I checked, they already have that ability.

    The Amendment would not change much, if anything. It takes what is already in state law and puts it in the state constitution so it is more difficult for future legislators & governors to change it. That makes it hard to come up with a serious argument in opposition.


  16. - walker - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 12:02 pm:

    IPI’s creativity with numbers made me laugh out loud this morning. Their claimed direct route to a “higher taxes” message was fantastic too . Thanks.

    HW ++


  17. - Facts Matter - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 12:06 pm:

    I’ve now read the IPI explanation for how they came up with their property tax increase numbers a few times, but I still don’t understand how the numbers were derived and the correlation between the amendment and there assertion that the amendment will result in a higher rate of property tax increases.

    They seem to be saying that adoption of this amendment will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the IPI’s pet “solutions” for increased property taxes to be adopted - most notably, consolidation of governmental units, and cutting pension benefits among other things. Therefore, the fact that it will be more difficult to implement these things will cause property taxes to increase faster.

    I suppose they are also asserting that the amendment will give pubic sector unions greater bargaining power, which will lead to greater personnel costs, which will lead to higher taxes.

    I’m also a bit unclear on how they conclude that increasing home values will necessarily lead to, or contribute to, increases in property taxes - such a conclusion evinces a misunderstanding of the property tax system in Illinois.

    In Illinois, taxing bodies determine the amount of their annual levy (the amount of taxes they wish to collect). There are various statutory constraints on how much levies for particular taxing districts can be increased, including PTELL in many areas of the state. Then, the levy is divided among the properties in the taxing districts by the assessed value of the properties. So, if the value of all properties rise, there is a larger amount of assessed value to be divided. In other words, assume the levy stays the same from year 1 to year 2 but total assessed value increased by 5%. If everyone’s value increased 5% everyone would still pay the same amount of property tax.

    Also, using numbers beginning in 2010 likely provides a skewed view of increases in home value and taxes because of the impact of the great recession on home values in the early years.


  18. - IL4Ever - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 12:14 pm:

    IPI: “Property taxes goes up on average. This Amendment… which about workers’ rights to bargain for better pay and safety conditions and doesn’t mention property taxes or electing local officials who can actually determine those taxes… means property taxes will go up! Why? Because they have gone up by this amount, on average!”

    Not great analysis for a supposed think tank.

    And how do they respond to the counterargument that collective bargaining / unions raise wages, which lead to higher tax contributions (8% more according to the report) and less welfare reliance for union members?


  19. - Just Sayin - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 12:19 pm:

    ==On a somewhat related note, the next batch of public union contracts are going to be interesting.==

    I wonder if AFSCME’s opposition to mandatory vaccination and testing last year might be remembered again next year during the start of their contract negotiations? Maybe even affecting the administration’s stance on AFSCME raise, working conditions, and other demands the union might have for the next contract?


  20. - ChrisB - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 12:57 pm:

    Has anyone actually read the report?

    It offers no explanation as to HOW the amendment would improve lives, it just compares union friendly states to RTW states while never defining their datasets. The entire premise of the report assumes correlation equals causation.


  21. - JoanP - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 1:33 pm:

    = this amendment would just exasperate that =

    Well, the IPI exasperates me.


  22. - City Zen - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 1:49 pm:

    ==It offers no explanation as to HOW the amendment would improve lives==

    Because they don’t know how the amendment works either. The report merely recycles talking points from their previous pro-labor reports.


  23. - Demoralized - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 2:07 pm:

    ==opposition to mandatory vaccination and testing ==

    Mandatory vaccination for state workers globally isn’t going to happen. It just isn’t. Stop talking about it.

    ==Maybe even affecting the administration’s stance=

    It won’t. Mandatory vaccination isn’t on any negotiating list for state workers as a whole and never has been.


  24. - Chicago 20 - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 3:48 pm:

    Here is the Illinois Economic Policy Institute on the benefits of the Worker’s Rights Amendment. https://illinoisepi.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/ilepi-pmcr-workers-rights-amendment-and-illinois-jobs-final.pdf


  25. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 3:59 pm:

    Couple quick thoughts;

    ===Biden has TWO glaring exceptions/failures===

    Unions ain’t heading the GOP way. Nope.

    * IPI is wholly dishonest to labor related issues, using them as a benchmark is foolhardy at best.

    * AFSCME is not a true labor organization by any measure of their charter to be the voice for members’ health and welfare. AFSCME now is no better than a sports agent looking for their cut of the contract. They may not like that, but after Covid it’s true.


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