21st state Senate opponents divided on 'right to unionize' constitutional amendment

As a co-sponsor of "right to unionize" legislation in the state senate, Democrat Laura Ellman is clear about her support for adding Amendment 1 to the Illinois Constitution.

Republican Kathleen Murray is equally clear about her opposition.

It's one of the many issues facing the candidates as Murray tries to unseat Ellman in the 21st state Senate District race.

Murray, a technology executive from Lombard, said proponents labeling Amendment 1 as a "Workers' Rights Amendment" are trying to "trick" uninformed voters into thinking it's a good thing. Ellman, from Naperville, said Amendment 1 would add an extra layer of protection for the state's workers.

"It was sponsored by not only Democrats but also Republicans," said Ellman, who has a manufacturing and engineering background. "It will chiefly just ensure that labor relations and workers have the rights that they need here in Illinois."

The proposal is supported by several large labor unions, including the Illinois AFL-CIO. It's opposed by groups such as the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

Proponents say Amendment 1 would guarantee workers the right to organize and bargain collectively for better pay and work conditions. Opponents insist Amendment 1 would increase property taxes by giving public-sector unions too broad a reach in negotiations.

"I view it as anti-business and anti-taxpayer," Murray said. "It's giving unions excessive power ... and giving union bosses extreme power to demand anything in negotiations and allowing them to strike to get what they want."

For Amendment 1 to be added to the Illinois Constitution, it needs either "yes" votes from three-fifths of the people voting specifically on the proposal or "yes" votes from a majority of those casting a ballot in the election.

The 21st Senate District includes portions of Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Lisle, Lombard, Naperville, Villa Park, Warrenville and Wheaton.

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