Illinois and Tennessee vote to expand workers’ rights in ballot measures
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Illinois and Tennessee vote to expand workers’ rights in ballot measures

Illinois and Tennessee Tuesday voted on Election Day ballot measures to add protections to workers’ rights to organize and engage in collective bargaining. These measures add to the majority of US states with right-to-work laws.

In Illinois, 58.5 percent of voters said yes to adding Section 25, titled “Workers’ Rights,” to Article I of the Illinois Constitution. Section 25 would make worker organization and collective bargaining a fundamental right. The section is designed to allow workers to negotiate safety conditions, wages, hours, working conditions, and economic welfare. Additionally, it prohibits the state from passing laws restricting or prohibiting workers’ rights to organize and engage in collective bargaining.

Tennessee voters said yes to adding to Article XI of the Tennessee Constitution. Article XI would make it illegal for the state to deny or attempt to deny employment to any person because of their membership, affiliation, resignation from, or refusal to join a labor union or employee organization. 69.79 percent of voters said yes to the measure.

The votes come amidst a wave of unionization taking place across the US. Employers in industries like food service have a seen a rapid rise in unionization in their stores. For example, on August 31, 2021, the first Starbucks store voted for unionization. As of November 1, 2022, 245 stores have voted for unionization. Last Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board issued a consolidated complaint and notice of hearing against an Augusta, Maine, Chipotle for illegally discriminating against unionized employees.