What happens if government unions gain control of an entire state?

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By Mailee Smith for RealClearPolicy

Chaos. Breaking off. Uncertainty.

The Chicago Teachers Union provides a real-world example of what happens when a government union has too much power.

CTU has gone on strike three times in three school years. In the last work stoppage, more 330,000 schoolchildren missed five days of school. The parents were notified of the strike after 11 pm on a school night, leaving them alone hours to develop a backup plan after the union decided not to show up.

This closure follows the 2020-2021 school year, when Chicago Public Schools was fully remote for most of the year, implementing hybrid options beginning in February 2021. In total, Chicago students had spent 17 months without fully educated. in person by the time they started the current school year on August 30, 2021.

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And the academic performance of students suffered for it. One example: On the SATs, there was a 6.1 percentage point drop in the number of Chicago students who at least met standards in math, and a 6.7 percentage point drop for the same category for low-income students. revenue, in 2021 compared to 2019.

But the CTU’s political muscle, and its willingness to exercise it, could become the model for schools and government at all levels if Illinois’ powerful government-sector unions get what they ask for at the polls in November. They want an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would give unelected government union bosses more power than state law or elected individuals to represent the best interests of residents.

Illinois has long been a bastion of union power, and Amendment 1 could be part of a plan to consolidate that control.

Unions often run legislation in a test state before testing it in other states or even at the federal level. For example, California AB 5that effectively redefined independent contractors as employees to force them to unionize, was imitated by provisions in a version of the federal law Law for the protection of the right to organize, or PRO Law. The Washington state provisions used to strengthen union representation for home care providers funded through Medicaid were included in a version of the Build Back Better Act.

So this is what is at stake.

Amendment 1 is presented as a ban on the right to work in a state that no longer allows the right to work, but it is much more than that. That It would give unions a “fundamental” right to organize and bargain over wages, hours, working conditions, economic well-being, and job security—that is, just about anything—and would explicitly prohibit lawmakers from interfering with or diminishing those rights.

The unions could demand anything during the negotiations and go on strike to have their demands met. The resulting contracts would carry the weight of the state constitution. Lawmakers could not restrict what unions can bargain for or limit when they can strike without violating the state constitution.

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What’s more, lawmakers could never repeal a little-known Illinois provision that allows many union contracts to override conflicting state and local laws and regulations.

Known in legal parlance as an “override clause,” the practical effect is that a union will be able to rewrite laws it doesn’t like simply by negotiating a contrary provision in its contract. If the employer does not agree? The union goes on strike. And the hands of government officials will be tied.

That includes the laws in place to protect children.

A provision requiring “background information” on employees of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the department in charge of protecting children who are reported abused or neglected – could contradict themselves in the union’s contract with the state.

The same could happen with the provision that prohibits the employment of “sexually dangerous” persons.

On the education side, a union could decide that state licensing qualifications are too strenuous and drop the licensing requirement entirely in a school district contract.

In fact, the unions could undermine at least 11 layouts in the Illinois Children and Family Services Act and other 38 in its School Code, just two acts out of thousands in Illinois statutes, backed by the state constitution.

This is not the first time unions have attempted to pass such a state constitutional amendment in a pro-union state: A similar initiative “Protect Our Jobs” was considered in Michigan in 2012. That amendment would have adversely affected at least 80 Michigan laws and jeopardized the state’s fiscal stability, according to a memorandum State Attorney General Bill Schuette dispatched Governor Rick Snyder at the time.

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But the unions overreached themselves. The amendment was not only roundly defeated 57% to 42%, but the Michigan Legislature after enacted provisions on the right to work which entered into force the following March.

Till the date, no other state constitutions include provisions like those in Amendment 1.

But that doesn’t mean unions in other states don’t try. The Michigan experience frustrated union efforts for a decade. If the amendment passes in Illinois, government union leaders won’t wait that long to try it again in other states.

The CTU’s damaging antics are just a precursor to what could happen if the government unions get what they want. The lesson: If Amendment 1 is enacted in Illinois, the unions will not sit still. The ability of an unelected third party to rewrite the laws of one state will create an insatiable desire to do so in other states.

And that is a threat to the principles of democracy everywhere.

Distributed with permission from Real Clear Wire.

Mailee Smith is director of labor policy and an attorney at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Political Insider.





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