Workers’ Rights

The labor movement has historically provided U.S. workers with reliable pathways into good, middle-class jobs. Labor unions improve economic outcomes for workers primarily through collective bargaining, which is a process of negotiation between employers and workers that promotes democratic workplaces.

Unions households earn between 10% and 20% more than nonunion households.

95% of union workers have access to health care coverage compared with just 68% for nonunion workers.

68% of Americans support labor unions, with unions for teachers and nurses having the highest approval.

With nearly 800,000 members, unions continue to play an important role in communities across Illinois. Teachers, police officers, firefighters, construction workers, registered nurses, and delivery drivers all have high unionization rates in Illinois.

22% of essential workers are union members in Illinois
African Americans and Veterans are more likely to be union members
Unions boost wages by 11% on average for workers in Illinois

Union membership, however, has gradually declined across America due to the spread of so-called “right-to-work” laws. “Right-to-work” laws allow workers to free ride and take all the services and benefits of collective bargaining – such as higher wages, better health care, and legal representation – without paying anything for them. By restricting the ability of workers to join together and collectively bargain, “right-to-work” laws weaken unions.

“Right-to-work” states have:

Illinois is one of 23 states, and the District of Columbia, with collective bargaining freedom laws. Compared with their counterparts in the 27 states with so-called “right-to-work” laws, the people of Illinois have:

6% higher incomes
32% fewer workplace fatalities
5% greater health care coverage

Passing the Workers’ Rights Amendment in November 2022 would ensure that workers in Illinois continue to earn middle-class incomes and would protect workers’ safety. The Workers’ Rights Amendment would effectively ban “right-to-work” laws in Illinois, preventing the government from interfering in the negotiations between businesses and workers. The Amendment would protect essential workers and would mean that police officers and firefighters can continue to receive the training they need to do their jobs, nurses can continue to speak out in hospitals without fear of retaliation, teachers can continue to negotiate over smaller classrooms for students, and blue-collar workers can go through well-funded apprenticeship programs to learn skills that provide middle-class incomes. That’s because the states that are most effective at building middle-class jobs and delivering economic growth are those that support workers’ rights and collective bargaining.