Illinois government unions back Amendment 1, giving them power at taxpayers’ expense, says Brad Weisenstein of the Illinois Policy Institute.
In a popular Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown muses about how much their teacher, Miss Othmar, is paid. Linus, indignant, shouts, “PAID?” and pronounces the idea she accepts money for teaching as outrageous. His favorite teacher approaches teaching as a “pure art form.”
Purist. Innocent. Romantic, as are many of us who believe, in part correctly, that our favorite teachers worked out of love and wanting to create a profound impact on our lives.
Contrast that with the feeling from the Chicago Teachers Union. The love of students seems to fade as the lust for power and militancy ascends.
Embracing a Venezuelan despot. Boosting socialist candidates. Using children as pawns and keeping them out of school with no notice while pretending to know more about COVID-19 mitigations than the public health experts. Rent abatement. Wealth redistribution. Defunding the police.
All this while CTU fights to keep half-empty Chicago Public Schools open and accepts ever-declining academic achievement. Only 21% of students in third through eighth grades scored as proficient in reading and 16% in math during the 2020-2021 school year.
Parents don’t want less for their children, which is why 63,000 students are gone from a decade ago. Not to mention that CTU has also helped drive students away by pushing up costs by nearly $2 billion in the district.
Paying more for less seems to be all-too-acceptable in Illinois. Statewide, the student population has declined by 180,000 while the teaching ranks have grown by 4,500.
Now CTU and other Illinois government unions are pushing for more power and more ability to foist fewer services for more money on Illinois taxpayers. At the top of the Nov. 8 ballot is an item innocently portrayed by its union backers as the “Worker’s Rights Amendment” and a way to boost jobs and pay in Illinois.
Accepting that portrayal would make you about as innocent as Linus.
The proposed change to the Illinois Constitution, known as Amendment 1, would make government unions untouchable in Illinois. Its costs and implications are largely unknown, because no other state has put such broad language protecting this special interest in its constitution.
While TV ads claim private-sector workers would benefit, that’s simply untrue and even illegal. A state constitution cannot regulate collective bargaining in the private sector, because that’s a power the federal government reserves for itself. All Amendment 1 can do is boost the power of state and local government unions, which represent less than 7% of Illinois’ working adults.
What Amendment 1 can do is raise property taxes for everyone. Once government union bosses have permanent strike powers and the proposal’s guarantee that they can negotiate over virtually anything – such as CTU’s favorite social agenda items – then taxpayers will be forced to pay for those demands.
One conservative estimate by the Illinois Policy Institute is Amendment 1 would virtually guarantee higher property taxes of more than $2,100 during the next four years, simply by maintaining Illinois’ status quo. Should government union bosses exercise new powers granted through Amendment 1, the tax hike on Illinoisans could wind up being far more costly.
If you think government unions are weak in Illinois, then take a look at our nation-leading pension debt. Government unions negotiated with their co-conspirators in the Statehouse for such generous benefits that we’ve spent over 25% of the ever-growing state budget on retirement payments yet still racked up a $130 billion gap between what cash we have and what we’ll need to fulfill those promises. Illinois property taxes are double the average and No. 2 in the U.S., yet we still owe $75 billion to local government retirees.
On the surface, the first choice voters will make Nov. 8 is about government union power. In reality, it is about property taxes and handing control of those taxes to unelected government union bosses.
Miss Othmar would expect you to study the details and ask yourself, “Is this how democracy is supposed to work?”
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.