By Aaron Gyrion
Knocking on doors, circulating petitions and submitting signatures to the Board of Elections is typically what candidates must do to have their name on the ballot come election time.
However, in Illinois, the state’s entire workforce is on the ballot with the proposed Workers’ Rights Amendment. In this upcoming general election, we have the opportunity to give each and every person who wakes up in the morning and puts a best foot forward a chance to have unprecedented protections in the workplace.
At a time when Americans increasingly feel like there is so much out of our control, this is a chance to seize back power for us, the people. Record high gas prices, inflation nearing double digits, war in Ukraine, sky-high housing costs, and stagnant wages all make it harder and harder to get through our daily lives. Though the Fed raises mortgage interest rates, our savings accounts are stuck at paltry interest percentages.
The average American is not catching a break and bears the brunt of the burden. It’s hard enough to just get by, let alone try to save for a rainy day or retirement.
Many union workers enjoy benefits not seen among their non-union counterparts. Employer-provided healthcare, pensions for retirement (which are much more beneficial than a 401k), higher wages and take home pay, and safer working conditions are just some of the advantages to a unionized workplace.
Also, there is a psychological ease that workers feel when they have a say in their working conditions. By bargaining collectively, workers and their union voices on the job must be heard by bosses and managers who would otherwise pay no mind to worker concerns.
In the spirit of transparency, I must disclose that I am a union member--something I’m very proud of. It has enhanced my quality of life in so many ways, and I want every single worker in Illinois to have that same opportunity. Voting yes on the proposed amendment means more workers have a voice. More Illinoisans can speak up when something at work isn’t safe, without fear of repercussions. Granting more power to the people, especially those who work day in and day out for their entire lives, is a principle that this country was founded upon.
Those who attempt to undermine and vilify the workers who built this country and keep it moving forward are lying for their own selfish gain.
Some people may try to paint this as a political, Democrat vs. Republican issue. This is simply not true. This is a worker issue.
The groups lobbying millions of dollars against this are corporate-funded think tanks filled with people who have never put forth an honest day’s labor in their life.
Corporate interest groups are spending millions of dollars to keep control and power over you and your working conditions. They want to upgrade their silver spoons to gold, and they want to do it at your expense. They want to control your working conditions to keep their workforce docile and meek. If you speak up against them, you’re in the unemployment line. They would rather spend money against you than investing it in you.
If this amendment passes, your right to collectively bargain and speak up will be constitutionally protected. Don’t fall prey to the lies they spew to pit us against each other. Vote yes and vote for yourself and your future.
To be clear, this amendment does not force unionization on workers, no more than the First Amendment forces you to speak or go to church. It simply protects that right so that no politician, no matter their affiliation, can tamper with it.
Voting yes on the Workers’ Rights Amendment would constitutionally protect your right to collectively bargain with your co-workers to improve your working conditions and keep control of your life. Please join me in voting yes for all workers in Illinois this November.
Aaron Gyrion is a native Southwest Sider and a proud, second-generation member of IUOE Local 150.