The debate over the proposed Workers’ Rights Amendment should be a rematch between the familiar foe — unions and business interests.
Except it’s not like that, to be exact.
Its unions are largely opposed to a right-wing political group and one individual, Richard Uihlein, chief executive of packaging distributor Uline. Uihlein was a prominent funder of conservative causes and a major supporter of Darren Bailey’s Republican gubernatorial campaign. Other large corporate donors are not in the fight.
Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, has spoken out against what critics call Amendment 1, but his organization’s political action committee has not invested money to fight it. Business leaders are prioritizing other races in November, Maisch said. 8 votes, including two seats on the Illinois Supreme Court.
“Compared to that, the amendment issue becomes a little more isolated, maybe a lot,” Maisch said.
Other sources said major donors spent a lot of money during this year’s primaries and are awaiting calls for more funding from the Chicago mayor’s campaign. “It comes down to donor fatigue,” said one political adviser.
State campaign records show that Uihlein had voted against Amendment 1 to a committee formed by the Illinois Policy Institute to oppose the measure, sending $2 million to the committee. John Tillman and Matt Paprocki are the Institute’s president and president, respectively, as well as campaign committee chair and treasurer.
The voting-no committee booked an additional $1 million from the Government Accountability Coalition, another arm of the Policy Institute that Tillman runs. Apart from a few small donations, the $3 million is the entire amount raised to oppose the amendment, according to the latest filing.
Meanwhile, unions have raised about $13 million, mostly from locals and other labor groups. It allows Labour to run TV ads for amendments in traditional voting campaigns.
The policy institute has said little about how it spent money opposing the amendment. Reported expenditures are approximately $337,000, including website design, printing and postage. The group has yet to start running TV commercials.
The group would not say whether it would run ads at the last minute or discuss its spending strategy. It provides a statement from Paprocki:
“The Voting Committee is directing funding to initiatives that educate voters about Amendment 1 and its dangerous impact on Illinois taxpayers, families, and businesses. Unlike the agenda-driven lobbyists’ goals behind Amendment 1, the committee’s focus is on sharing The fact that the amendment will only benefit government union bosses at the expense of the most vulnerable communities in Illinois.”
Uihlein of Lake Forest did not respond to a request for comment. His company is located in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
The Sun Times reported that he and his wife have donated at least $6.4 million to Republican congressional candidates questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
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