Speaker Welch Introduces Legislation to Make Illinois Among the First States to Allow Legislative Staff to Unionize (Springfield, IL) — On Wednesday, House Speaker Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch introduced legislation that would make Illinois one of the first states in the nation to allow legislative staff in the House and Senate to bargain collectively for wages, hours, and more.
“Legislative employees in the House and Senate have the right to organize and collectively bargain,” said Speaker Welch. “It’s important that they have equal opportunity to make their voices heard.”
The legislation comes after roughly 20 members of the Speaker’s staff requested voluntary recognition as a union by Welch after their petition was denied by the Labor Relations Board in the spring of 2023. Current law specifically prohibits legislative staff from organizing, which is why Speaker Welch is spearheading a change in statute.
House Bill 4148 will create the Legislative Employee Labor Relations Act to allow legislative staff to unionize and engage in collective bargaining. It will also establish an Office of State Legislative Labor Relations to represent the General Assembly in collective bargaining with legislative staff.
“I’m proud to champion unions and workers’ rights,” said Speaker Welch. “When it became clear that voluntary recognition of staff’s efforts to unionize was not legally possible, I directed my senior staff to research a change to state law that will protect workers equally. Illinois is on the cutting edge of this issue; California, Oregan, and Washington have advanced similar legislation very recently, and the work we are doing builds on that.”
A representative for the staff union efforts told Capitol News Illinois they “are happy to see the Speaker file this bill” and they “look forward to working together in good faith and coming to an agreement.”
Speaker Welch is encouraging robust discussion on the proposal until the fall veto session begins on Oct. 24th.
Speaker Welch Introduces Legislation to Make Illinois Among the First States to Allow Legislative Staff to Unionize