Major League Rugby will be Watching Elections in Illinois

Its Election Day in the United States. If you haven’t voted, why are you reading this?

(Exception: if you’re reading this while in a line to vote, feel free to continue.)

One particular race should be on the minds of folks in the league office. Illinois voters have been asked to vote up or down to a potential amendment to the state constitution. Broadly speaking, Amendement 1 would codify the right for workers to organize. The Amendment reads as follows:

The proposed amendment would add a new section to the Bill of Rights Article of the Illinois Constitution that would guarantee workers the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively and to negotiate wages, hours, and working conditions, and to promote their economic welfare and safety at work. The new amendment would also prohibit from being passed any new law that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety. At the general election to be held on November 8, 2022, you will be called upon to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution. For the proposed addition of Section 25 to Article I of the Illinois Constitution.

According to Ballotpedia, a 60% approval on the measure or a simple majority of all those casting ballots would result in approval of the amendment.

All of this is occurring right as Major League Rugby sees its goodwill with players destroyed and a team being hastily placed in Chicago. Three other states have similar constitutional language, but this will be the first incidence of such rights being codified in a state with an MLR team (Hawaii and Missouri lack teams, while New York’s team is technically housed in New Jersey.).

What impact approval of the amendment would have is yet to be seen. (Like most legislation, there’s an element of interpretation left to the courts.) While MLR players organized in 2020, the league has never formally recognized the union or engaged in collective bargaining. With the center of players anger shifting to Illinois, the United States Rugby Players Association will certainly be exploring how to force the league to engage.

To be clear, this would not change the status of the entire league, only players tied to Chicago. Many of those players will be headed to the Windy City against their will. They could be much more forceful with their labor rights. (Regardless of the amendment, Illinois will still be the most labor friendly state with an MLR side.) If Chicago’s players would organize and be recognized, it would be a tipping point that would see the entire league unionized and recognized in short order.


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