Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, testifies before the Executive Committee on his legislation to allow legislative staff to unionize, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/John O’Connor)

Illinois House approves staff unionization, GOP questions whether it’s necessary

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The speaker of the Illinois House on Wednesday won approval for allowing legislative staff to organize for collective bargaining, overcoming Republican objections about whether it’s necessary.

Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch’s legislation, endorsed 74-35 on a largely partisan vote, would allow legislative coordinators, subject-matter specialists, mailroom employees, custodians, doorkeepers providing security and others to unionize.

After Oregon allowed legislative aides to unionize in 2021, the movement has gained momentum. California endorsed collective bargaining last month but efforts in other states, such as Washington, have so far stalled. Maine allowed some staff unionization in the early 2000s.

Welch urged lawmakers to discard “finite” thinking when they’re engaged in “an infinite game,” responsible for improving the machinations of government for the future.

“Everyone in this room is going to be replaced or move on. It’s going to be someone else here, but the business of government is going to go on,” Welch said. “To ask yourself, ‘What’s best for me?’ is finite thinking. Infinite thinking is, ‘What’s best for us?’”