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Martinez leads effort to support, grow worker cooperatives

Sens. Peters, Hunter and MartinezSPRINGFIELD – Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez spoke Thursday on the need for clarity in state law regarding worker cooperatives, a model in which businesses are owned and controlled cooperatively by workers.

“Worker cooperatives are a proven model that provide living wage jobs, especially for workers in communities of color, who often work in the low-wage economy where wage theft and discrimination are extremely common,” Martinez said.

Martinez is sponsoring House Bill 3663, which would provide clarity of what a worker cooperative is and the benefits and rights of those that operate under its construct. It also sets guidelines for organizing and managing a worker cooperative.

State Senator Robert Peters, a chief co-sponsor of the legislation, said the measure will make it easier for people to come together and create business opportunities in areas that have seen disinvestment, like the south side of Chicago.

“In the state of Illinois, let’s be at the forefront of worker cooperatives,” Peters (D-Chicago) said. “Let’s make it easier for people to do so, and let’s change how we reinvest in our communities.”

State Senator Mattie Hunter, also a co-sponsor of the measure, said that only 18 percent of Chicago businesses are owned by people of color. Of those, 6 percent are Latino business owners, and only 2 percent are African American.

“This is unacceptable to us,” Hunter (D-Chicago) said. “We must support innovative models that are proven to work for communities of color.”

House Bill 3663 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition and awaits action in the Senate.
View video of the senators’ remarks below.

 

Senator Iris Y. Martinez

Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez

Assistant Majority Leader
20th District

Years served:
2003 - Present
 
Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Education; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive; Government Accountability/Pensions (Vice-Chairperson); Transportation.

Biography: Born Feb. 25, 1956, in Chicago; earned her bachelor's degree in public policy and administration from Northeastern Illinois University in 2009; elected president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. She is also the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Co-Chair; has one daughter.

Associated Representatives:
Jaime M. Andrade, Jr.
Will Guzzardi