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Labor

  • Bennett supports new law protecting front-line workers

    maskedworker1 080720CHAMPAIGN – A measure co-sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) that increases public employee benefits, protects retail workers and expands collective bargaining rights was signed into law Friday.

    “Front-line workers have put their own wellbeing on the line to provide essential services during this crisis,” Bennett said. “This new law ensures workers are properly protected as we continue to battle COVID-19.”

    Certain state employees, including firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics, would be eligible for an additional 60 days of paid disability leave if their injury recovery has been hindered by difficulties accessing treatment due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    To recognize the essential role retail workers have taken on during this public health emergency, battery of a retail worker would be enhanced to aggravated battery if the worker was performing duties like relaying directions for health care or safety. The enhancement would also set in if the act is committed during a declared disaster or state of emergency due to a public health emergency, and for an additional six months after the declaration. 

    “Workers do not deserve harassment for enforcing state-issued safety guidelines,” Bennett said. “Expanding legal protections for workers is the right thing to do.”

     

    Senate Bill 471 is effective immediately.

  • Castro pleased with expansion of worker protections during pandemic

    castro 01292020CM0084ELGIN – A measure supported by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) meant to expand protections for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday.

    “Essential workers literally kept our world up and running during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, so the very least we can do is expand their protections to ensure they stay safe for the duration of this crisis and for any similar future crises,” Castro said. “They perform necessary jobs, often with little thanks, so it’s about time we give back to them.”

    The package, Senate Bill 471, was passed by the General Assembly in May and contained three provisions:

    • Expanded disability protections for firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement officers and other public workers who contract COVID-19 during the line of duty;
    • Enhanced criminal penalties to protect retail workers who are performing duties such as relaying information or enforcing safety guidelines during a state of emergency; and
    • Expanded collective bargaining rights for workers at horse racetracks with 10 or more employees.

    The law is effective immediately.

     

  • Lightford protects workers under new law

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  • Governor signs Holmes’ major labor and unemployment reforms into law

    holmes 031220SPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) is encouraged that Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 2455 this afternoon, allowing important changes to labor and unemployment laws to take immediate effect as workers continue to be shaken by COVID-19’s  toll on jobs and the economy.

    Holmes sponsored the measure passed by the General Assembly during the shortened Special Session at the Capitol in May. It will ensure first responders and essential workers have recourse if they contract COVID-19 at work and their employers failed to implement proper health and safety guidelines and requires employers to take this seriously.

    “This is for our essential workers who may not have sick time benefits but have had COVID-19 related to their jobs, in some cases due to lack of care taken by employers,” Holmes said. “We’ve moved quickly to address this problem and I’m pleased we did it cooperatively with business and labor involved in the solutions.”

    HB2455 also extends unemployment benefits and waives the waiting times associated with receiving benefits.

    “Millions are now unemployed through no fault of their own, and we must provide economic relief,” Holmes said. “I know the unemployment process has been frustrating for many -- including those who have unresolved issues with penalty weeks. Yet we’ve seen greater and greater capacity for filing for unemployment and significant state investment in improving these services.”

    This legislation also provides workers’ compensation benefits for Chicago first responders’ families in the event their loved one dies from COVID-19 in the line of duty, a benefit others in the state already have.

  • Castro pleased with passage of COVID-19 protections for first responders

    castro floor2 052120SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro and her colleagues in the Illinois Senate passed a bill Thursday that contained protections for first responders who are affected by COVID-19 as a result of their duties.

    “Now more than ever, the first responders and front-line workers who are risking their lives to keep us safe during a pandemic deserve our undying thanks and gratitude,” Castro said. “The very least we can do as a legislature is provide these brave men and women with protections since they are risking their lives every single day.”

    The legislation provides expanded worker’s compensation protection for COVID-19 first-responders and front-line workers, including people employed as a police officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic, health care provider (including nursing home, rehabilitation and homecare workers), corrections officer, or anyone employed as an essential worker.

    “No one deserves to have their lives ruined as a result of contracting COVID-19, and especially not people who have no choice but to be exposed to it,” Castro said.

    The first-responder protections were part of House Bill 2455, a labor protection package that also addressed issues with unemployment insurance. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and will be sent back to the House of Representatives for a final vote.

  • Hastings unveils plan to expand sick leave for airline employees

    Sen. Michael HastingsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) partnered with Southwest Airlines employees to hold a press conference advocating for the expansion of sick leave for airline employees Wednesday.

    “The fact that hardworking individuals are unable to use their earned sick time to care for their loved ones is unacceptable,” Hastings said. “Since this is an issue with federal law, we’re doing what we can at the state level to demonstrate that in Illinois, we put workers and their families first.”

    Hastings was joined by Corliss King, a flight attendant for Southwest, who was affected by this in 2017 after her husband was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. He was hospitalized several times and received various surgeries that left him in need of care at home. Corliss was able to use her own accrued sick time to help care for her husband and children until 2017, when a law was passed that removed coverage for airline employees.

  • Fine aims to grant graduate assistants employment protections

    Senator FineSPRINGFIELD – Graduate and research assistants would have the same labor rights as other educational employees under a bill sponsored by State Senator Laura Fine (D – Glenview). The bill was approved today by a Senate committee.

    “Graduate and research assistants are not considered employees despite performing a very important duty that benefits their university and society as a whole,” Fine said. “Allowing graduate and research assistants to collectively bargain will afford them the same dignity and respect already secured by their colleagues.”

    Currently, those classified as “students” are excluded from the definition of educational employee. House Bill 253 removes graduate assistants whose primary duties are research or pre-professional from the “student” classification, therefore allowing them to be counted as employees. This in turn entitles them to the same rights and incentives as other educational employees in the state, including the right to collectively bargain for things such as better working conditions and fairer pay.

    “Having a say over one’s own labor is a right that should be guaranteed to everyone,” Fine said. “I’m proud to be fighting to ensure graduate and research assistants can continue to do their important work with dignity.”

    The bill passed through the Senate Labor Committee and will now receive consideration from the full Senate.

  • Castro bill would ban employers from asking applicants their salary histories

    Job interviewSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Labor Committee voted to approve Senator Cristina Castro’s (D-Elgin) legislation strengthening the Illinois Equal Pay Act.

    House Bill 834 would prohibit employers from asking about salary histories when interviewing job applicants. The measure would reduce the effects of pay discrimination from past jobs.

    “This legislation addresses a wide range of people” said Castro. “Men and women of all ages and backgrounds should have an equal chance to succeed, and that is what I will continue to fight for as a member of this General Assembly.”

  • Lightford continues the fight for $15

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  • Raoul measure promotes stricter enforcement of employment laws

    raoul 030118 2SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) passed legislation in the Senate today that gives the Illinois attorney general greater ability to enforce employment laws.

    Currently, the attorney general can file suit under the state’s employment laws with a referral from the Illinois Department of Labor. This legislation removes that requirement and empowers the attorney general to bring suits related to violations of such laws as the Prevailing Wage Act, the Minimum Wage Act and the Day and Temporary Labor Services Act.

    “We know there are workers who are getting their hard-earned wages taken from them by employers and having their rights violated in other ways,” Raoul said. “Valid claims should not get lost in bureaucratic red tape. It makes no sense to have laws on the book to protect workers if we don’t enforce them.

    Raoul worked closely with Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville), who sponsored the measure in the House.

    “Corporate interests that take advantage of their employees must be held accountable,” Hoffman said. “This measure will give the attorney general’s office more tools to ensure Illinois workers have the right to a safe work environment and that they receive their rightfully owed wages.”

    Senate Bill 193 also creates a task force to promote cooperation between the attorney general and state’s attorneys in enforcing criminal violations of employment laws. It passed the Senate 35-16 and heads to the governor’s desk.

  • Senate overrides veto, protects workers' rights

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    SPRINGFIELD –Today the Illinois Senate voted 42-13 to protect workers’ rights and override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1905, sponsored by Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago). The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act blocks Gov. Rauner’s campaign to engage municipalities in creating right-to-work areas in support of moves to boost corporate profits at the expense of workers.

    Sen. Silverstein released the following statement: "Illinois’ future success depends on its support of the middle class. Workers and employers should not be restricted from bargaining collectively as they continue building our economy, and local governments have no place enforcing a rule that constrains this freedom.

    "The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act upholds the rights of hard working Illinoisans to expect good wages, benefits and working conditions in exchange for their labors. This veto rejects restrictions of those rights and rejects the governor’s continuing efforts to undermine organized labor in a state that relies on it to operate and extend our economy and our future. In spite of efforts by the governor and his pro-corporate profit supporters to squelch these rights, we will not grow our economy by taking part in a race to the bottom in wages earned by Illinois families."

    Senate Bill 1905 passed both houses initially in July with bipartisan support, and was vetoed by the governor on September 29. It now goes to the House for their consideration.

    Other Democratic senators spoke in support of the veto override:

    Senator Cristina Castro (Elgin): “I am happy to see that my colleagues helped protect the people of Illinois by working together to defeat Governor Rauner’s corporate agenda. We can’t let companies profit at the expense of our workers.”

    Senator Scott Bennett (Champaign): “Right-to-work is an inaccurate name for a policy designed to take away rights from hardworking families. This law will help tilt the balance away from big corporations and boardroom executives that work to rig the system at the expense of working families.”

    Senator Tom Cullerton (Villa Park): “Illinois businesses will only thrive if we treat workers with the dignity and respect they deserve. Governor Rauner’s harmful boardroom tactics benefit his friends at the expense of Illinois residents. Rauner’s extreme anti-worker agenda has no place in Illinois.”

    Senator Bill Haine (Alton): “The facts are clear: right-to-work policies do nothing but reduce workers’ wages and make workplaces more dangerous. The governor’s veto was yet another attempt to decrease wages for working families and ensure higher profits for his wealthy friends.”

    Senator Terry Link (Vernon Hills): “At a time when workers’ rights are under constant attack, it is important that we protect the rights of Illinoisans by ensuring that local governments can’t take away those rights. Dismantling collective bargaining rights would lead to lower wages and a loss of benefits for Illinois workers, and I refuse to let that happen.”

    Senator Laura Murphy (Des Plaines): "Since taking office, the governor has attempted to roll back employees’ rights and weaken the unions on the backs of which this state was built. All employees benefit from collective bargaining, even those that do not participate in organized labor. I hope this vote sends a strong message to the governor that I will not support his attack on the middle class.”

    Senator Iris Y. Martinez (Chicago): “Once again, the governor showed that he cares more about big businesses than the citizens of Illinois. Right-to-work laws lower wages, something that would disproportionately harm lower-income Illinoisans. I am glad the Senate stood up to the governor today and protected the hard-working men and women of our state.”

    Senator Bill Cunningham (Chicago): “Right-to-work is wrong for Illinois. Right-to-work and other anti-union measures are designed to do nothing more than lower workers’ wages to pad corporate profits.”

    Senator Don Harmon (Oak Park): “This issue has been litigated several times already, and we have our answer – only the state, not local governments, can create right-to-work laws. The governor’s veto was nothing more than a continuation of his radical anti-union agenda. Today’s override will ensure that workers across the state retain the fair representation they deserve.”

    Senator Kwame Raoul (Chicago): “The governor likes to claim that he’s pro-business, but he supports measures that are anything but. Everyone loses when right-to-work laws are in place. We cannot improve the business climate of Illinois if we implement laws that lower wages and strip away workers’ rights.”

     

     

  • Manar: Right-to-work, lower wages won’t solve Illinois’ economic problems

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  • Hutchinson advances paid sick time proposal in Senate

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  • Harmon: Governor should revive labor negotiations immediately

    afscme3SPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and a bipartisan group of Springfield lawmakers today called for renewed contract negotiations between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the union that represents 38,000 Illinois state workers.

    Harmon noted his support of a measure that would have allowed interest arbitration in the event of an impasse between Rauner, whose anti-union sentiments are well documented, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

    “Twice I passed a bill that would provide for interest arbitration. Twice the governor vetoed that bill, and twice the General Assembly failed to override the veto,” Harmon said. “The governor’s rationale at the time was that he was willing to stay at the bargaining table and negotiate a deal. That sentiment appears to have vanished.”

    AFSCME – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – is the largest union representing state government employees. No contract negotiations between the Rauner administration and the union have occurred since Jan. 8, 2016, when the administration claimed the parties were at impasse.

    More than 30 state lawmakers of both parties and both houses of the Legislature gathered for a news conference Wednesday to show their support for continued good-faith negotiations between the administration and union representatives to avert a labor disruption and bring about an acceptable compromise.

    “I think it is critically important to the people of Illinois that we try to reach an agreement that is fair to everyone and enables us to continue to provide vital services,” Harmon said, adding that Gov. Rauner is not practicing what he preaches when he refuses to participate in negotiations.

    “The governor is demanding that the legislative leaders join him at a bargaining table every day to discuss his agenda and its impact on our state budget,” Harmon said. “I would hope that he would hold himself to that same standard in negotiating with the union and return to the bargaining table immediately.”

  • Lawmakers call on governor, AFSCME to continue labor negotiations (VIDEO, AUDIO)

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  • Ten thousand strong: rally to support working families (VIDEO)

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  • Senate Democrats bring attention to Pay Equity Day (AUDIO)

    Senate Democrats bring attention to Pay Equity DayFor 20 years, Pay Equity Day has highlighted the disparity in workplace earnings between men and women. The day, held in April, represents the extra days a full-time working woman would have to work just to make the same as a man in the previous year.

    State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) passed a resolution in the Senate today highlighting the issue.

    “If women earned the exact same amount as our male counterparts, we would be able to afford seven additional months of mortgage and utility payments or afford nearly two years’ worth of food in one’s lifetime.”

  • Rauner claims impasse in labor negotiations

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  • Forby: AFSCME contract negotiations shouldn’t be politicized

    forby afscmeThe fight for employee equality advanced today when the Illinois Senate voted on two critical measures that ensure working families are given fair wages and benefits. The first measure Senate Bill 1229, which was overridden by the governor, aims to bar the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees from striking or being locked out while a collective bargaining agreement is negotiated.

    The union’s collective barging contract expired on July 1st. The Governor’s office and the state largest labor union AFSCME have yet to reach an agreement.

    State Senator Gary Forby (D- Benton), who serves as the Senate’s Labor Committee Chairman, thinks the measure takes bureaucracy out of the negotiations, which will create a platform for non-politicized negotiations.

    “Since Governor Rauner began his term, he has waged an all-out war against organized labor and working families,” said Forby. “It’s clear the Governor doesn’t want fair negotiations, so if we take the bureaucracy out of the negotiation process, then it gives us a clearer path to reach an agreement.”

  • Senate votes to override Rauner veto of collective bargaining measure (AUDIO)

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