Illinois unions made significant gains in recently ended legislative session

Illinois Correspondent

Springfield, IL – Illinois unions made big steps in the recently ended legislative session, a statement from Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea and Secretary-Treasurer Pat Devaney proudly points out.

“The list of successes is long, and we tackled issues that impact working families from creating new opportunities to increase pay equity and transparency with the Equal Pay Scale Act to new prevailing wage provisions and safety protections for our essential workers in the transit industry,” Drea wrote in the statement.

The budget includes wins that support working families, Drea wrote, as a balanced state budget that makes investments in education, workforce development and more.

Among the successes Drea and Devaney listed were:

  • HB 1120 protects Illinois teachers and education professionals working in privately funded charter schools from intimidation or retaliation when they organize to join a union.
  • HB 2396 requires public schools to establish full-day kindergarten by 2027-28, which will boost education while making child care easier for working parents.
  • Gov. JB Pritzker signed a measure to guarantee disability payments to first responders who contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty.
  • HB 1342 allows transit agencies to create procedures to suspend problematic riders, to prioritize the safety and well-being of transit workers and operators.
  • HB 2231 requires rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to abide by the same liability standards as common carriers like taxicabs.
  • HB 1122 creates legal protections for freelance workers to ensure they are properly compensated and hold contracting entities accountable. Meanwhile, the Temp Worker and Fairness Safety Act has passed both chambers ensuring improvement of wages and working conditions for the 650,000 temporary workers across Illinois who suffer injuries at three times the rate of direct-hire employees.
  • The Equal Pay Scale Act requires employers to disclose their pay scale to combat income inequities in the workplace, particularly concerning race and gender.
  • HB 3351 requires all projects funded under the Illinois Solar for All program must pay the prevailing wage to workers.

“The heart of Labor continues to beat strong in Illinois,” Drea wrote.

The $50.6 billion budget approved by the legislature includes $100 million increased funding for public universities and community colleges, as well as another $100 million for the Monetary Assistance Grant program that supports students from working- and middle-class backgrounds toward their college educations. It provides $45 million for a teacher vacancy pilot program, $1.5 million in competitive grants for nursing schools and $2.3 million for the University of Illinois’ Labor and Employment Relations degree and certification programs.

The budget for health care and human services includes wage increases for disability and direct service providers, $75 million to hire more workers for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and nearly $1 million to the Illinois Department of Labor to curb the nursing shortage.

Finally, the Illinois Department of Economic and Community Development will get a $400 million investment for more businesses and jobs; $20 million to address food deserts; $424 million for infrastructure needs from wastewater management to college construction; and $100 million to Rebuild Illinois, investing in capital construction projects.

The full document is available online. Another bill of note to some union workers: HB 2220 gives hotel managers greater authority to remove disruptive guests, including those who refuse to pay, threaten employees or use abusive language.

In all, Illinois lawmakers passed 566 bills through both chambers in the legislative session, all but one in May, according to Capitol News Illinois. The governor then has 60 days to sign or veto each bill, though if he takes no action, it automatically becomes a bill.


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