Midsummer News from Raise the Floor Alliance
It’s been an exciting summer so far for Raise the Floor Alliance and all eight of our member Workers’ Centers, full of motivated campaigning and several big wins.
Here at Raise the Floor, we began advocacy work on HB 1290, the Wage Lien Bill, and made ready to release our latest report on employer retaliation. Our legal department represented dozens of workers, and provided critical support for many more. We reached out to policy makers across Illinois and beyond to build momentum for the Workers’ Center movement.
--But most importantly, Raise the Floor is proud of the system-changing work the Centers continued to forge ahead on: From Warehouse Workers for Justice's marches on Walmart HQ, to the Workers’ Collaborative’s regular Women’s Committee meetings, our worker-member organizations are leading the movement for a just economy. Take a look at the below news from around the Centers.
As always, Raise the Floor could not do the work we do without the generous support of our grounding communities and sponsors. Please take a moment to donate today--and thank you for all you do.
Executive Director, Raise the Floor Alliance
ARISE and ROC Help Chicago Workers Win Paid Sick Days
ARISE and the Restaurant Opportunities Center-Chicago spearheaded the passage of the Earned Sick Time ordinance, which was passed by the City Council in a 48 to 0 vote this June. The ordinance guarantees all Chicago workers the right to take paid time off when they or their loved ones become ill or are injured. Earned Sick Time will benefit over 42% of the city’s private sector workforce, which translates to about 450,000 workers and includes 80% of Chicago’s food service employees, who, until now, did not have any access to sick time whatsoever. Three-quarters of the workers covered by the ordinance are in low-wage jobs earning less than $20,000 per year.
This big win is the direct result of a three-year-long campaign organized by the Earned Sick Time Chicago coalition: a partnership of over 50 unions, community organizations, women’s health and other social justice groups, headed by the two worker centers. ARISE joined with ROC-Chicago and other coalition members to ensure, in the words of ARISE’s Adam Kader, that “people will no longer have to choose between their financial health and their physical or mental health.”
The Workers’ Center for Racial Justice Marches with Black Lives Matter
With the country still reeling from the recent killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling by police, Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) members marched in a protest that shut down the Taste of Chicago festival this past July. WCRJ took to the streets to demand an end to the economic violence that underpins the physical violence perpetrated on Black workers and citizens throughout Chicagoland and across the country. During the march, activists called for tourists to withhold spending money at Taste of Chicago to send a strong message to City Hall: If the city continues not to penalize police officers who kill citizens, then widespread economic protest will ensue.
WCRJ also continued to forge ahead on their own campaigns, including jobs vouchers for formerly incarcerated people, ending discrimination in the temp and construction industries, and police department reform.
Latino Union and ARISE Push to Make the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights a Reality
The Latino Union of Chicago and ARISE took the next step to win basic rights for domestic workers: home cleaners, nannies, home care workers, and others who have been excluded from basic labor protections for almost a century.
Five years of organizing with the Illinois Domestic Workers Coalition locally and the National Domestic Workers Alliance nationally won passage of the IL Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in both the Illinois House and Senate. ARISE and Latino Union members built momentum by making the trip to Springfield this past spring, and told their stories directly to our lawmakers. Thanks to them, all that remains is for Governor Rauner to sign the Bill into reality: This means that domestic workers are extremely close to winning what should be a given for all workers everywhere: minimum wage, freedom from sexual harassment, and assurance of a day of rest.
With only the governor’s signature standing between these basic rights and the sector’s 35,000 workers, the pressure is on to push the Bill over the finish line. The governor has less than a month to sign. You can help by sending a digital postcard in support of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights here.
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos Launches the CARE Community Agreement
In July, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos-Immigrant Workers’ Project held a press conference to launch the Community Alliance for Respect and Empowerment (CARE) Agreement. CARE is a signed agreement between local restaurants, stores, and other businesses in South Chicago and their surrounding community. The agreement is meant to support businesses that understand and enforce employment laws, as well as promote respectful worker treatment. When businesses sign on, they commit to developing a fair vacation days policy, progressive discipline standards, and neutral and accessible grievance procedures, among other provisions. CARE will both recognize and reward businesses that comply with labor law, as well as foster strong locally-owned enterprises that provide quality jobs to community members. Look for the CARE logo in business windows when on the South Side!
Warehouse Workers for Justice and Chicago Workers’ Collaborative Celebrate A Major Victory for Temp Workers
In July, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that temp workers can bargain collectively in the same unit as the permanent employees they work alongside. The decision overturns a Bush-era standard that said that unions could only organize a bargaining unit composed of jointly employed and solely employed workers if both employers consented.
Members of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative and Warehouse Workers for Justice welcomed the news. The ruling represents a victory over corporations that systematically use temp labor in an effort to prevent workers from negotiating with their bosses for benefits and more. Here’s to CWC and WWJ for pushing ahead!
Chicago Community and Worker’s Rights Fights for Protection for Immigrant Residents
Chicago Community and Worker’s Rights (CCWR) continued work as a member of the Chicago Policy Immigration Working Group: a coalition that includes Organized Communities Against Deportations, the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Fight for $15 Chicago, the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center, the Latino Union of Chicago, the Southwest Organizing Project, and many more. For over two years, the coalition has been calling on the City of Chicago to strengthen protections for immigrant residents by supporting amendments to Chicago’s Welcoming Cities Ordinance. Amendments include a provision that would prohibit employees--including police officers--from using deportation as a threat or otherwise questioning someone’s immigration status. The Chicago Policy Immigration Working Group will continue to call on Mayor Emanuel and City Council to stand with immigrant communities, until the protections are won.