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Fair Labor Standards Act
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:38pm
Wed Jul 13

Advocates Urge Gov. Rauner To Sign Illinois Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights

Illinois caregivers, housecleaners and their advocates rallied at the Thompson Center Wednesday, urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

The Illinois General Assembly approved the measure during the last legislative session and sent it to the governor on June 26.

Rauner has 60 days to take action on the legislation, which would ensure that domestic workers in Illinois are paid no less than the minimum wage, receive at least one day off a week and have protections against sexual harassment.

Magdalena Zylinska is among the 35,000 estimated domestic workers in Illinois. She's a housecleaner in Chicago who organizes domestic workers with the Arise Chicago worker center.

"Since the domestic work industry is rapidly growing, and it is a very critical part of our state, I think it is a matter of urgency for this bill to pass," she said. "Also, as domestic workers, we make all other work possible. We take care of children, aging loved ones, people living with disabilities and the homes of families. We want to be recognized as real workers, and we want to be treated with respect."

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
3:45pm
Fri Jul 8

Op-Ed: The Supreme Court Gets It Right On Home Care – Now It’s Gov. Rauner’s Turn

The following was written by Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas. 

Last week, working people won a long overdue victory when the Supreme Court decided to let stand a new federal rule that prevents homecare employers from denying their workers minimum wage or overtime pay. The decision will help bring to an end a nearly 80-year policy of discrimination against more than 2 million workers who take care of our nation's elderly and people with disabilities.

It should also serve as a wake-up-call for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is trying to bully thousands of working women of color who care for our state's elderly and people with disabilities into a deal that would deny them the ability to care for their own families.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:48am
Fri Nov 7, 2014

Panelists: Movement For Domestic Workers' Rights Is Growing, But Much Work Remains

The national movement to win dignity and labor protections for domestic workers is growing, but there remains much work ahead to ensure nannies, house cleaners and caregivers are guaranteed basic rights on the job.

Domestic workers, Arise Chicago organizers and author Sheila Bapat spoke on the status of the domestic worker movement at a Thursday evening panel discussion at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Gallery 400. Bapat recently wrote a book on the fight to secure rights for domestic workers.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:23pm
Mon Dec 2, 2013

National Report: Many Domestic Workers Struggle To Make Ends Meet Due To Low Wages, Few Benefits

The country's growing number of in-home workers are more likely to live in poverty compared to those in other occupations due to low wages and the lack of benefits they typically receive, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows.

In 2012, there were nearly 2 million domestic workers, such as nannies, house cleaners and caregivers, most of whom were women and disproportionately immigrant, according to the report. Overall, in-home workers made up 1.6 percent of the nation's total workforce last year.

Many in-home workers are susceptible to exploitation on the job because they typically do not have employment contracts with their employer and often work in the shadows, the report noted.

“In-home workers, who are mostly female and largely women of color and immigrants, are a critical and growing part of the economy, yet they are grievously underpaid and lack the benefits that similar workers receive in other sectors,” EPI economist and the report's author Heidi Shierholz said in a statement. “Our country is wealthy enough so that workers who play such vital caretaking roles should be able to earn a decent wage. We need policies to protect these workers and help ensure they’re paid what they deserve.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:21pm
Tue Oct 1, 2013

New Protections For Home Health Workers Paves Way For Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights

Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new regulations that would grant millions of in-home health care workers the right to a minimum wage and overtime pay as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Under the Labor Department's new rule, which takes effect January 1, 2015, nearly 2 million workers who provide direct in-home assistance to the elderly and those with disabilities, illnesses or injuries would be entitled to the same basic labor protections most American workers already receive. 

Since 1974, direct care workers have been excluded from federal minimum wage and overtime laws after being put into a "companion services" category, which is the same as babysitters and is a group that is exempt from such protections.

Illinois, along with 14 other states, however, already extend state minimum wage and overtime protections to direct care workers, so the new rule won't have as big of an impact in the Prairie State as compared to others.

Nonetheless, Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said the new regulations are a crucial step forward in the effort to stabilize a rapidly-growing workforce comprised of mainly women, particularly women of color and immigrants.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:58pm
Wed Apr 24, 2013

Domestic Workers' Bill Of Rights Expected To Go Up For Vote In Illinois Senate Thursday

A measure that would recognize the legal rights of domestic workers in Illinois is expected to go up for a vote in the state Senate Thursday.

The Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights Act, SB 1708, sponsored by State Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), would require that employers of nannies, house cleaners and caregivers pay their workers no less than the  minimum wage and allow for a least one day off a week.

The measure, which has 13 co-sponsors in the Senate, would also require written contracts and guarantee the right to paid time off, pay for all work hours, meal and rest periods, and an environment free from sexual harassment.

“It’s basically time to really cut some of the last remaining, obvious cords connected to slavery that we still have,” said Eric Rodriguez, executive director of the Latino Union of Chicago, one of the lead organizations pushing for the bill.