By Livia Gershon
For more than 20 years, Rachel Schlueter had been a teacher in the Milwaukee public school system, and—like all her colleagues—a member of the teacher's union.
"I paid my dues, and if I had a problem, I would call the union, so usually I really had very little contact," she said.
That was before 2011, when the Wisconsin Legislature passed Act 10, Republican governor Scott Walker's plan to drastically reduce the power of the state's public sector unions and reduce the budgets for public schools. Because of Act 10, Schlueter said, her take-home pay dropped by $8,000 thanks to her being required to make increased contributions to her health and retirement benefits. But it also made her realize how important fighting for their union was. Suddenly she was going to rallies, spending whole days at the state house waiting to testify before committees, and meeting a whole new group of activist teacher friends on Facebook. When there was a proposal to replace many Milwaukee schools with charters—something she believed would hurt the city's students—she and her new friends beat it back.
Read More at Vice News
By Jeff Schuhrke
Sweeping legislation introduced in the Illinois state legislature last month would dramatically improve pay, benefits and working conditions for almost a million of the state’s temp workers toiling in factories, warehouses and offices.
The Responsible Job Creation Act, sponsored by State Rep. Carol Ammons, aims to transform the largely unregulated temporary staffing industry by introducing more than 30 new worker protections, including pay equity with direct hires, enhanced safety provisions, anti-discrimination measures and protection from retaliation.
The innovative law is being pushed by the worker centers Chicago Workers’ Collaborative (CWC) and Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ), which say it would restore the temp industry to its original purpose of filling short-term, seasonal labor needs and recruiting new employees into direct-hire jobs.
Read More at In These Times
By Representative Carol Ammons
All of us are feeling it. We see it happening every day. While representing constituents in Illinois’ 103rd district, I watch the tragedy of an entire state losing good, blue collar jobs on a constant basis.
In the case of Illinois, we’re not just losing jobs to competition overseas or across state lines. Our state is hemorrhaging so much crucial economic activity because companies are overusing and abusing a permanent “temporary” workforce.
Many of us know them as “temps.”
Somewhere along the way, we let good, full-time jobs go bad and go away. Jobs that built our middle class with stability, living wages, health care and retirement benefits.
It’s tragic because Illinois is one of the most vital and influential distribution hubs in the country. Perhaps, even, in the world. We enjoy a rich, vibrant and intersecting network of highways and railways keeping us at the center of the production and movement of goods. These products are at the heart of major American business operations like Walmart and Amazon.
Read More at WEAA-FM