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
By Will Evans
As a teenager, Carol Ammons worked as a temporary employee for a factory that needed extra labor over the holiday season.
Now, as an Illinois state representative, Ammons is hoping to change the very nature of temp work in Illinois. The Urbana Democrat announced new legislation Wednesday that takes on discrimination and exploitation in an industry that’s among the fastest-growing sectors in the workforce.
The bill would impose new rules on how temp workers are hired, paid and treated on the job.
“We know there are good temp work firms that follow the law,” Ammons said in an interview. “But there are also those that are unfortunately predatory in their actions, and they take advantage of their workers.”
Read More at Reveal
By Claire Bushey
A new bill in Springfield that would add protections for temporary workers follows the playbook for labor advocates nationwide: Push for change in the states, because the federal government isn't coming to help.
Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, plans to introduce legislation targeting staffing companies that supply temporary workers to companies in industries like manufacturing and logistics. Staffing companies employ roughly 800,000 workers in Illinois. If passed, the bill would mandate that temporary workers receive the same pay as full-time employees and make it harder for companies to fire them for questioning pay or working conditions.
Read more at Crain's Chicago Business
By Tom Kacich
SPRINGFIELD — Legislation aimed at improving working conditions for Illinoisans who work in the temporary-jobs industry was introduced Wednesday by state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana.
HB 690, referred to by supporters as the Responsible Job Creation Act, would affect as many as 800,000 Illinois residents employed by temporary-job agencies, primarily in manufacturing and warehouses, according to the American Staffing Association.
"Unfortunately in Illinois, people are suffering, are abused in hard, worn-down temporary jobs, all with no benefits for their families," Ammons said at a Statehouse news conference. "While direct hires at least receive a wage that they can live on, the conditions for temporary workers are not the same."
Read More at the News-Gazette
By Sonia Singh
As the reality of a Donald Trump presidency sets in, unions and workers centers are gearing up for a massive fight to defend immigrant members, building on lessons from the past decade.
Undocumented workers are at risk both from the government and from their employers. Sometimes employers are under government pressure themselves. Other times they’re using the threat of immigration enforcement to discourage organizing or keep workplace standards low.
Read more at Labor Notes
By Olivia LaVecchia
Amazon’s been expanding its infrastructure at a breakneck pace. Between the summer of 2015 and the summer of 2016, Amazon’s network of distribution facilities doubled in number, as it rolled out 14 of its massive fulfillment centers, 11 new sortation centers, and 60 smaller facilities like delivery stations and Prime Now hubs. In July, the company announced that it would have 18 more new fulfillment centers up and running by the end of September. “It’s the biggest expansion of any distribution system for any retailer that we’ve ever seen,” says Mark Meinster, the executive director of a worker center based in the Chicago area.
Many of the facilities have been financed partly by taxpayers. Amazon has pocketed at least $613 million in public subsidies for its fulfillment facilities since 2005, our new report finds, and more than half of the 77 large facilities it built between 2005 and 2014 have been subsidized by taxpayers.
Read More at the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR)
By ALLISON SELK
Those who know Charlotte Droogan say she has a mission to change her community and the world.
Droogan, a retired Bolingbrook teacher, has spent the last 14 years as a lay community minister at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet – a role in which she leads the congregation to action.
“My job has been to take the church outside of the four walls of the church building,” Droogan said. “We have done AIDS support groups in the 1990s, health outreach, night ministry bus in Chicago, stand for marriage equality, spoke at the capital in Springfield, worked with Warehouse Workers for Justice – all networking, political action and witness to the community.”
Read more about Long-time WWJ Supporter Charlotte Droogan Here