The outlook for working people in 2020 is dire. Working families are staring down an ongoing global pandemic coupled with a devastated labor market. Frontline workers struggle to secure the most basic personal protective equipment and frequently must choose between a paycheck and public health. Over 1 million Illinoisans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past 2 months. Historic inequities and unequal community investment means both fronts of this dual crisis are landing heavily in low-income communities of color, who have been left out of many worker protections since long before COVID-19.
With the Illinois General Assembly returning to work today, our leaders need information about options and priorities to reduce harm and create opportunity in our communities.
For example, elected officials can use federal emergency funds to establish a “Barrier Reduction Fund” to address discrete barriers to employment for job seekers enrolled in training or education.
Another option our leaders have is to eliminate driver’s license suspensions for failure to pay tickets, fines, fees, or child support, and for failure to appear in court, as license suspension contributes unnecessarily to unemployment and is counterproductive given the need for social distancing.
These organizations support the Skills Agenda:
Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition
Chicago Jobs Council
Chicago Urban League
Illinois YouthBuild Coalition