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  • Tim Bell

Workers Speak about Jobs as Part of Governor Pritzker’s Workforce Commission on Equity and Access

How to find good jobs and how to prepare for them. Workers discuss workforce development policies with Governor’s Office representatives

February 1st, Waukegan- Last week, Chicago Workers Collaborative (CWC) worker members spoke to representatives from Governor Pritzker’s Commission on Workforce Equity and Access. The meeting was facilitated by the Co-Chair of the Commission’s User and Stakeholder Subcommittee and CWC’s Executive Director, Oswaldo Álvarez. Nine workers of color voiced their dreams about good jobs and their vision of a more inclusive workforce development system that would improve job quality and enable them to provide better lives for their families. When asked what is a good job, workers focused on the need for respect and equity. “We want jobs that treat us as people, not animals,” said one worker. “We like to work for employers who care for their employees, who offer stability and equal pay for equal work,” added another worker.

When seeking jobs, most of the workers described how they felt discrimination. One participant summed up the consensus, “We often feel employers judge us by our accent and don’t pay us the same as the other workers because we are not white. As a woman, I know that I won’t be paid the same as a man for the same work. I would rather run my own business.”

Another take-away from the group was a deep mistrust of government agencies, such as unemployment offices. Comments included: “Government agencies do not have any empathy or care for us.” “They treat us as numbers instead of people.” “I know if I go to the unemployment office, I know I am going to waste my whole day. I would only go there as a last resort.”

Many of the participants expressed concerns that unemployment offices and workforce development agencies were likely to place them in the same jobs they could find themselves. Workers overwhelmingly agreed that job training which includes skill learning, language learning, and learning about workers rights are critical in preparing job-seekers to find jobs that offer fair treatment. Workers also agreed that community organizations are much more trusted. “I think they care more about us because they are from our community. They will be there to support and advise us after we get the job, too.” “I think community organizations like CWC are a good bridge that would help us to have a good job and good pay,” one worker concluded. CWC’s members stated that they are grateful to Governor Pritzker and the Commission for taking their views into consideration. They are hopeful that Illinois can create a system of workforce development grounded in trusted nonprofit organizations staffed and run by the community.

Founded in 2000, the Chicago Workers' Collaborative promotes the creation of stable, living wage jobs with race, class, and gender equity for precarious workers in the Chicago region.

People-Driven Solutions


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