The state budget impacts almost every SEIU Local 73 member.
The budget passed by the General Assembly gives the Governor broad authority to reduce spending to meet decreased revenues. One of the reasons the General Assembly gave Governor Pritzker this unprecedented authority is because the United States Senate has yet to act on federal funding for state and local governments.
Local 73 members worked to get local elected officials to sign a letter to the Illinois Congressional delegation asking for the aid to state and local governments. We got 50 elected officials to sign in 4 days – Democrats and Republicans. The House passed a bill – called the HEROES Act – which provides funding for state and local government. The U.S. Senate, led by Sen. McConnell, has chosen not to act on the legislation.
No budget cuts.
The Illinois budget makes the required pension payment, avoids layoffs, avoids budget cuts to higher education and Secretary of State, increases funding to local governments and K-12 education. Also in this year’s Illinois budget, SEIU Local 73 members who work in state funded facilities which serve developmentally disabled won their $1.50/hour raise. This much-needed wage increase for frontline caregivers will come in two stages – $1/hour on July 1, 2020 and the additional $.50 on January 1, 2021. These jobs are low paying jobs and he members have been on the frontlines during the COVID pandemic.
The second legislative victory for SEIU Local 73 members comes in workers compensation. As you know, workers compensation is available to workers who are injured on the job. The employer pays workers compensation insurance and the workers received medical care and lost wages. SEIU Local 73 worked with the AFL-CIO unions to pass legislation which would make it easier for workers who contract COVID-19 to access the workers compensation benefits. For all of you currently working and those of you returning to work; if you get sick at work with COVID-19 workers compensation may be available to cover the costs of your illness and recovery.
The third big breakthrough for SEIU Local 73 members was the passage of HB 2455 which removes the prohibition against non-instructional education employees receiving unemployment benefits when they are laid off during the 2020 summer months. That means thousands of SEIU Local 73 members who work for school district and universities will be able to qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits this summer. And because of a recent change in federal law, UI benefits will be increased by $600/week through the end of July.
SEIU Local 73 worked in coalition with many other organizations to support the passage of a law making it easier to vote this year. No one should have to risk their life in order to exercise their right to vote. SEIU Local 73 supported Senate Bill 1863 which provides the following:
- The Illinois State Board of Elections will provide a universal vote by mail application and centralized online portal to apply for a ballot by mail.
- Vote by Mail applications will be mailed to voters who early voted or mailed in a ballot in the 2018 general election, 2019 municipal election, or the 2020 primary election.
- Curbside voting where permitted
- Secured mail-in-ballot drop-off boxes
- The General Election Day is declared a State Holiday.
All these voting changes are significant and provide easier access for anyone concerned about contracting COVID-19.
To briefly review this state legislative session – there are no cuts to pensions, Medicaid, higher education or Secretary of State budgets; an increase in local government funding; an increase in K-12 funding; a raise for members working with the developmentally disabled; workers will have easier access to workers compensation if they become ill with COVID-19; the first ever access to unemployment insurance for laid off educational employees during the summer; and expansion of voting access.