Governor Rauner’s Anti-Women Agenda

Nancy Chen

On October 30, community leaders, state leaders and union members gathered together to discuss the effects that the so-called reforms that Governor Rauner is pushing would have on the DuPage County area. Former Midwest Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, Nancy Chen articulated the effects on women. Her remarks are included below.

I am here today to provide a voice for working women in Illinois. For 14 years, I was honored to be the Midwest Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. The mission of the Women’s Bureau has been and still is to improve women’s working conditions, to advance their employment opportunities and to close the wage gap. The Women’s Bureau has always recognized the importance of unions to help working women reach economic equality.

Data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics have consistently shown that union women workers earn more and have better working conditions and benefits than non-union women workers in similar fields. In 2014, on average, women earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. But women workers covered by unions earned 88 cents for every dollar earned by men. For minority women in unions, the advantage is even greater. Black union workers earn $146 per week more and Hispanic workers earn $235 more per week than their non-union counterparts.

Based on these statistics, I believe Governor Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda taking away public employees’ right to collective bargaining is particularly detrimental to women. You see, women comprise over half the state and local government employees in the fields of teaching, nursing, health and child care services. These are what we traditionally called “pink collar” jobs that paid less and offered fewer benefits. Through collective bargaining, women workers in these fields can now earn a decent living for themselves and their families.

The Governor is holding the state budget hostage for his Turnaround Agenda, using that as an excuse to slash the childcare assistance program and the community and home health care program for low income workers. Most of the workers who need affordable child care are women, and many are single parents. They don’t make 57 million dollars as the Governor did last year. In fact, they make one tenth of one percent or even less of what he makes. Without the child care assistance, these women would not be able to afford to go to work or have to cut their hours of work to care for their children.

In addition, many child care and community and home health care providers are also women. Their jobs are eliminated because of the budget cut. I call the Governor’s agenda an anti-women, anti-family agenda. It seems that the Turnaround Agenda is literally for the Governor to turn around and cut the Illinois State budget on the back of working women and their families.

On a personal note, I want to mention that when I came to this country almost 50 years ago as a student from a rather authoritarian state, I was greatly impressed by the democracy practiced by the government and by the people. Workplace democracy depends on the workers’ right to collective bargaining. It dismays me a great deal that 50 years later, we are seeing our elected officials working to demolish this democratic process that has distinguished America from many authoritarian states. This must not happen in the State of Illinois.

IDW 2015 Convention – Award Series – Emily Taft Douglas Award – State Senator Toi Hutchinson

Toi Hutchinson

Senator Toi Hutchinson has earned a reputation as a highly effective and well-regarded public servant with a strong commitment to the residents of the 40th District.

Since joining the Senate in 2009, Hutchinson has placed a high importance on working to modernize Illinois’ antiquated tax structure, protecting women and children from violence and exploitation and supporting construction projects that create jobs while also maintaining Illinois’ position as an international transportation hub.

As Chairwoman of the Senate Revenue Committee, Hutchinson has introduced legislation to close corporate tax loopholes, which would make corporations pay their fair share and help ensure the state doesn’t balance its budget on the backs of middle-class families. Hutchinson also passed a law increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as well as the standard tax exemption, allowing working families to keep more of their hard-earned money.

She has passed many laws that protect women, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Hutchinson passed a law safeguarding pregnant women in the workplace from discrimination. Hutchinson also teamed with Attorney General Lisa Madigan to make Illinois the first state in the nation to pass a law mandating the testing of all rape kits within ten days of obtaining evidence. Working with the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Hutchinson passed a law that allows a victim of sex trafficking to apply for relief from judgment when the victim has a prostitution conviction. Hutchinson has also worked to strengthen anti-cyberstalking laws and passed a law to increase the penalty for financially exploiting seniors and people with disabilities.

Hutchinson has been an ardent supporter of transportation development in the 40th District. She passed a law creating the Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District that will eventually construct a new Metra line connecting eleven South Suburban communities with downtown Chicago. In 2013, she passed the first public-private financing agreement in Illinois. This growing method of financing public projects is gaining popularity nationwide as costs to expand and develop transportation infrastructure continue to rise.

As a mother of three children who attended public schools, Hutchinson has placed high importance on improving public education in Illinois. Concerned about the increasing number of students, especially African-American boys, who receive severe disciplinary action that keeps them out of the classroom, Hutchinson passed a law to study the problem and work with school districts to reduce expulsions and suspensions.

Hutchinson earned a Bachelor of English degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a law degree from Northern Illinois University College of Law.

Hutchinson lives with her family in Olympia Fields.

IDW 2015 Convention – Award Series – Hillary Clinton Award – Jackie Traynere

Carol Ronen

Jackie Traynere was born in Hinsdale Illinois in 1962, the eldest of two children born to Philip and Phyllis Wilson. Spent most of her childhood in Bolingbrook and attended Bolingbrook High. Was married young at 16 and gave birth to 2 children by age 20. After divorcing, she attended a few college courses but most of her education has been through life experience, with the exception of attending Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government Local and Executive leader program in 2013. She was the primary caregiver to both aging parents at different times from 1989 through 1997. In 2002 they both passed away. She was remarried in 2002, to Joseph Traynere.

She is running for her 3rd term on the Will County Board in 2016. In her first race she lost by 89 votes in 2006, if at first you don’t succeed, worked for Jackie. She currently serves on the Will County Board’s Finance and Public Health Committees, previously on Legislative and Capital Improvements Committee.

Will County Executive Larry Walsh appointed Jackie to The Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau and the National Association of Counties and Waste Management to promote the county use of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funds to construct the Gas to energy plant that is now up and run. She spends spare time serving on the “Citizens Against Abuse” board, an organization that fights domestic abuse through education.

She is a 2006 alumna of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership, and is a sitting board member, she credits this program with every bit of success that she have had as a candidate and elected official. The training received and encouragement has led to her successful involvement in many other endeavors outside of political office as well.

She has been working for the American Federation of Government Employees union the last 20 years, 17 of which have been as a labor organizer. She also co-owns a residential cleaning business that is eco-friendly and services a large part of Will County. They work with an organization called Cleaning For A Reason, a non-profit giving women with cancer free cleaning while they are undergoing chemo and radiation therapy. To date they have given away over 150 free house cleanings.

Jackie has been a lifelong resident of Bolingbrook and has participated in movements to stop an immigration detention facility and abuse of Wal-Mart workers. She cares deeply about Will County and making sure that government is accountable, transparent and listens to the residents. She will continue to work at bringing Will County and its infrastructure into the 21st Century if reelected.

She recently started a Will County chapter of IDW, the chapter, called Women of Will has just about 60 members and was chartered in June of this year.

IDW 2015 Convention – Award Series – Eleanor Roosevelt Award – Carol Ronen

Carol Ronen

Carol Ronen served in the Illinois State Senate from 2000 until she retired in February, 2008. Carol was honored to represent one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse areas in the country that includes the Chicago neighborhoods of Edgewater, Andersonville, Bowmanville , Uptown, Lincoln Square, and Rogers Park.
Prior to her service in the Senate, she served seven years in the Illinois House of Representatives. The focus of her work in the Illinois General Assembly included fierce support of Nurses, commitment to human rights and equality and advocacy on behalf of children and child safety. Legislation she passed focused upon early childhood development; health care; violence prevention; and protecting human rights…including a woman’s right to reproductive choice.

During her tenure in the Senate she Chaired the Health & Human Services Committee where she helped author and pass legislation guaranteeing healthcare to every child and universal pre-k to every four year old.

She also Chaired of the Labor and Commerce Committee, where she led the successful effort to increase the minimum wage in Illinois and pass the Equal Pay act which increased the number of women covered by equal pay protections and provided for strong state enforcement.

In addition, Ronen was the lead senate sponsor of the Illinois Human Rights act, landmark legislation protecting Illinoisans from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Passage of the bill culminatied12 years of work and fulfilled a personal commitment she made when she first ran for office – to extend equal protection to Illinois gay, lesbian and trans-gendered citizens. Illinois was one of only five states in the nation to pass such sweeping protections.

Senator Ronen was been one of the most steadfast supporters of Illinois nurses. From her first year in the general assembly she championed the need to expand access to quality health care by greater utilization of Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs). She was the sponsor of a 1996 bill that allowed APNs to establish practices in Illinois.

Carol is an active player in Democratic politics at the local, state and federal level. She is the 48th Ward Democratic Committeeman and a member of the Cook County Democratic Party. She is also the Democratic State Central Committeewoman for the 9th Congressional District where she helps to shape the Illinois Democratic Party Platform and slate statewide candidates. At the national level Carol is a member of the Democratic National Committee, representing Illinois in the process to select a Democratic nominee for President. She is a pledged delegate for Hillary Clinton and looks forward to being part of the process to elect the first woman President.

Helping women get elected to office is a driving interest. To further this goal Carol helped found Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes, an Illinois state political action committee that supported the election of progressive Democratic women in the Illinois General Assembly and she is a founding member and on the Advisory Board of Illinois Women in Leadership, a group which mentors young women who seek to run for office.
Carol holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Roosevelt University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Bradley University. She resides in Chicago’s Edgewater Neighborhood and she is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan…this may be the year!

Thanks to All for A Great Convention!

Thanks to all who made the 2015 IDW Convention a success. A special thanks to the staff at the UAW Pat Greathouse Education Center for providing outstanding facilities and service.

Some convention attendees assembled before lunch

Illinois Budget

Elaine-NekritzBy Rep. Elaine Nekritz, Assistant Majority Leader, Illinois House

Needless to say, the last few months have been a challenge in Illinois state government.  It appears that Governor Rauner has all along been pushing toward government shut down – and now he has what he wants.  Before he will even consider negotiating a budget, he has demanded that the General Assembly pass a number of the items on his “Turn Around” agenda.  The policies he is pursuing will do nothing to help us balance our state budget and are, in fact, completely unrelated to the budget.  This is an unprecedented and unwelcome tactic.  Former Republican Governor Jim Edgar has been very public in his statements that he never held the budget hostage for non-budget  matters.

The stakes are too high and the collateral damage is too painful to continue on this path.  But it gets worse.  The policies Governor Rauner is pursuing are very similar to those pushed by Republican governors in other states.  We need look no further than our neighbor to the north, Wisconsin, to see the impact of those policies.  Wisconsin is currently “enjoying” a $2.2 billion budget deficit and, since 2000, that state has experienced the largest drop in average wages of any state in the country.  In Kansas, the Republican legislature is fighting with the Republican governor because the tax cuts that were designed to stimulate economic growth (sound familiar?) instead resulted in massive budget deficits.  The last thing Illinois needs are policies that result in bigger budget deficits and more loss for the middle class.

I am hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and we can come together to solve our immediate problems.  The Governor and the legislature will have different ideas on how to balance the budget. But with dialogue and compromise we can get there.  For the good of all Illinois citizens, we must get there.

Top 15 New Illinois Laws for 2015

15for15-featureOn January 1st, we woke up to a new year. We also woke up to new and revised laws enacted by state lawmakers and the governor to improve our lives. Safety, convenience, transparency, health and fairness are the inspiration, and many new laws are directly inspired by constituents. Check out the top 15 new Illinois laws for 2015 here.


Illinois’ Democratic organization advocates for state-wide candidates

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Democratic Women announced Thursday its candidate endorsements for the upcoming November 2014 general election. Illinois Democratic Women is a statewide grassroots organization working for more equitable representation and participation of Democrat women in all levels of the Democratic Party and government.

            U.S. Senate: Dick Durbin

            Governor and Lt. Governor: Pat Quinn/Paul Vallas

            Secretary of State: Jesse White

            Attorney General: Lisa Madigan

            State Treasurer: Mike Frerichs

            Comptroller: Sheila Simon

“We believe IDW has endorsed candidates who best reflect Democratic principles and values. These candidates have demonstrated time and time again that their mission is to serve as public servants who strive to improve the economic and societal lives of Illinoisans,” said Pam Monetti, Co-President of Illinois Democratic Women. “We are proud to stand by the Democratic slate of statewide candidates in Illinois.”