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We are encouraged by Governor Pritzker’s State of the State and Budget Address, particularly the inclusion of a state Child Tax Credit. This proposal marks a significant step towards providing economic relief and support to thousands of families in Illinois. Child poverty was cut in half as a result of Biden's expanding Child Tax Credit in 2021. Childhood hunger was dramatically reduced, educational outcomes were improved, and there was a boost in the economy as a whole. With the prices of goods and services increasing, our families have a greater need for the Child Tax Credit than ever before.

With a state Child Tax Credit, parents will have enough money to spend on food, formula, bills, and clothes for their growing children. It empowers them to make decisions that are in the best interest of their families. By recognizing parents' crucial role in nurturing their children's well-being, this proposal acknowledges the importance of financial stability for families.

For the families of the Workers Center for Racial Justice, the impact of a state Child Tax Credit will be transformative. Many parents struggle to make ends meet, often facing financial challenges unique to their communities. By providing financial support, this tax credit will help alleviate some of their burden, allowing them to focus on providing for their children's basic needs.

We applaud the Governor's commitment to supporting families, particularly those from marginalized communities. Illinois ranks as the poorest state for racial financial equality. Research shows that 60% of state CTC money is allocated directly to black and brown families. A state Child Tax Credit will help alleviate systemic disparities and promote a more equitable society for all Illinois residents.

We look forward to working closely with Governor Pritzker, the General Assembly, and other stakeholders to ensure the Child Tax Credit is implemented and reaches families that need it the most. Let’s make Illinois the 15th state to have a Child Tax Credit. Together, we can create a future where every family in Illinois has access to the resources they need to thrive.

In Solidarity,

The Workers Center for Racial Justice


Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) is thrilled to announce the successful passage of a groundbreaking bill that eliminates the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers in the city of Chicago. This significant achievement marks a major step in ensuring equitable pay for all workers, and makes Chicago the biggest U.S. city to independently abolish the sub-minimum wage.

Through strategic partnerships, grassroots organizing, and relentless advocacy efforts, WCRJ engaged with community leaders, service workers, high-road restaurant owners, and policymakers to build a broad coalition of support for this critical bill. Its passage is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of everyone involved in this transformative movement.

The sub-minimum wage is a legacy of slavery and the Jim Crow era that still endures to this day. After the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, employers resisted paying formerly enslaved Black workers by “hiring” them, but forcing them to work on gratuities alone. In the years that followed reconstruction, continuing anti-Black sentiment quashed various attempts to win fair pay for tipped workers: today, the federally mandated sub-minimum wage sits at $2.13/hour.

More than two-thirds of tipped workers are women, and disproportionately women of color. The sub-minimum wage forces women to endure harassment and abuse from customers in order to earn enough tips to survive, and its continued use systematically devalues women’s labor.

WCRJ member & leader, Kaileigh Reynolds, has worked in the service industry for over four years. She shares her experiences with the subminimum wage:

“Taking into consideration that I am the only black woman working at this River North [Chicago] establishment, the actions of my bosses and even some customers make me feel exploited. It forces me to sell my personality, my appearance, and my well-being… when my skirt is shorter my tips are higher, when my makeup is done there’s a few extra dollars on the line before people sign [their bills]. In the end, I’m working essentially to survive, not to live. I have to spend most days pulling double shifts that can often add up to 14 hours per day, for multiple days at a time.”

Recognizing the devastating impact that the sub-minimum wage has had for many of our members, Workers Center for Racial Justice, One Fair Wage, Our Revolution, Women Employed, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Fight for $15, Arise Chicago, SEIU Healthcare, and other partners embarked on a tireless campaign to advocate for the rights of tipped workers and eliminate this unfair wage structure.

Under the newly passed bill, Chicago’s current sub-minimum wage of $9.48 per hour will be phased out. It will gradually increase each year for five years, until it is equal to Chicago’s standard hourly minimum wage of $15.80. This legislation not only serves as a model for other cities but also sets a precedent for the state and the country, demonstrating that eliminating sub-minimum wage disparities is not only feasible but also necessary in creating a fair and equitable society.

Data from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division shows that states where tipped workers are paid a higher wage have lower poverty rates than those paying a sub-minimum wage. Additionally, servers across all categories report higher earnings overall in states that have adopted One Fair Wage laws.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude and admiration for the dedicated individuals and organizations who worked on this policy, including One Fair Wage, Our Revolution, Women Employed, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Fight for $15, Arise Chicago, SEIU Healthcare, and the many tipped workers who gave their time and stories to this campaign.

We'd also like to thank the elected officials who championed this bill, especially Chicago Alderman Desmon Yancy and Mayor Brandon Johnson.

As we celebrate this significant milestone, the Workers Center for Racial Justice remains steadfast in our mission to advocate for fair labor practices that improve the lives of low-wage workers and end the exploitation of workers of color.

For myths and facts about laws eliminating the sub-minimum wage, see this fact sheet of research compiled by our partners at the One Fair Wage national organization.


A word from our Executive Director on the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the action we must take

Yesterday was a dark day in this country's history. The Supreme Court just told women in this country that they are essentially second-class citizens, who don't have the right to control their own bodies. In the past, the court has made rulings that have perpetuated the subjugation of certain groups of people by the states. But this is the first time that the Court has actively taken away a constitutional right that it had previously given. And, as is typical in this country, it will have an especially devastating impact on women of color. Unfortunately, it won't stop with Roe. Marriage equality, access to contraception, interracial marriage, and every other right that is derived from the basic fundamental right to privacy is on the chopping block under this Court. The fight must now move from the courts to the political arena - and not a single one of us can afford to sit this fight out, as many have in the past. It started in 2014 when we failed to turn out for the Midterm Elections. We gave control of the Senate to Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party, who promptly stole a Supreme Court seat from Democrats. It continued into 2016 when our side didn't show up to vote and the country elected Donald Trump, who in turn put in three new Supreme Court Justices, all with the same regressive ideology and all of whom just voted to overturn Roe. Our side needs to turn out like never before in this upcoming Midterm.

WCRJ's sister 501c4 organization, the Center for Racial and Gender Equity (CRGE) and our affiliated Racial Justice PAC are working in Congressional races in Illinois and Wisconsin, to make sure we send people to Congress who will fight to secure full reproductive justice for all, including the right to abortion, access to maternal health care, and the investments needed to care and provide for our children.

I have two important requests to make of you. First, please consider making a donation to our sister 501c4, the Center for Racial and Gender Equity, or to Racial Justice PAC so we have the resources needed to make sure we win at the ballot box in November. Between Illinois and Wisconsin, we will be working on six competitive House races and one Senate race that will determine who controls Congress. If we mobilize progressive-minded voters in both states, and support Wisconsin voters in overcoming active voter suppression attempts, we can help ensure that more power doesn’t fall into anti-democratic hands. Second, please sign up to volunteer to help us knock doors, make phone calls, and send text messages to voters in Illinois and Wisconsin, urging them to vote in November. We need to make multiple contacts with every voter, and work as hard as the situation demands - like our rights depend on it. The decision today was not just an attack on women's reproductive rights, it was an attack on all of the rights that we hold dear. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. Yours in Struggle,

DeAngelo Bester Executive Director

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