Ahead of Monday's city council meeting on the 2021 budget, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) is amplifying community demands for a city spending plan that reflects the true priorities and values of Chicago residents.
Take 30 seconds to send a quick one-click message urging Chicago lawmakers to enact a city budget that will promote real safety, equity, and justice in our communities.
Several weeks ago, the city of Chicago quietly released the results of a public survey on the 2021 budget. According to the report, 87% of the 37,000 respondents support spending cuts for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and a reallocation of those funds to city programs that promote real safety, equity, and opportunity in our communities.
Despite the overwhelming constituent support for equitable redistribution of CPD's bloated budget, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has put forth a 2021 spending plan that represents a troubling continuation of Chicago's failed approach to public safety investment. The mayor's proposal would maintain the city's reckless overspending on ineffective, inhumane, and racially targeted systems of law enforcement. Moreover, Lightfoot's budget would perpetuate dangerous austerity conditions on vital human services such as housing, public health, and family services.
WCRJ has advanced a community-driven proposal for Equitable Public Safety Reinvestment that addresses the key city spending concerns voiced by the tens of thousands of Chicagoans who participated in the city's budget survey.
WCRJ's three year plan calls for a series of funding reductions to CPD, as well as concurrent budget increases to social services and public health programs. The proposal also provides for a newly established Community Safety Unit to deliver residents emergency public safety dispatch services, outside of law enforcement.
Your advocacy is essential to ensuring that our budget priorities are included in Chicago's 2021 spending plan.
Take 30 seconds to send a prewritten email urging every member of the Chicago City Council to adopt WCRJ's budget recommendations.
Throughout Illinois, powerful union contracts shield police officers from investigations of alleged misconduct and abuse. Local police unions, like Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), have negotiated watertight municipal agreements that are engineered to obstruct nearly any effort to regulate departments or hold individual officers accountable for criminal acts. Many of these measures are also mirrored in Illinois statute.
Impunity provisions in police contracts and state law are a key driver of racialized officer brutality and corruption. Armored by unjust contract protections, police officers are often emboldened to exceed the limits of their powers with the assurance of virtual immunity.
Earlier this month, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ), in partnership with Representative Carol Ammons, introduced state legislation to outlaw police contract measures that obstruct open investigation of alleged officer misconduct and thwart efforts to enact meaningful police reform. HB 5830 would restore the intended purpose of collective bargaining rights, by limiting police union agreements exclusively to matters of compensation and wages. The proposed legislation would also repeal sections of Illinois law that echo police contract impunity provisions.
Take 30 seconds to urge members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to prioritize passage of HB 5830 in the November session.
Workers' rights to collectively bargain are a vital mechanism for ensuring equity and justice in our labor system - and by extension, throughout our society as a whole. And yet, for nearly half a century, politicized unions, like the FOP, have worked in bad faith to undermine the rightful intentions behind these powers. In municipalities across the state, police unions weaponize bargaining rights as a means to evade accountability for officer wrongdoing and perpetuate systems of racialized police violence, abuse, and corruption.
Historically, when unions have exploited collective bargaining powers to advance ulterior ends outside the scope of labor rights, the law has intervened. For example, in decades past, when workers' unions negotiated racially exclusionary contract terms, the courts ruled these activities to be unlawful.
Amid recent, heightened calls for racial justice across the U.S., Washington D.C. unanimously passed an ordinance to restrict police unions from including impunity measures in collective bargaining agreements. It is now incumbent upon Illinois and other states to enact corresponding legislation to remove impediments to officer accountability and systemic regulation of police departments.
Join WCRJ as we call on Illinois lawmakers to outlaw unjust police accountability shields by passing HB 5830 in the fall veto session.
For more information about HB 5830, please contact us directly.
This election cycle, our economic future is on the Illinois ballot. Voters have the opportunity to advance equity and opportunity in our communities by voting YES on the Fair Tax amendment.
With just two weeks remaining before election day, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) and the Center for Racial and Gender Equity (CRGE) are ramping up our voter mobilization efforts to ensure that community members voice their demands for economic justice and racial equity by voting YES on the Fair Tax amendment.
Why fight for a Fair Tax?
For generations, racially discriminatory economic policies have undermined opportunity for Black households across Illinois. And the state’s current tax system only serves to further exacerbate inequality in our communities.
Illinois’ wealthiest residents pay the exact same income tax rate as the state’s middle and lower wage earners. When millionaires and billionaires don’t contribute their fair share, working families shoulder the burden, and essential public services go underfunded.
Under the Fair Tax system, the 97% of us with an annual income below $250,000 would get a tax cut, and the 3% of Illinoisans making more than that would start paying their fair share. Increased revenue would fund quality schools, affordable childcare, access to higher education, and public health.
How are CRGE and WCRJ supporting the fight?
WCRJ polling shows that Black voters overwhelmingly support the amendment - of the over 650 voters we surveyed, more than 79% said they were in favor of a graduated income tax structure for the state. This election cycle WCRJ and CRGE will reach hundreds of thousands of local voters through canvassing, phone calls, texts, and digital ads to ensure that Illinois’ powerful Black electorate plays a decisive role in the outcome of the Fair Tax ballot initiative.
What can I do to help?
You can help power this fight by doing three things:
Share our video about the Fair Tax amendment with everyone you know
Vote early - and make sure you know how to complete the Fair Tax ballot proposition section
Make a donation to support our Get Out the Vote work in the coming weeks
We are in the home stretch of the fight to bring equity to Illinois’ tax structure - and now we need you to help carry this victory across the finish line.