BACP Awards Grant to Arise Chicago To Raise Awareness of Chicago's Labor Laws

September 2, 2021

$100,000 grant will help ensure that Chicago’s labor protections reach our most vulnerable workers, especially domestic workers

Elisa Sledzinska    312.744.1973

CHICAGO – Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), in partnership with the Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), announced that Arise Chicago has been awarded a grant from the BACP Office of Labor Standards (OLS) to conduct outreach and education on Chicago’s labor laws. By expanding outreach efforts in underserved communities, this $100,000 grant will increase access to the protections offered by the OLS and raise awareness about workers' rights. Arise Chicago will work in partnership with the City to create resources for vulnerable workers and the expectation is that workers will access rights guaranteed by Chicago’s landmark labor laws.


“Workers across Chicago, especially those most susceptible to labor violations, deserve to have educational resources easily accessible through trusted community partners,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “By working closely with our communities and organizations like Arise Chicago, we can reach vulnerable workers who need to be informed of their rights. We want both employers and workers to readily find information, resources and guidelines in their own language to create safe workplaces and we look forward to continuing to fight for our most vulnerable workers.”


The OLS is dedicated to promoting and enforcing Chicago’s labor laws, including Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave, Fair Workweek and the new Wage Theft Ordinance. Through its own outreach, OLS has hosted over 30 webinars with over 2,350 attendees since March 2020 and created informational materials in multiple languages, which can be found at  Building off of Mayor Lightfoot’s Your Home is Someone’s Workplace campaign to elevate the rights of domestic workers, this one-year, $100,000 grant funded by the City of Chicago in partnership with Chicago Foundation for Women, Arise Chicago will help the OLS expand its outreach efforts and reach more vulnerable workers.


“Chicago’s frontline workforce has overcome so much over the last year, and they deserve a dedicated community-based advocate,” said BACP Acting Commissioner Kenneth J. Meyer. “Chicago’s recovery begins with our workers, and in order for them to be fully protected they need support, education and access to OLS resources. This partnership will enhance OLS’s enforcement capabilities and build off Arise Chicago’s impressive community roots.”


Arise Chicago, founded in 1991, is dedicated to building partnerships between faith communities and workers to fight workplace injustice through education, organizing and advocating for public policy changes. Through this grant, Arise Chicago will develop worker materials and conduct extensive outreach and trainings on workers’ rights, with a focus on the role of enforcement through the OLS. Additionally, for domestic workers, Arise will provide tri-lingual trainings in contract development; offer template contracts in Spanish, Polish, and English, created with the Illinois Domestic Worker Coalition; and provide individual contract consultation. This information will be disseminated in culturally sensitive and trauma-informed ways to workers at the highest risk of exploitation with a focus on reaching the most vulnerable workers, especially domestic workers. In addition to providing information and education to workers, Arise Chicago will also screen for potential labor violations and assist workers in bringing complaints to the OLS, which will allow more workers to receive the protections granted by the Office.


“The Office of Labor Standards is thrilled to have Arise Chicago as a partner to build trust in communities and give workers a voice when their rights are violated,” said Andy Fox, BACP’s Director of Labor Standards. “This is an opportunity to further empower and educate Chicago’s workers about their rights and I am very excited to utilize their expertise and experience to support our most vulnerable workers.”


"Arise Chicago has a 30-year history of educating and organizing low-paid workers across language, neighborhood and industry," explained Rev. C.J. Hawking, Executive Director of Arise Chicago. "Domestic workers in Chicago have achieved the right to have a written workplace contract, a well-deserved and long-awaited acknowledgment of their status as professionals. Arise stands ready to ensure that all workers in Chicago are protected against unscrupulous employers."


The development and distribution of this grant was based on a recommendation from the Mayor’s Protecting Workers Working Group (PWWG). The PWWG brings agencies at all levels of government together with community-based organizations to advise the City on how to address industries, such as domestic work, that are ripe for exploitation and human trafficking. The PWWG is co-chaired by the Mayor’s Office and OLS and aligns with the Mayor’s anti-poverty agenda, which includes growing quality jobs, improving people’s income, building wealth and closing racial health disparities.


“Chicago Foundation for Women is proud to partner with the City of Chicago and Arise Chicago to ensure vulnerable workers, especially domestic workers, know and understand their rights and labor protections,” said Felicia Davis, Chicago Foundation for Women President and CEO. “It’s critical that domestic workers, mostly comprised of women, particularly Women of Color and immigrant women, who are at a higher risk of wage theft, abuse, and human trafficking, understand that there are supports and protections available and in place for them.”


In August 2020, Mayor Lightfoot launched the Your Home is Someone’s Workplace campaign to elevate care workers as working professionals deserving of better working conditions, dignity, and respect. The campaign continues to serve as a call to action to employers of care workers to commit to four actions: 1) pay a fair, living wage; 2) provide paid time off; 3) have written expectations that are clear and mutually agreed upon; and 4) maintain safe workplaces. 


Worker protections continue to be a priority of Mayor Lightfoot, including as a part of the Mayor’s recently passed Chi Biz Strong Initiative. As part of this initiative, Chicago recently enacted our first-ever Wage Theft Ordinance, raised the minimum wage for all domestic workers to $15 an hour and enhanced the Paid Sick Leave ordinance to allow greater flexibility for workers. This bold plan will put workers front and center of our City’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as we set the marketplace on a path towards a strong, rapid, equitable and long-lasting recovery.



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