Temp Workers Score Another Victory in Illinois!

Buoyed by the momentum of their New Jersey colleagues’ successful passage of a Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights, workers in Illinois are now celebrating their own victory: passage of the Temp Worker Fairness and Safety Act (TWFSA).

“It feels great to be a part of Temp Worker Justice and to successfully fight for equal pay for temp workers! We will finally get the fair pay we deserve. It was an honor to work for this victory and to push to pass the bill in Springfield this year,” said Darius Childs, former staffing agency worker and a member of Temp Worker Justice who lives in Dolton, Illinois.

We will finally get the fair pay we deserve. It was an honor to work for this victory…

The TWFSA updates and improves on the state’s Day and Temporary Labor Services Act in several key respects:

  • Equal Pay for Equal Work: Temp workers assigned to a host employer for more than 90 calendar days will be paid the same as direct-hire employees performing the same or substantially similar work. This key piece of the TWFSA will reduce the economic incentive to rely on “permatemps,” and provide a meaningful wage boost to Illinois temp workers who currently earn on average $4 per hour less than their directly employed peers.
  • Right to Freely Refuse Strikebreaking Assignments: Temp agencies are now required to provide temp workers with notice—in a language that the worker understands—and an opportunity to refuse assignment to a worksite where there is a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute. Temp agencies must inform workers that the right to refuse will not affect their ability to receive another assignment. This provision will enable temp workers to support collective action by other workers without retaliation, should they choose.
  • Improved Training and Workplace Safety Provisions: Temp agencies and host employers must stick to new health and safety requirements. For example, host employers must:
    • Document and inform temp agencies of job hazards;
    • Provide specifically tailored hazard training and worksite specific training; and
    • Allow temp agencies to visit and confirm host employer health and safety practices and trainings.

Temp agencies must:

  • Inquire about hazards and health and safety practices at each host employer;
  • Remove temp workers subject to hazards that the agency is aware of and that the host employer has failed to correct;
  • Provide safety trainings in a temp worker’s preferred language; and
  • Provide a hot line number for workers to report concerns.
  • Increased fees and violation fines: These increases will enable additional funding for enforcement. Maximum penalties are generally three times higher than they were in the Day and Temporary Labor Services Act, and the Illinois Department of Labor is empowered to increase fees charged for required registration.
  • Expanded Enforcement: The new law will enable worker centers and unions to enforce each of the law’s provisions, including the expanded health and safety protections. This powerful provision will enable more robust enforcement to complement the work of state agencies and will better incentivize compliance.

“The wins in New Jersey and Illinois provide models for regulating the temporary staffing agency industry and addressing the exploitative ‘permatemping’ that has locked workers into lower wages and poor working conditions. We, at Temp Worker Justice, believe that the political environment is ripe to pass laws like this around the country. Workers are mobilizing to demand baseline protections and a path to direct-hire employment, which we know increases wages and labor standards,” said Roberto Clack, executive director of Temp Worker Justice.

“The passage of this bill would not have been possible without the leadership of sponsors Representative Edgar Gonzalez (IL-23) and Senator Robert Peters (IL-13) as well as the many advocacy organizations, labor organizations, and workers who stood with us to win these critical improvements,” said Jose Frausto, Executive Director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative. 

Like the New Jersey victory, the TWFSA reflects key worker priorities and contains several provisions for transforming low-wage, precarious jobs into good jobs. These two laws can serve as models for temp worker organizing in other states and localities, and eventually, on the national level.

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