By Elisa Redish
I’m excited to work on the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights campaign through JCUA because I believe that all workers deserve dignity, including the right to decent wages and freedom from discrimination and harassment.
My interest in workers’ rights developed in the year I took off between college and law school, when I interned at a non-profit that defends low-income tenants in eviction proceedings. Over the course of the ten months of my internship, I saw a number of the same tenants whom the organization had defended successfully in eviction court come back a few months later for help with a new eviction. I realized that without stable and well-paid jobs at which they were treated well, these tenants would have no way to pay their rent each month while still paying for food, clothes, and transportation for their families. When I started at Berkeley Law in fall 2012, I immersed myself in the world of workers’ rights law and knew I had found my passion and the area in which I felt I could make the most impact.
As a union-side labor lawyer and as a volunteer at workers’ rights clinics while in law school, I have seen firsthand what a difference having legally enforceable rights makes for workers on an individual and group level. Workers not covered by basic workers’ rights laws essentially have no recourse when they are treated poorly by their employers. Moreover, because of the private nature of their workspace, domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, wage theft, and numerous other abuses.
For far too long, the laws in Illinois that grant workers legally enforceable rights and protections, such as the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the Illinois Human Rights Act, have excluded domestic workers. The Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights will correct this injustice.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work together with fellow JCUA members to act as allies to the IL Domestic Workers Coalition and ensure the Illinois legislature passes the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights this year. JCUA and its members have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of domestic workers in Illinois.