villanueva 052320SPRINGFIELD – With essential workers facing more risks on the job, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) voted to pass a labor package that increases public employee benefits, protects retail workers and expands collective bargaining rights.

“Working people deserve dignity on the job,” Villanueva said. “Expanding paid disability leave, legal protections and the right to negotiate a fair wage will ensure that they have a safety net.”

Senate Bill 471 would expand paid disability leave for first responders by 60 days due to decreased access to rehabilitative services. The legislation would also elevate a charge of battery of a retail employee to aggravated battery if the incident took place during or up to six months after a declared public health emergency. Aggravated battery would also apply to incidents that occur while an employee is performing duties that include relaying directions for health and safety precautions.

“Retail employees are facing harassment and worse for enforcing face mask requirements,” Villanueva said. “We need to proactively expand legal protections to working people who put themselves at risk every day to provide essential services.”

In addition to those provisions, the legislation would also require existing racetracks with 10 or more employees to engage in collective bargaining if the track wishes to expand to include a casino. While the horse racing industry is excluded from federal collective bargaining laws, Illinois has extended similar protections to most businesses.

“As these facilities expand operations, they will also be expanding their workforce with janitorial, food service and other backstretch employees,” Villanueva said. “This measure will create a huge opportunity for those workers to improve their lives and receive the wages they deserve through the opportunity to collectively bargain.”

 Not all backstretch employees would be covered under this bill. Villanueva plans to introduce legislation to expand coverage during veto session.

Senate Bill 471 passed the Illinois Senate 47-3.