2010s

In just the last few years, WE have won No Salary History and pregnancy fairness laws in Illinois, paid sick time for half a million Chicagoland workers, and a Student Loan Bill of Rights in Illinois. And WE are not slowing down. WE are doubling down.

WE won’t stop advocating for change until every woman—from those who make the tips to those who make the laws—is given her due. Together with you, WE pursue equity for all.

After years of determined advocacy, in 2019 we won a No Salary History bill in Illinois, which amends the Illinois Equal Pay Act to prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their salary history.  This common practice contributes to gender and racial wage gaps.

In 2019, WE won a law that will gradually increase Illinois’ minimum wage from $8.25/hour to $15.00/hour by 2025, which will give approximately 1.4 million working people in Illinois a raise.

In 2019, Women Employed led the charge to secure $50 million dollars in increased funding for need-based financial aid through the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP). This much-needed funding will provide 130,000 students with larger grants and will allow almost 7,000 additional students to go to college this year alone.

In 2019, WE worked with advocates, council members, the mayor, and the business  community to uplift the voices of working people and we won the Chicago Fair  Workweek Ordinance. The ordinance, which goes into effect on July 1, 2020, will require employers to provide two weeks advance notice of schedules,
ten hours of rest between shifts, compensation for last-minute schedule
changes, and an offer of extra hours to part-time employees before hiring additional help.

In 2018, on the one-year anniversary of #MeToo going viral, WE and a handful of national partners led a coalition of nearly 300 organizations nationwide to mobilize for strengthened protections against sexual harassment and violence. We co-wrote an open letter published in the New York Times demanding concrete advances in “20 states by 2020.” In Illinois, we made history in 2019 by winning one of the most sweeping employment-related civil rights reforms the state has seen in years—an Anti-Workplace Harassment Bill that will protect workers against all forms of harassment.

Working with our partners, WE helped establish the Illinois Council on Women and Girls in 2018 to advise legislators on the creation of laws that will impact the women and girls of the state.

WE mobilized supporters and worked with other advocates to secure ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in Illinois in 2018. The proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution would guarantee equal rights under the law for the sexes. Illinois’ passage brings it one state away from becoming a reality.

In 2018, Illinois state agencies and education policymakers gave the green light to a single definition of career pathways developed by Women Employed, the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition, and the Chicago Jobs Council. 

Working with our partner organizations and the Illinois Attorney General’s office, WE advocated for legislation to protect student borrowers in Illinois. The Student Loan Bill of Rights passed in 2017, requiring Illinois loan servicers to be more transparent about repayment options.

WE led the fight to win paid sick time for half a million workers in Chicago and Cook County. WE co-chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Working Families, which created earned sick time recommendations for Chicago. WE then led the Sick Time Chicago Coalition, which fought for and won sick time ordinances patterned after those recommendations in both Chicago and Cook County. When the laws went into effect in 2017, WE launched a public education campaign to inform Chicagoland workers about their right, reaching more than 1 million people.

Along with our coalition partners, WE drafted a pregnancy fairness bill for Illinois, lobbied state leaders, mobilized activists, and won a major victory against workplace discrimination when the law passed. The Illinois Pregnancy Accommodation law went into effect in 2015.

As the leading advocate for state-funded tuition assistance in Illinois, WE prevented deep cuts to those investments in the face of the state’s fiscal crisis.

WE won commitments from state leaders to implement “bridge programs” that help low-skilled adults advance to college-level courses in their chosen career fields.

WE worked with community colleges across Illinois to improve support services that help students stay in school and graduate.