Category: Featured

Out of the Shadows: Immigrant Workers Speak out Against Sexual Harassment

While celebrities, elected officials, and heads of corporations remain in the headlines, low-wage workers–especially women of color and immigrants--remain on the frontlines of sexual harassment and abuse at work. At the same time, low-wage working women are on the frontlines of organizing for change and fighting back against sexual harassment.

To bring to light the stories of women from across low-wage industries, Arise Chicago members created a video on their own experiences of sexual harassment. Arise members shared stories and advice in hopes of reaching other women–to help break societal stigma and fear, and to educate workers on what to do in cases of harassment on the job.

Arise is proud to support our members and all workers who speak out against and organize to end sexual harassment.

Arise Chicago, Workers, Alderman Launch Campaign for Local Labor Office

For immediate release: February 23, 2017

Workers, Alderman Announce Local Labor Office Campaign
Unite to implement Chicago worker protections, on wave of national momentum for local enforcement
Media contact:
Shelly Ruzicka
CHICAGO—Today workers’ rights organization, Arise Chicago, surrounded by aldermen and community allies announced a campaign to open a Chicago Office of Labor Standards to enforce the city’s employment laws—currently anti-wage theft, minimum wage, and paid sick days ordinances. Such an action would join Chicago to the national movement of passing worker protections, and moving to strong local enforcement to ensure those protections are implemented.
Janie Fine, PhD, the national leading expert on labor standards enforcement, of Rutgers University attended the event and emphasized the need for co-enforcement—for the city to partner with trusted groups like worker centers on the ground already in touch with low-wage workers.
 “We have a crisis of employment law enforcement in many of our cities.”
She signaled that local enforcement offices are part of a growing national trend, and that partnering with worker organizations has proven effective.
“Other cities have labor enforcement offices: Seattle, NYC, San Francisco, the state of California, and others. This is the new norm.”
“Workers and workers organizations know things government will never know. So enforcement requires worker participation”
Arise Chicago’s Executive Director highlighted the evidence of non-compliance with current laws across Chicago “A 2009 UIC study found that over $1million per day is stolen from low-wage workers in Cook County.”
“Imagine for a moment what it would be like if we never enforced our parking laws.
Drivers could ignore all ‘No parking’ signs and park wherever they like with no consequences. Our city would be thrown into chaos. That is what has happened to low-wage workers. Their lives have been thrown into chaos.”
Arise Chicago Worker Center member Maria Leon talked about such chaos in her life. 
“I worked as a server for over 5 years at two restaurants in Chicago, owned by the same employer. He paid us under the Chicago minimum wage, stole our credit card tips–only paying them when we asked repeatedly–and did not pay overtime. He thinks he can underpay his workers, because he knows people need the work. He tells workers, if they don’t like the pay, they can leave. But really, he should be held accountable, and pay his workers what they are owed.”
Ms. Leon stressed that enforcement is needed for all Chicago’s employment laws. “If there are employers like mine who did not pay the city minimum wage, there will be employers who do not implement paid sick days when they go into effect. We need an office dedicated to protecting workers’ rights and enforcing all of our city’s employment laws.”
Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35) shared how, after being approached by Arise Chicago, he supported a worker facing wage theft in his ward.
“I am happy to support workers in my ward. And I’ve done that with Arise Chicago members to recover wages. But we need stronger citywide enforcement, connected to community groups on the ground.”

He expressed hope for moving forward.
“Chicago won’t have the first Office of Labor Standards. But working with experts, groups on the ground, and workers, we can have the best Office of Labor Standards.”
Ald. George Cardnas (12) spoke of his own experience growing up in Little Village, the son of Mexican immigrants who experienced workplace problems.
“The Latino community is hard hit by wage theft. An Office of Labor Standards to enforce Chicago employment laws would improve our local community, and the city economy.”
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) echoed the need for policies to be effective.
“If we are going to pass policies that benefit workers, we also need to enforce them.”
“Enforcing our current local laws is about basic decency and human rights. Other cities have enforcement offices. It’s time for Chicago to catch up and open an Office of Labor Standards”
Ald. John Arena (45) spoke about the need for the city to be open for workers to feel safe reporting violations.
“When workers aren’t paid right or are denied legal benefits, they need a place to find support.”
“It’s important to empower workers to use the benefits they are entitled to, and that city council passed.”

Bob Reiter, Chicago Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer agreed.
“If employers steal workers wages, we need a way to get that money back”
“City council has passed some important employment laws. The next logical step is an Office of Labor Standards.”

Worker interviews available upon request in English and Spanish.
Video of the press conference available here

Illinois Domestic Workers Win!

Domestic Worker Victory!

Illinois Domestic Worker Victory!

Illinois Domestic Worker Victory!

Because of a 5-year campaign led by home cleaners, nannies, and home care workers, the governor signed the Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights into law! This historic victory means domestic workers will now be included in basic workplace protections including the minimum wage, one day of rest per week, and freedom from sexual harassment.

A special congratulations to Arise domestic worker leaders and Board members Isabel Escobar, Magdalena Zylinska, and Organizer Anna Jakubek, and all their sisters who organized for years to win this momentous victory!

Advocating for Domestic Worker B of R

Organizer, Anna Jakubek (center) in Springfield

“As a former domestic worker myself, this win is personally significant. I know the concrete benefit workers will feel as a result of our victory. This is the moment we’ve been working for!”  ~Anna Jakubek





Isabel in Washington DC after being recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change


“This is a great victory. Most importantly, now we can come out of the shadows, to end injustice and abuse. The struggle was long, but we won the most difficult part of the journey!” ~Isabel Escobar




Magdalena speaks at a press conference calling on the governor to sign the Bill of Rights

“After many trips to Springfield to advocate for the Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, I am so happy that now domestic workers have been recognized under the law!” ~Magdalena Zylinska

Make a donation to fund our members’ organizing efforts to make sure the new law is enforced!


Statement on Release of the Working Families Task Force Report

Arise Chicago’s Statement on Release of the Working Families Task Force Report

Abraham at EST presser 2015

Arise Chicago welcomes the release of the long-anticipated report by the City of Chicago’s Working Families Task Force report, and its recommendation for guaranteed paid sick day legislation for Chicago’s entire private sector workforce.


At Arise Chicago we hear daily from dozens of workers in some of the toughest, lowest-paying, and most precarious workplaces across the city. We hear workers express their workplace struggles and needs, as well as their desires; desires to lift up their families. Too often, private workplace policies suppress workers’ opportunities to lift themselves and loved ones out of poverty and to advance in their work life.

There are common-sense solutions within reach. Permitting workers to attend to physical and mental health needs without sacrificing pay or their very job is one such solution. When employers, left to their own discretion, fail to provide the most basic of standards, workers must advocate for policies in the public realm.  

That is why three years ago, Arise Chicago joined forces with other workers’ groups and advocacy organizations to form the Chicago Earned Sick Time Coalition. Together, we introduced a paid sick days ordinance and kicked off a city-wide conversation. In the city’s 2015 election, 82% of Chicagoans supported the idea of mandatory paid sick days.  Arise Chicago’s Executive Director, Rev. C.J. Hawking, was selected to serve on the City’s Working Families Task Force, where she advocated for paid sick days as a righteous cause, an economic necessity, and a sensible policy. Arise Chicago mobilized its worker members to participate in 5 of the 6 neighborhood focus groups on the topic and to share stories with the media about their struggle without paid sick days. And Arise Chicago collected signed support from from prominent faith leaders across a dozen religious traditions.     

Arise Chicago is pleased that the mayor engaged and listened to the working people of Chicago, including Arise Chicago’s own worker members, who are in need of immediate relief. The report represents recommendations, including a framework for paid sick days, based on the different voices represented on the task force.

We are saddened by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s public opposition to the recommendation. We find it dismaying how out of touch these two interest groups are from the overwhelming majority of Chicagoans.

A paid sick days ordinance would affect almost half of all private sector workers in Chicago. Such an ordinance would mean that workers would no longer need to literally choose between their health and their job. A paid sick days ordinance would also mean that, in many workplaces, such as any related to food production or service, the public’s health would be protected. Such an ordinance would provide a measure of stability and peace of mind from the uncertainty and anxiety currently experienced by Chicagoans from truckers to domestic workers, bus boys to car wash workers. A paid sick days ordinance would allow Chicago to catch up with the 5 states and 22 cities with such a policy, including New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh.

Arise Chicago urges the Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council to swiftly pass an ordinance based on the Report’s recommendations.

Below is an excerpt from the Working Families Task Force Report’s Executive Summary

Paid Sick Leave

The Task Force recommended a framework that would provide workers with paid sick leave while having a nominal impact on employer costs. This proposal would:

  • Allow workers to accrue and use up to 5 earned sick days over the course of 1 year.
  • Workers would earn sick time at a rate of 1 hour earned for every 40 hours worked. This approach ensures that employees earn and accrue sick time at a proportional rate based on hours worked.
  • Accrued sick leave could be used by new employees after an initial 6-month probationary period.
  • Allow employees to roll over up to 2.5 unused sick days to the following year.
  • Exempt employers that offer combined leave benefits such as Paid Time Off (PTO) from these requirements as long as employees could accrue and use up to 5 days of PTO within a calendar year.
  • This framework would not require the pay out of unused sick days by the employer and it would also exempt sick leave benefits that are negotiated as part of a collective bargaining agreement.


Please direct questions about the report, and requests for interviews about a paid sick days ordinance with Arise Chicago, low-wage workers, or religious leaders to Shelly Ruzicka


Joint Statement by Wheaton College and Dr. Larycia Hawkins Announcing a Resolution

Joint Statement by Wheaton College and

Dr. Larycia Hawkins Announcing a Resolution

Wheaton College and Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins announce they have come together and found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation. The College and Dr. Hawkins have reached a confidential agreement under which they will part ways.

“Wheaton College sincerely appreciates Dr. Hawkins’ contributions to this institution over the last nine years,” says Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Graham Ryken. “We are grateful for her passionate teaching, scholarship, community service and mentorship of our students.”

In reflecting on her years at Wheaton, Dr. Hawkins says, “I appreciate and have great respect for the Christian liberal arts and the ways that Wheaton College exudes that in its mission, programs, and in the caliber of its employees and students.”

Both parties share a commitment to care for the oppressed and the marginalized, including those who are marginalized because of their religious beliefs, and to respectful dialogue with people of other faiths or no faith. While parting ways, both Wheaton College and Dr. Hawkins wish the best for each other in their ongoing work.

In pursuit of further public reconciliation, a joint press conference will be held at the Chicago Temple First United Methodist Church, 77 W. Washington St., in Chicago, on Wednesday, February 10, at 10:00 a.m.


Neither Wheaton College nor Dr. Hawkins will speak to the press about their relationship or their reconciliation before the scheduled press conference, and there will be no questions taken by the parties at or after the press conference.

Support Workers' Rights

donate now

Keep In Touch!

email signup

Get Involved!

contact us


Join Our Online Community facebooktwitteryoutubeblog



Free Manual

Workers Rights Manual download (2016 Edition)

Manual de Derechos de Trabajadores descargar (Edición Actualizada Próximamente)

 Praw pracowników obstugi ściagać (Aktualizacja Wydanie Wkrótce)