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Governor Quinn Signs Law to Protect Migrant Laborers in Illinois

Press Release - Monday, August 25, 2014

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to protect migrant laborers in Illinois from unsafe working and living conditions in migrant labor camps. The new law will protect these workers and improve their quality of life. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to improve public safety and ensure all Illinois workers are treated fairly.

"Agriculture is a vital economic driver in Illinois, and migrant workers are an important part of that industry," Governor Quinn said. "The mobile nature of migrant workers, along with frequent language and citizenship barriers, make it difficult for workers to hold employers accountable and leaves them vulnerable to unfair and unsafe labor conditions. This law will help protect workers from dangerous workplace practices."

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) annually inspects all migrant labor camps for conditions that may threaten the health of workers. Senate Bill 3551, sponsored by State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and State Representative Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago), provides for reduced timeframes in which migrant labor camp operators may apply for a license and subsequent inspection in order to better accommodate fluctuating harvest seasons. The bill also allows IDPH to levy penalties, on a per day basis, to encourage immediate correction of violations and ensure that the health of Illinois' migrant workers is protected. The law is effective immediately.

"Migrant workers and the families who depend on them deserve safe living conditions and strong workplace protections," Senator Martinez said. "Today's action is a firm statement that Illinois will enforce its laws, safeguarding the wellbeing of this predominantly immigrant and Latino workforce that is so essential to our state's economic growth."

Governor Quinn is committed to ensuring all Illinois workers are treated fairly by pushing for a living wage and passing legislation guaranteeing a safe and healthy workplace.

Governor Quinn has advocated for an increase in the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 per hour and the inclusion of a referendum asking voters if they support a minimum wage increase on the November 4 General Election Ballot. The Governor has acted to protect workers' paychecks and ensure all Illinois workers are treated fairly and receive the compensation they deserve. He has signed legislation to prohibit unreasonable fees on payroll cards and to close loopholes that allow businesses to misclassify workers in order to avoid paying worker's compensation or overtime.

Under Governor Quinn's leadership the Illinois Department of Transportation has developed new safety measures to protect construction workers on Illinois' roads.

Governor Quinn is a strong supporter of legislation and programs to support the needs of Illinois' growing Latino population. Governor Quinn worked to enact the Illinois DREAM Act and make Illinois the first state to require bilingual education programs to be available for non-English speaking students beginning in pre-school. The Governor has advocated for national immigration reform and a fair, realistic pathway to citizenship.

The Governor has long been a strong advocate for immigrants' rights by working to ensure that everyone takes full advantage of health insurance, job training and foreclosure prevention programs by creating and pushing multilingual awareness campaigns so that no one misses out. He also expanded his Office of New Americans Welcoming Centers as immigrants settle in non-Chicago communities across Illinois.

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