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Illinois Department of Labor, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Partner on Labor Rights Outreach Initiative

Press Release - Tuesday, February 20, 2024

CHICAGO - The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) are partnering on an education and outreach program to raise awareness of workplace protections that apply to all workers in Illinois, with a particular focus on labor exploitation and child labor.

The program is designed to educate migrants who have recently arrived in Illinois of their rights under State labor laws. The effort comes in part in response to national reporting of instances of migrant children working and being injured in hazardous facilities, including warehouses and food processing plants.

"Protecting the most vulnerable workers - particularly children - is a responsibility we at the Illinois Department of Labor take seriously," said IDOL Director Jane Flanagan. "In addition to enforcing the laws under our jurisdiction, we want to ensure workers are aware of their rights in the workplace and can recognize dangerous or illegal working conditions. Through initiatives such as this, the Department can collaborate with community partners to reach workers who may be at risk for exploitation."

ICIRR and other community partners are conducting educational workshops with new arrivals from the Southern border about child labor and worker protection laws utilizing informational materials about Illinois labor laws provided by IDOL. The materials are available in both English and Spanish to ensure accessibility.

"Whether related to immigration, employment, or any other issue, knowing your rights is essential," said Breandan Magee, senior director of programs at ICIRR. "People come to Illinois from all over the world seeking safety and opportunity. Partnerships such as this one will ensure that the most directly impacted Illinoisans, including immigrant workers and children, know their rights in accordance with the law and are treated with the dignity and respect that everyone deserves."

Through partnerships with Chicago Workers Collaborative and Illinois Venezuelan Alliance, this effort will reach 1,000 individuals through workshops at community-based organizations and new arrivals shelters. The partner organizations will also distribute posters, flyers, and cards with information on child labor law to community members beyond the workshops.

"It's not only the responsibility of the parents to educate their kids about their rights, but it's up to all of us to know child labor rights and to be a part of protecting our children," said Flor Diaz, Child Labor Presenter for the Chicago Workers Collaborative.

To date, more than a dozen workshops have been held with over 350 attendees.

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