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Climate Union Jobs Act puts union labor to work building Illinois’ clean energy economy 

Frankfort — State Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Frankfort), chair of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee, today announced legislation that would put hundreds of thousands of union laborers to work building a 100 percent clean energy economy in Illinois. The newly filed Climate Union Jobs Act (CUJA), which was crafted in partnership with labor coalition Climate Jobs Illinois (CJI), would create and save an estimated 280,000 jobs and provide over $150 million annually in rate relief to low-income families. 

“We have outlined how Illinois can move forward with working people building our state’s clean energy future. We should turn this plan into action to solve some of our state’s biggest challenges today,” said State Sen. Hastings.

Joining State Sen. Hastings in sponsoring CUJA are State Sen. Sue Rezin, State Reps. Marcus Evans, Lawrence Walsh Jr., and Jay Hoffman. The measure broadly:

  • Offers an additional $31 million per year in low-income assistance by expanding the Energy Assistance Act;
  • Saves $67 million per year by doubling energy efficiency commitments for low-income households;
  • Saves $30 million per year in clean transportation assistance for low-income consumers; 
  • Saves $23.5 million per a year for small businesses, non-profit and non-residential customers; and
  • Expands eligibility for Percent of Income Payment Plan, limiting energy bills to no greater than a certain percentage of an individuals’ income.

“For decades, union men and women have built the infrastructure that powers Illinois’ future. We should put them to work again as the state sets out to build a clean energy economy. Passing this ambitious yet achievable legislation, we can lower unemployment, reduce emissions and close income inequality from Chicago to Cairo and Moline to Mahomet,” CJI Executive Director Joe Duffy said. “We look forward to working with Sen. Hastings, his colleagues in the General Assembly and other stakeholders during this session to enact legislation that will help build a cleaner, fairer state.”

Among the legislation’s many features, it would set robust union labor standards when Renewable Portfolio Standard, Carbon Mitigation and Solar for All credits are used. CUJA would require incorporating the: 

  • Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, requiring paying the going hourly rate for work of a similar character in a locality;
  • Project Labor Agreements, setting the terms and conditions of employment for all craft workers;
  • Stringent goals for apprenticeship programs;
  • Mandatory reports on workforce diversity; and
  • Labor neutrality agreements between an employer and an organizer where the employer agrees it won’t work for or against efforts to organize a union. 

In addition, the legislation would create a just transition for communities economically reliant on fossil fuel generation and establish equity requirements for clean energy jobs by: 

  • Requiring Coal Plant Retirement Advisory Committee to report on employee and community impacts;
  • Creating Empowerment Zones and tax incentives to spur investment in areas hit by plant closures; 
  • Creating a selection criteria so that new solar is distributed widely across the state prioritizing brownfield sites and disadvantaged communities;
  • Providing $50 million over 10 years for job skills and training programs to build an equitable and inclusive workforce of the future;
  • Investing $5 million into the Illinois Works program to support the recruitment of a diverse workforce into pre-apprenticeship training programs;
  • Requiring renewable energy developers to report on their workforce diversity and develop an action plan if they do not meet necessary metrics; and
  • Establishing a Displaced Energy Workers Bill of Rights that would provide:
    • Advance notice of power plant or coal mine closure,
    • Employment assistance and career services,
    • Full-tuition scholarship for Illinois institutions and trade schools,
    • Financial planning services, and
    • 24 months of insurance coverage that costs no more than the average monthly premium paid by the worker over the last 12 months and offers the same level of benefits.

By advocating for bold clean energy investments with comprehensive labor standards, including prevailing wage, apprenticeship requirements, labor peace agreements, project labor agreements and responsible bidder requirements, Climate Jobs Illinois—which is independent of energy developers and utilities—is working to ensure these jobs create more pathways to the middle class, especially for communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. 

Climate Jobs Illinois represents the hundreds of thousands of Illinois working men and women who are best suited to build Illinois’ new clean energy economy from the ground up. Executive Committee members of Climate Jobs Illinois are: Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers State Council, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, Laborers International Union of North America Great Lakes Region, Laborers International Union of North America Midwest Region, Service Employees International Union State Council and United Auto Workers Region 4.

Climate Jobs Illinois is a state affiliate of the Climate Jobs National Resource Center. CJI has partnered with The Project for Middle Class Renewal at UIUC, Illinois Economic Policy Institute and Cornell University Worker Institute.

Category: Press Releases


SPRINGFIELD – An expanded voting by mail program signed into law in May 2020 will be extended, further ensuring Illinoisans have access to the ballot box, State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) said.

“The vote is a cornerstone of our democracy upon which civil liberties rest,” Hastings said. “Looking around the country today, there are states actively trying to limit one’s ability to exercise one of the basic, inalienable rights bestowed upon us. Because of legislation like this, that will not happen in Illinois. I remain focused on expanding the accessibility and security of the vote in our state and am proud of this common-sense solution.”

As a result of House Bill 1871, three mail-in voting opportunities which were used during the 2020 General Election will be extended:

  • Allows election authorities to establish permanent ballot drop boxes and accept mail-in ballots from those drop boxes.
  • Establishes a permanent requirement of election authorities to accept mail-in ballots regardless of postage paid by the voter.
  • Allows election authorities to establish curbside voting for individuals to cast a ballot during early voting or on Election Day.

“As we enter the waning days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still those who do not feel comfortable in large crowds,” Hastings said. “Whether it is expanding access to drop boxes or curbside voting, or making sure ballots make it to the appropriate election authority, it is the right thing to do on behalf of all Illinois residents.”

This legislation is effective immediately upon receiving the governor’s signature.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – With clean energy discussions near the top of the agenda in Springfield this spring, State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) set the stage for a productive legislative session this morning with the year’s first public hearing.

“The COVID-19 pandemic gave my colleagues and me ample time to discuss and debate the path forward for improved clean energy policy in Illinois, but it’s time we furthered these discussions publicly,” Hastings said. “Seeking solutions to these incredibly complex issues is going to take time and effort on the part of all stakeholders, and I’m thankful for all those who take the time to provide thoughtful testimony as we work to improve energy efficiency across the state.”

The first piece of legislation heard in the committee this session was the Downstate Clean Energy Affordability Act, carried by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville). Under this legislation, Downstate would play a major role in accelerating the state’s progress toward 100% clean energy by 2050 by investing in local development and battery storage in the Ameren Illinois service area.

“The natural disaster in Texas last month was just the latest reminder that a diverse energy portfolio is key to any state’s success,” Hastings said. “This means additional investment in solar and wind energy and preparing our infrastructure for more electric vehicles. Climate change is a real threat, and we must do our part in Illinois to curb its effects.”

The Senate Energy and Public Utilities committee will continue to hold hearings over the next several months to chart the course for the future of clean energy in Illinois.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) passed legislation through the Senate Labor Committee Wednesday that would expand sick leave options for airline employees.

“In Illinois, we understand that it’s unacceptable to force dedicated, hardworking people into a choice between paying their bills and caring for a loved one. Family comes first, always,” Hastings said. “Through this legislation, we reaffirm our commitment to fighting for working families.”

Hastings was inspired to lead the measure by two constituents, both who are flight attendants for Southwest Airlines. Corliss King’s husband was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in 2017 and was hospitalized several times, receiving various surgeries that left him in need of care at home. Corliss was able to use her own accrued sick time to help care for her husband and children until 2017, when a law was passed that removed coverage for airline employees.

Susan Lyons has a similar story. When her brother, a single father, suffered a heart attack, was pronounced dead, and revived but in a stable coma, Susan was forced to take unpaid FMLA leave, rather than use any of the 300+ sick hours she had accrued on the job. She lost over a month of income during the time she was caring for her brother and his child.

Under Senate Bill 645, airline employees would be able to use earned sick time to care for sick family members.

“Airline workers in Illinois are often forced to choose between caring for a sick family member or earning their paycheck,” King said. “Even if a worker has sick days available for use for themselves, there is no requirement that companies allow these days to be used to care for other sick family members. We should not be forced to choose between our job and our loved ones, nor should we be subject to discipline simply because of a family emergency.”

This legislation now awaits consideration in the Senate.

Category: Press Releases

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Welcome to the official website of Senator Michael E. Hastings. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Hastings directly or you may call any of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

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