Ford Motors employees testify about the sexual abuse and assault they experienced at workCHICAGO – Lawmakers on Monday threatened to drag in Ford Motors supervisors and management and demanded Gov. Bruce Rauner not purchase Ford vehicles for the state after hearing testimony from workers who suffered sexual harassment at local plants.

“The fact that assault, abuse, discrimination and retaliation are just part of the job for women at Chicago’s two Ford plants is astounding,” said Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake). “No one should ever have to experience the things these women did, let alone at work. Ford management and United Automobile Workers representatives have not only failed to protect these women and ensure they have a safe work environment, they have in many cases been the perpetrators of abuse and harassment.”

Over the past several decades, female employees at Ford Motors’ two Chicago plants have reported incidences of sexual harassment, assault, discrimination and retaliation, resulting in a string of lawsuits and an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and commitments from Ford to crack down on the problem. Despite all of this, female employees are still experiencing harassment and discrimination at Ford, they told lawmakers.

“I intend to do everything in my power to hold Ford management and UAW representatives accountable,” Bush said. “I hope that the governor puts a halt on state purchasing of Ford vehicles until Ford takes real action and the victims receive justice.”

Members of the Senate Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by Sen. Bush, heard testimony during Monday’s hearing on labor issues and sexual harassment. The task force was created in response to the recent wave of harassment allegations in Illinois and throughout the country. The group is conducting a comprehensive review of the legal and social consequences of sexual harassment and discrimination, and will make recommendations on how to combat them in Illinois.

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Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – Staff members of elected officials are one step closer to being able to file sexual harassment claims thanks to a measure from Senator Melinda Bush that passed in the Senate with strong bipartisan support.

“The sexual harassment allegations that have come out in recent months made clear the need to re-examine our policies, work to change the culture in Springfield and do everything possible to make sure all victims are able to seek justice for sexual harassment,” said Bush (D-Grayslake). “The fact that staff of elected officials are not protected under the Human Rights Act is extremely problematic and needs to be changed.”

Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, “immediate personal staff” of elected officials are exempt from the definition of employee and are therefore unable to report human rights violations, including sexual harassment, to the Department of Human Rights. Senate Bill 576 would delete this exemption.

Bush, who chairs the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention, introduced the measure after hearing testimony from employees of the Illinois Department of Human Rights during a recent task force meeting. Representatives from the department testified that because of the lack of clarification as to who constitutes “immediate personal staff” of elected officials, the department does not know how to handle those claims.

“Legislative staffers should have never been excluded from the Human Rights Act in the first place,” Bush said. “This bill will give legislative staffers the same rights as all other employees in the state – the right to seek justice and report human rights violations and sexual harassment in the work place.”

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Category: Press Releases

Senator Melinda Bush speaks on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – Staff members of elected officials would be granted the right to file sexual harassment claims under a measure from Senator Melinda Bush that advanced out of the Senate Executive Committee today.

“The claims that have come out over the past several months have made it clear that we need to change the way we handle sexual harassment and make sure everyone knows where to go to seek justice,” Bush (D-Grayslake) said. “The fact that staff of elected officials aren’t considered employees and therefore aren’t protected under the Human Rights Act is egregious.”

Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, immediate personal staff of elected officials are exempt from the definition of employee and are therefore unable to report human rights violations, including sexual harassment, to the Department of Human Rights. Senate Bill 576 would delete this exemption.

“It’s clear that the system was set up to protect perpetrators and leave victims with nowhere to turn,” Bush said. “Legislative staffers should’ve never been excluded from the Human Rights Act. This measure will give them the same rights as every other employee in the state.”

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Category: Press Releases

Senator Melinda Bush responds to Governor Rauner's budget plan

SPRINGFIELD – Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) issued the following statement in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget address Wednesday:

“Today, the governor proposed a plan to cut retirement incomes, slash important human service programs and shift the state’s financial responsibilities to local governments. It’s a plan that would shift costs to those who can least afford it: property tax payers, seniors and low- and middle-income families.

“The governor touted an increase in funding for Illinois schools, an increase that is required by the school funding bill he vetoed, but he didn’t highlight how much property taxes would go up under his proposal to shift costs from the state to local school districts. Lake County has some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Under Rauner’s plan, Lake County residents would be forced to pay even higher property taxes to maintain school quality.”

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Category: Press Releases

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