pexels field engineer 442151CHICAGO – Following another joint Senate hearing on diversity in procurement, Business Enterprise Program, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise policies and labor unions, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) continues to advocate for equity, capacity building, and economic access for minority workers.

“It’s imperative that our workforces reflect the communities they serve,” Hunter said. “Coincidentally, we are discussing diversity and procurement during National Apprenticeship week, which only serves as a reminder that apprenticeships can be a major catalyst in advancing the careers of those who might not otherwise be exposed to the same kinds of opportunity.”

Several labor executives spoke before the committee, including Chynna Hampton, director of workforce development for HIRE 360 Chicago. Hampton said that one way to promote equity in the labor force is through partnership with unions. HIRE 360 connects people in underserved communities with access to apprenticeships.

Tremain Leggans, an apprentice carpenter at Carpenters Local #10, attested to how an apprenticeship program altered his life. Leggans served 22 years in prison, and used that time to better himself, getting an associate’s degree in science, and received several other certifications. After being released from prison, he struggled to find employment.

After three months with no luck, he sent a letter asking to be reinstated to his previous training facility. When asked why he wanted to get back in the union, he said, “I love construction. I love what I did. I just made a bad choice in life.”

Celebrating his fourth year back on the job this past September, he is on his way to be a journeyman carpenter next year.

“It’s unbelievable because where I come from, my life experience, in spite of the choices that I made in life, the carpenters allowed me to come back into the union,” Leggans said. “Had it not been for them, I wouldn’t have health benefits that I often use, I wouldn’t be able to advance, earn the money that I’m earning. I wouldn’t be able to be a productive citizen in society and contribute back to the communities that I live in.”

The next hearing will take place on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. covering age equity, workers’ rights, and consumer protection.

To view virtual committee proceedings, visit https://ilga.gov/senateaudvid.asp and click "Watch Live Virtual Committee Video." The link will become available when proceedings begin.

 

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