JCUA took on its first ever field campaign in 2019-2020 with the Fair Tax campaign, pushing for the state to implement a tax rate that varies on income. Illinois is one of a few states to have a flat income tax rather than tax brackets, which unfairly puts the tax burden on lower earners. The Fair Tax was a proposed amendment on the ballot in the 2020 elections.
When JCUA members voted overwhelmingly to take on the Fair Tax campaign, we knew it would be difficult. Organizers and members developed an ambitious field plan to reach voters through presentations, in-person canvassing, and digital engagement.
- We identified 4,700+ Fair Tax supporters across the state, smashing our initial goal of 2,800
- We collected 768 signatures on the JCUA virtual pledge card
- We organized 50 phone and text-banking sessions between April-October 2020
- We canvassed at 28 farmers’ markets in the city and northern suburbs
- We gave 22 presentations about Fair Tax at congregations and institutions
- We got out the vote with 15 phone-banking sessions and 48 canvassing shifts
- We engaged more than 130 JCUA members in the campaign
Even though the Fair Tax ultimately did not pass, with the vote coming in at 45% in favor and 55% against, we have much to be proud of. JCUA far surpassed our outreach goals and built up a community of leaders who will be a force in future campaigns for economic justice. We demonstrated that JCUA can take on an ambitious field campaign, and we developed organizing skills and tactics that will prepare us for the fights ahead. We reaffirmed our commitment to mobilize the Jewish community around initiatives that create a more just and equitable state for all people.
Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights
JCUA was part of the Illinois Domestic Workers Coalition to fight for the passage of HB 1288, also known as the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. First introduced in 2011, the coalition took on a five-year long fight to ensure that domestic workers had the same rights other workers were granted in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, domestic workers gained rights to: the state’s minimum wage, the right to one day of rest, and protection against discrimination and harassment. It established a floor of basic standards and protections for domestic workers like nannies, housecleaners, and home care workers while creating clear guidelines for employers.
We joined the fight in summer 2015, doing teach-ins, lobbying, and supporting the coalition in the fight. After the bill’s passage in late 2016, we assisted in employer education and implementation of workers’ rights, working to shift the culture around domestic workers.
Judaism has numerous texts dealing not only with the fair treatment of workers by their employers, but also workers’ rights to establish these guidelines for themselves. The classic code of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch, teaches that workers may establish rules and principles to govern their work and the employers must respect those guidelines. In addition to our texts, the Jewish community has a long-standing history working on labor issues and fighting for the fair, equal, and safe treatment of all workers. Through our work with the Illinois Domestic Workers Coalition, JCUA will have an opportunity to stand as allies with workers fighting for these basic rights for themselves