CHICAGO— The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL), along with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Quad Cities Interfaith, hosted a Workers’ Rights and Construction Opportunity Summit to help create awareness about workplace safety, highlight new job opportunities for unemployed or underemployed residents and to increase overall diversity in the Quad City workforce. Nearly 150 workers, local leaders, building trades and union members, and more than two-dozen faith-based organizations attended the summit held on Sat., Feb 22 at the Second Baptist Church in Rock Island.
“For many people in Illinois, relief is spelled J-O-B,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “Putting people to work has always been one of my top priorities, and programs like this one help people from diverse backgrounds find and keep good-paying jobs.”
The Quad Cities, Moline and Rock Island area have recently received public works funding through the state and Gov. Quinn for several new projects in the region. Such public works funding will help to create new job opportunities in the Rock Island area within Capital Development Board (CDB) and IDOT projects including: the new Illinois-Iowa bridge project, upgraded rail, a new facility at Western Illinois University, the Moline river front and a loan for the construction of the new MATCON facility in East Moline.
Speakers at the summit discussed how the combination of the newly funded IDOT/Black Hawk College pre-apprentice and training program, and the union apprenticeship and training programs in the Quad Cities, will increase employment opportunities and diversity in the local workforce and provide a clear path to a career in the construction trades. Additionally, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and Central Management Services (CMS) were on hand to provide information on additional state and private occupations.
“After the success of our first worker summit in 2013, we are delighted to continue working with communities, government and labor representatives to help Illinois workers learn about their rights to a safe and healthy workplace, fair wages and about various employment opportunities,” said IDOL Director Joseph Costigan. “We thank all the participating union apprentice groups, state agencies and faith-based organizations and for helping to strengthen the state’s workforce.”
Government officials who attended the event included Rep. Patrick Verschoore (D-IL 72nd Dist.), Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley and a representative from U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos’ (D-17th Dist.) office. Other participants included the host: Quad Cities InterFaith (which comprises 24 church, community and faith-based groups in the Quad City area); Tri Cities Trades & Labor Council members Exec. Dir. Rory Washburn, Pres. Tom McCune, IBEW Scott Verschoore, Laborers Union Ron Litherland, Sean Stott and their respective apprenticeship programs; Midwest Laborers; the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Black Hawk College pre-apprentice and training program.
This event is part of series of summits to help reduce unemployment and to increase worker safety. The first summit held in Springfield in 2013 was attended by 230 unemployed and underemployed individuals.