Failure to abide by laws governing task force operations undermined important conversations about improving work for future generations of Illinois residents.
SPRINGFIELD – The business community recognizes that the workforce is its primary asset and taking care of workers in a new post-pandemic environment is a top priority. Talent attraction and retention are essential to success and competing in an ultra-competitive global economy, which is why business groups including the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association are disappointed by the outcome of the Future of Work Task Force Report following a deeply flawed process that undermined efforts to have important conversations about improving work for future generations of Illinois residents.
Established in 2021 to assess the current realities of the state’s economy and labor market amid the COVID-19 pandemic and to identify future trends and practices to address the challenges business and workers face, the Task Force has a legal responsibility to operate within specific statutory guidelines allowing for transparency and public participation. However, since the Task Force began meeting last fall there have been numerous statutory violations, which have been brought to the attention of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which was supposed to provide administrative support, as well as Task Force Co-Chairs and members. These violations are particularly troublesome as this report will be sent to the General Assembly with the intent that recommendations will be implemented through potential legislation.
Many of the violations stemmed from a failure to meet specific requirements set forth by the authorizing legislation, including:
- Failure to appoint all Task Force members until after the legal deadlines to do so.
- Several meetings were held before all the required Task Force members were appointed.
- The Task Force routinely failed to provide public notice of meetings by omitting meeting locations and times.
Additionally, the final report to be voted upon was provided to the full Task Force at 6:45 a.m. for a 9:00 a.m. vote on the very same day. While the vote only required a majority of the quorum present it should be pointed out that only 17 of the 35 stakeholders voted to approve the report. Further, while DCEO was required to provide administrative support to the Task Force under the statute, two of the Task Force managers charged with planning meetings, developing meeting subject matter, and deciding who could participate were contract lobbyists. This includes one lobbyist who was paid by the Economic Security Project, raising potential conflicts of interest if the group also provided recommendations for the report. DCEO did not respond to questions about these arrangements.
Most of the report’s recommendations were never discussed and none were approved by the entire committee prior to the compiling of the report itself. Disappointingly, many of the recommendations in the report would harm Illinois’ chances to win on the key future growth industries outlined in the state’s 5-year economic development plan. Despite best efforts for meaningful participation, the business community did not get an opportunity for a full and fair hearing of recommendations because of the process and the conflicts of interest of the task force managers. Because of this, the report is not a legitimate starting point to discuss future legislation.
The pandemic has led to fundamental shifts in business operations for many industries, new ways businesses interact with their customers and clients, and, most importantly, how businesses engage, operate, and build their workforces. While the outcome of this Task Force process was profoundly disappointing, the future of work is a critically important conversation that will continue long past the release of this report and the business community remains deeply committed to improving the future of work for generations of Illinois residents and to working with policymakers on these critical issues.
About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization that represents more than 1,000 member companies, which collectively employ 400,000 employees and generate $24 billion in revenue. The Chamber combines the power of membership with its legacy of leadership and business advocacy to drive a dynamic economy. To learn more, visit www.chicagolandchamber.org.
About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)
The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, visit https://ima-net.org/
About the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)
One of the largest state retail organizations in the United States, IRMA serves as the voice of retailing and the business community in state government. Founded in 1957, IRMA represents more than 23,000 stores of all sizes and merchandise lines. From the nation’s largest retailers to independent businesses in every corner of the state, merchants count on IRMA to fight for the best possible environment in which to do business in Illinois.