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Labor secretary visits UIC

Announces fair-wage campaign

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U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis  at UIC
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis speaks in Student Center East: “It’s so appropriate that we are gathered here today. This is such a remarkably diverse campus,” she said.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

With the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum standing symbolically behind her, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis launched a campaign Thursday to empower low-wage and vulnerable workers.

Solis and members of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced the “We Can Help” public awareness campaign to reinforce the right of all workers to fair wages.

The standing-room-only crowd of workers, community activists and politicians in Student Center East included U.S. Reps. Danny Davis, Bobby Rush and Jan Schakowsky.

“There are many employees who play by the rules, but there are also many who don’t,” Solis said. “I have a message for those employers who break our labor laws and prey on vulnerable workers: it ends today.

“And to every working man and woman in America who has been taken advantage of but has been too afraid to come forward, please know this: we are on your side and we can help.”

The labor department has boosted its enforcement — adding 250 employees to help investigate claims of unfair wages. Through partnerships with community groups and public service announcements, the campaign is targeting workers in construction, janitorial work, hotel-motel services, food services, home health care and other vulnerable work forces, Solis said.

She encouraged all workers, regardless of their immigration status, to contact the labor department’s free and confidential hotline at 1-866-487-9243 with claims of wage violations.

“Together, we can meet the needs of America’s workers and their families, all while building a more prosperous and equitable nation,” she said.

Solis announced the campaign at the site of Chicago’s Hull-House, a settlement founded in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. UIC’s Jane Addams Hull-House Museum celebrates the settlement’s history of offering social and education opportunities for a diverse, working-class community.

“Hull-House was a center for community building and social empowerment,” Solis said. 

Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares, who introduced Solis, said UIC is committed to educating its students and the community in a way that reflects the values of Jane Addams and the Hull-House settlement.      

“UIC has always viewed the presence of Hull-House on our campus as a privilege and a responsibility,” she said. “The Jane Addams College of Social Work has a deep commitment to social justice, racial justice and economic justice.”

Solis also noted UIC’s commitment to diversity.

“It’s so appropriate that we are gathered here today,” she said during her speech.

“This is such a remarkably diverse campus — look around. Wow. I feel right at home.”


Below: Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares welcomes U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to Student Center East Thursday. Solis chose UIC for the launch of a campaign to empower low-wage and vulnerable workers because of its association with Hull-House Museum.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares welcomes U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

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