Clean Water Jobs for All Legislation Lays Groundwork for Thousands of New Jobs
SPRINGFIELD, IL — Today, the Illinois State House of Representatives voted to approve Clean Water Jobs for All legislation (SB 2146/HB 3349), which creates the Clean Water Workforce Pipeline Program. The program provides training and resources for careers in water infrastructure and empowers Illinois communities to install and upgrade vital water infrastructure, create good-paying jobs and improve public health.
State Sen. Ram Villivalam and State Rep. Justin Slaughter are chief sponsors of the bill in their respective chambers. The bill sponsors were joined by environmental groups, labor unions and several legislative co-sponsors from around the state in support of the bill.
Sen. Ram Villivalam, sponsor of SB 2146, said, “This Clean Water Jobs for All legislation positions the state to empower communities in my district and across Illinois to create much-needed jobs and water infrastructure. The next step rests in the capital budget negotiations currently underway, and I’m fighting for adequate funding for water infrastructure and these workforce programs in those discussions.”
Illinois’ water infrastructure is in dire shape–receiving a C- grade for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2018.
“Today’s vote is a great victory and means that we’re another step closer to connecting folks in our communities with meaningful training for the quality jobs they need to get ahead, said Rep. Justin Slaughter, House sponsor. “To create these good jobs, we need to make big investments in our water infrastructure in the capital budget, which is a win for everyone.”
Illinois Environmental Council Executive Director Jen Walling said, “The program outlined in Water Jobs for All is modeled on the successful job training and creation measures in the Future Energy Jobs Act, which has made Illinois a national leader in clean energy job training programs and diverse workforce development goals. It’s great to see the general assembly take this opportunity to build on that leadership.”
“It is very encouraging to see the General Assembly taking advantage of this opportunity to create thousands of good-paying jobs while also upgrading our water infrastructure throughout the state,” said Lynn Karner, executive director of the Illinois Pipe Trades Association.
“Well trained, well paid workers are an asset to all Illinoisans,” said Sean Stott of LIUNA’s Midwest Region. “Everyone benefits when Illinois workers are able to earn a good living and provide for their families by building our state’s infrastructure and, therefore, Illinois’ economy.”
Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, said, “Everyone should have access to clean water, and quality economic opportunities. For every $1 billion invested in clean water infrastructure, approximately 11,200 jobs are created, and this program will help those most impacted by poor water quality get the skills they need to access those jobs.”
“This bill aims to prioritize investment where it’s needed most: providing equitable training and employment opportunities in the communities that have been most impacted by infrastructure degradation and left out of workforce development,” said Pastor Scott Onque of Faith in Place Action Fund.
Organizations supporting the bills include: the Illinois Environmental Council, the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, Faith in Place Action Fund, Laborers’ International Union of North America-Midwest Region, Illinois Pipe Trades Association, International Union Of Operating Engineers Local 150 and the Chicago Laborers District Council LMCC.