Use infrastructure money to get more women and people of color into the trades

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Of working women in the United States, nearly half are concentrated in low-wage jobs. Although they are more likely to have a four-year college degree than men, women overall earn only 84% of what men earn. The disparities are greater for women of color: Black and Latina women earning only 64% and 57% respectively.

Enter COVID-19. The past two years have widened gender inequalities in the labor force. Women face increased unemployment and growing domestic workloads.

The solutions to these systemic inequalities might be closer than you think. With $17 billion in federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Illinois has a unique chance to make this stimulus a powerful force for equity. As this federal funding reaches the water, transportation, and climate resilience industries, policymakers can increase access to in-demand careers that support community prosperity through climate stability. employment and financial growth.

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At the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, we clean up wastewater and manage stormwater in Cook County. Our daily work is possible thanks to infrastructure projects, such as TARP, flood control projects and our water reclamation plants. Agencies like ours have the power to advance policies and programs that expand access to engineering, innovation, entrepreneurship, and construction opportunities for women and communities of color.

Uniquely, the MWRD Board of Commissioners is one of the only legislative bodies in Illinois to have an elected majority of women of color. Our diverse leadership provides a unique perspective on how regional governments can integrate gender and racial equity into career paths and infrastructure projects. The investments we make are in the workforce of tomorrow.

Affirmative action objectives have contributed to increasing the diversity of the skilled workforce, thereby reducing pay gaps. Recently, Illinois began working to expand access to apprenticeships, a critical step in diversifying our infrastructure workforce. Only 0.6% of construction apprentices are reported to be black or Latina women. Governments must act quickly to give women and communities of color a chance to benefit from infrastructure funding.

We are at the crossroads. We cannot afford to be myopic. Now is the time to build a new economy by breaking glass ceilings for Illinois women, communities of color, and people who have historically been underrepresented in the trades. By being strategic, we can increase prosperity and provide life-changing opportunities.

To honor Women’s History Month is to address systemic disparities. Governments can generate equitable outcomes for generations to come.

Kim du Buclet and Eira Corral-Sepulveda, MWRD Board of Commissioners

Standard time is the way to go

The editorial on the US Senate’s recent passage of the bipartisan Sun Protection Act is spot on. Yes, stop changing clocks, but keep them on standard time. Mornings would be difficult during the winter months with daylight saving time.

John Petersen, Belmont Heights

Ideal summer time all year round

I was shocked to read the recent Sun-Times editorial against DST all year. It’s something I’ve been passionately working on for years. Why? Because our long, cold winters are hard enough without it getting dark by 4:30 p.m. Yes, it is a bit darker in the morning, but mornings are still dark in winter.

The extra daylight at the end of the day makes walking and driving safer, easier for shopping, and generally lifts your spirits. This is when more people are out.

My “circadian biology” works very well with daylight saving time.

Carol Kraines, Deerfield

Smollett betrayed real victims

If I ever hear or see another article about “Jessie” Smollett (I’m behind comedian Chris Rock, who said the “Empire” actor didn’t deserve the “u” in his name), it would be very well. His lies were a betrayal to me and all true victims of racist violence. Because of his actions, the alt-right uses him as a weapon to deny legitimate claims.

When a successful African American commits a crime motivated by greed or self-aggrandizement, I have no desire to mitigate their consequences. If they are stupid enough to believe they can get away with crimes their white peers commit with apparent impunity, fool them.

One thing every black man should know is that we can’t afford stupidity. My generation learned, “If you find a fool, bang his head.” (For the uninitiated, that means fools deserve whatever they get.) I don’t care if Smollett is serving time in prison, but he has to repay the city for the money he incurred because of his fraud.

Muriel Balla, Hyde Park

High Cannabis Taxes

Tom Schuba’s article “High$ and Low$” indicates that pot sales have fallen sharply and consumers are being pushed into the illicit market. That’s for one reason: the cost and high prices have nothing to do with the lack of supply and limited outlets, as stated by cannabis consultant Andy Seeger. The retail price before taxes is comparable to the illegal sale price of cannabis, until you add recreational cannabis state and local taxes. The higher the THC level, the higher the tax.

Theoretically, legalized cannabis should have ended the illicit market, but because of the overly greedy tax grab, it energized the illicit market.

George Recchia, Oak Park

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