A Teamster-led effort in Illinois to secure wage protections and paid leave for public and private sector school bus drivers and other school workers impacted by the coronavirus became law this week.
With Gov. JB Pritzker signing HB 1167, all eligible hourly school employees and contractors will receive their regular pay if public schools are forced to shut down or go to virtual learning for any reason, including COVID-related closures. Additionally, the bill provides paid administrative leave to vaccinated employees if they or their children come down with the coronavirus and provides retroactive paid leave for COVID-19 related absences during the 2021 school year.
Teamsters Joint Council 25 played a key role in getting the legislation enacted.
“On behalf of the 100,000 members we represent throughout the State of Illinois, including more than 6,000 school bus drivers, I want to thank the governor and Illinois lawmakers,” said Joint Council 25 President Terrence J. Hancock. “They strengthened our education system in Illinois by investing in the people that make it work. Ensuring those who teach, transport and take care of our children at school are respected and valued provides a better learning environment for our students, and at the end of the day, that is what it is all about.”
As part of the legislation that went into effect immediately, school staff and contracted workers in all 800-plus public school districts in Illinois will be reimbursed for their full wages for COVID-related absences from 2021 on if they:
- Are fully vaccinated or have received the required doses to become fully vaccinated within five weeks of the effective date of the law.
- Are required, or have a child who is required, to be excluded from school because of a positive COVID-19 test result or close contact with a person who had a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Have been required by the school or school district policy to be excluded from school district property due to COVID-19 symptoms.
Protections ensuring that workers are paid during any school closures or student e-learning will remain in place throughout and beyond the pandemic.