We can do more to help those who need reproductive health care

In Chicago, we can make a huge difference in providing access to critical reproductive health care. Although overturning Roe v. Wade makes us feel outraged and helpless, it is not productive.

All around us, in Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Indiana, the hopelessness is real. But not here. Illinois and Minnesota have expanded women’s access to full control over their own bodies.

Last week, three states – Idaho, Tennessee and Texas – allowed their trigger laws to make all abortions illegal. There are many things you can do to address the attacks on women and women’s health in response to the Dobbs decision and the triggering laws denying women control over their own bodies.

Chicago and Illinois are havens for women’s health care, but we can’t settle for that reality.

We can help direct support services for women already here and those coming to Illinois by connecting them to the many local resources and organizations they need to access care. Find them. Support them. If you want to know who these organizations are, contact me.

You can contribute to some of the most effective organizations providing women’s health and abortion services and help support women who need it most.

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There are many wonderful organizations that have been thoroughly vetted and classified as 501c3 nonprofits by the IRS, so support for them is tax deductible.

There are also wonderful national and local organizations committed to protecting and promoting voting rights and combating voter suppression, so we can reduce the damage done to our rights and our democracy.

Find them. Support them. Tune in!

Hedy Ratner, Center for Women’s Business Development

No shortcuts in construction

We live in a time when quick wins are valued over long-term progress. Instant gratification slows real progress. We buy products that are cheaper, to the detriment of the environment, human rights and in the long run, our pocketbook.

Prioritizing short-term savings over long-term benefits also occurs in the construction industry. With the unmatched level of education, focus on safety and access to training that electricians receive from the National Association of Electricians and Registered Apprenticeship programs, as well as continuing education for journeymen, choosing a union has real, proven value as an electrical contractor.

At Powering Chicago, a labor-management partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134 and the Electrical Contractors Association of Chicago and Cook County, we’re ready to lend our expertise.

As we approach one year since the passage of the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the distinction between union and non-union labor is becoming even clearer. With funding to build a nationwide network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, transportation improvements and more, it’s critical to spend taxpayer dollars with a focus on high-quality work through highly skilled workers.

One way the local unionized electrical industry is demonstrating its commitment and long-term value is by investing in the IBEW-NECA Technical Institute in Alsip. While non-union training programs vary, I have never heard of one that is as innovative, thorough and safety-focused as ours.

Not everyone has the desire or means to pursue higher education. Careers in the trades can provide affordable wages, excellent benefits and real opportunities. Each person who completes the apprenticeship program earns a journeyman wage that can be close to or nearly double the $55,260 expected annual salary of a recent college graduate during a 40-hour work week.

This Labor Day, let’s remember why construction is one field where we can’t afford to sacrifice knowledge and experience for short-term savings.

Elbert Walters III, Executive Director, Powering Chicago

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