For immediate release
August 30, 2010
Chicago-based TransUnion a key opponent to laws that would put people back to work
Chicago, IL – Today, Congressman Gutierrez (D-IL) hosted a congressional town hall meeting in Chicago with hundreds of people to demand an end to the use of credit checks in employment. The event launched a national legislative campaign to pass the Equal Employment for All Act—a federal law sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen (D- TN) and co-sponsored by Rep. Gutierrez that would ban employment credit checks and put Americans back to work.
At a time when Americans’ credit histories are being wrecked by job loss, foreclosures and medical debt, sixty percent of employers are using credit checks as a way to screen out job applicants. This places job seekers in a Catch-22: they can’t get a job because they can’t pay their bills but they can’t pay their bills because they don’t have a job. Employers also check the credit reports of current employees that apply for promotion.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has repeatedly expressed concern that credit checks in employment have a discriminatory impact on African Americans and Latinos, whose credit scores are five percent to thirty-five percent lower than those of whites.
Hundreds of people, including more than 150 members of UNITE HERE and leaders of various civil rights and consumer advocacy organizations, joined Rep. Gutierrez at the First United Methodist Church to hear testimony about the critical need for federal legislation to break the vicious cycle of credit checks and put our nation on the path to economic recovery.
Debra Banks, who has lost multiple jobs in the last few years due to her bad credit, traveled from Los Angeles to testify before the Congressman. "My credit report will tell you about my multiple trips to the hospital, but will it say anything about whether I’ll do a job well?" asks Ms. Banks.
The briefing comes just three weeks after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a state bill that prohibits the practice in the State of Illinois. Now a growing movement is underway to pass legislation on a national level that would do the same. The federal legislation is supported by a wide range of organizations such as UNITE HERE, NAACP, National Council of La Raza and NOW.
Chicago-based TransUnion, the world’s largest privately held credit reporting company, has led the opposition to legislation that would prohibit employment credit checks. With record-high unemployment rates, critics of credit checks contend that TransUnion and other companies that sell credit information to employers are obstacles to our nation’s economic recovery. TransUnion is run by Penny Pritzker, who currently serves as a member of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB).
"We need TransUnion to be a leader in removing credit checks that result in discrimination from the hiring process, so laid off Americans can get back to work," says Henry Tamarin, President of UNITE HERE Local 1.
UNITE HERE represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries.