In the 7th month of living with COVID-19, many working and oppressed people now work and study from home and, as a result, need electricity, gas and water in their homes more than ever. Teachers in Central Illinois have told Liberation News that their jobs may not pay them enough to pay their electricity bills, and without electricity they cannot teach; in short they feel they are are being punished for doing their jobs.
At the start of the pandemic in March, Governor Pritzker of Illinois announced a utility shutoff moratorium until May 1. Since then, the Illinois Attorney General has announced that the moratorium would extend until Aug. 1. Utility companies like Ameren Illinois want to resume shutting off utilities for those who have had trouble paying their bills.
In this environment, a grassroots group of organizers and community members has come together to fight for pushing back the end of the Illinois utility shutoff moratorium. More than 20 groups in Central and Southern Illinois, including the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Champaign-Urbana, have formed No Ameren Shutoff.
After weeks of organizing and fighting for justice, this coalition has succeeded in pushing back the end of the moratorium bit by bit from the original Aug. 1 date. Currently, Ameren will be able to resume shutoffs Sept. 11. Recognizing that this is a pressing issue that has a deadline of just a few days, organizers have been successfully attending, and will continue to attend, Illinois Commerce Commission meetings to raise awareness of the needs and demands of the people.
An organizer with No Ameren Shutoffs, Allan Axelrod, encourages Illinois residents that want to get involved to contact the Illinois Commerce Commission and to submit a complaint about utility shutoffs, or to tweet to @GovPritzker using #NoAmerenShutoffs.