Panel Calls For Reforms To 'Oppressive' Chicago Taxi Regulations

Chicago cab drivers largely feel "beaten down by the regulatory regime" they face, according to a panel of experts who are calling on the city to reform its rules and enforcement process governing the taxi industry.

Earlier this month, the Chicago Taxi Drivers Workers Rights Board, convened by AFSCME Council 31, issued a report recommending an overhaul of the city's taxi regulations to make them fairer for drivers. Bob Bruno, professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, chaired the Workers Rights Board, which based much of its findings and recommendations on cab driver testimony the panel gathered during a November hearing.

"While reports have documented many driver concerns about trying to earn a living in a difficult industry, one of the most persistent and noxious sources of grievances is how a number of city agencies enforce the rules governing the terms and conditions of taxi service," the report reads. "Specifically, questions and complaints about how select city agencies impose a system of tickets, fines and licensure threats on drivers is at the root of an escalating amount of collective worker anger."

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UNITE HERE Airline Catering Workers Launch Affordable Health Care Campaign (VIDEO)

Airline food service workers took their new "nickel a ticket" campaign for affordable health care to the downtown Chicago headquarters of United Airlines Thursday morning.

Gate Gourmet airline catering employees at O'Hare International Airport, represented by UNITE HERE Local 1, delivered a letter to the airline's offices at Willis Tower, calling on United to set aside one nickel per passenger ticket to help "fix the problem of unaffordable health care" for the workers.

The letter was delivered on behalf of more than 10,000 airline food service workers from various catering companies at 42 U.S. airports, according to organizers. In addition to the letter, Chicago Gate Gourmet employees dropped off a box to United's offices containing photos of 1,000 of the catering workers who have signed a petition asking the airline to earmark a nickel per passenger ticket for health care costs.

UNITE HERE's national "nickel a ticket" worker campaign, launched on Thursday, is targeting United, as well as American and Delta airlines.

"We're in Chicago with our group, and we have workers that are rallying also in Atlanta, which is the home of Delta Airlines. We have workers in Dallas, home of American, and 17 additional cities across the U.S. starting the campaign today," said Meghan Cohorst, spokeswoman for UNITE HERE Local 1, which represents 900 Gate Gourmet workers at O'Hare.

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Study: Several U.S. Corporations 'Fleecing' Uncle Sam, Spending More On CEOs

A number of large U.S. corporations spent more on executive compensation than federal income taxes in 2013, according to a recent analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government.

Seven out of the 30 largest U.S. corporations examined for the "Fleecing Uncle Sam" report -- including Boeing Co., Ford Motor Co., Chevron Corporation, CitiGroup Inc., Verizon Communications, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and General Motors Co. -- spent $121 million on total compensation for their seven CEOs in 2013. On average, that's $17.3 million per CEO.

The seven firms reported over $74 billion in combined U.S. pre-tax income in 2013, but they collectively raked in nearly $1.9 billion in U.S. corporate income tax refunds that year. As such, the average effective tax rate in 2013 for the seven corporations was negative 2.5 percent, the analysis found.

"If the seven giant, highly-profitable corporations that paid their CEOs more than Uncle Sam had paid the full statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent, they would've owed $25.9 billion in federal taxes," the report states. "Instead they received $1.9 billion in refunds, for a total difference of $27.8 billion."

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Study: Top 1% Of Earners In Illinois Captured 97% Of Post-Recession Income Gains

The top 1 percent in Illinois took home nearly all of the state's income gains in the first few years of the U.S. economy's recovery from the Great Recession.

That's one of the findings of a new study on income inequality published by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. The report was co-authored by Estelle Sommeiller, a socioeconomist at the Institute for Research in Economic and Social Sciences in France, and Mark Price, an economist at the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Overall, the study showed that the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers in 39 states, including Illinois, captured at least half of all the post-recession income gains in their respective states between 2009 to 2012. Over this time period, 17 states saw their top 1 percent of earners gain 100 percent of the income growth, according to the researchers, who examined state-level tax data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Average incomes grew faster from 2009 to 2012 for those in the top 1 percent than the bottom 99 percent in every state but West Virginia, the report reads. And in 2012, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans earned almost 30 times the income of those in the bottom 99 percent.

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Activists Bring Fight To Save A Rogers Park 'Community House' To Citibank (VIDEO)

About 30 Chicago housing activists picketed outside a Citibank branch Wednesday morning as part of their ongoing fight to save a Rogers Park "community house."

Organizers toted signs reading, "I support the house on Ridge" and "Housing is a human right," while tenants of the home, located at 7245 N. Ridge Ave., were inside the branch attempting to meet with a Citibank mortgage representative to discuss their offer to purchase the foreclosed property.

Jorge Ortiz, an organizer with Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, lives in the home with his family, including his mother and uncle. Ortiz and his family moved into the Rogers Park home in 2012 after the previous property owner, who was facing foreclosure, abandoned it. Organizers said Citibank later purchased the home at a foreclosure auction.

The current tenants of the bank-owned home, with the help of Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, turned the property into a "community house" that hosts clothing drives, movie screenings, health fairs and other neighborhood events. People who have had difficulties finding affordable housing also stay there, organizers said. The tenants at the property are currently facing eviction.

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