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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:01pm
Mon Sep 19, 2016

Refugee Resettlement Surges In Chicago, Local Experts Say

The number of people seeking sanctuary in the Chicago area is growing significantly, according to a local agency that helps refugees resettle in the city.

"Right now, we are experiencing a really crazy surge in arrivals," Lea Tienou told an audience of college students as well as immigrant and refugee service providers and advocates.

Tienou is associate director of refugee family adjustment and employment services at the Heartland Alliance. She spoke Monday afternoon at DePaul University's Loop campus as part of a panel discussion about the global refugee crisis. 

The Heartland Alliance typically sees about 20 refugees per month, Tienou explained. Just in the last month, however, 100 refugees came to the agency, and 90 more are expected to seek assistance from the Heartland Alliance in September.

"It's been a really busy time, and this is throughout the country that we're seeing a really large influx of arrivals," she said. 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:31pm
Fri Sep 9, 2016

Chicago Activists To Rally For Education Policy Changes At First Presidential Debate

Education activists from Chicago and other U.S. cities will rally outside the first 2016 presidential debate later this month in Hempstead, New York in hopes that the candidates will embrace their seven-point public education policy agenda.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:38pm
Wed Jul 13, 2016

Advocates Urge Gov. Rauner To Sign Illinois Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights

Illinois caregivers, housecleaners and their advocates rallied at the Thompson Center Wednesday, urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

The Illinois General Assembly approved the measure during the last legislative session and sent it to the governor on June 26.

Rauner has 60 days to take action on the legislation, which would ensure that domestic workers in Illinois are paid no less than the minimum wage, receive at least one day off a week and have protections against sexual harassment.

Magdalena Zylinska is among the 35,000 estimated domestic workers in Illinois. She's a housecleaner in Chicago who organizes domestic workers with the Arise Chicago worker center.

"Since the domestic work industry is rapidly growing, and it is a very critical part of our state, I think it is a matter of urgency for this bill to pass," she said. "Also, as domestic workers, we make all other work possible. We take care of children, aging loved ones, people living with disabilities and the homes of families. We want to be recognized as real workers, and we want to be treated with respect."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:12pm
Wed May 11, 2016

Illinois Senate Passes Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights

Legislation to create a "Domestic Workers Bill of Rights" in Illinois passed the state Senate Wednesday, bringing caregivers and house cleaners one step closer to greater job security and improved working conditions.

The bill, which the House approved last May, now goes back to the lower chamber for a final vote, according to the Illinois Domestic Workers Coalition.

The domestic workforce, mostly made up of women, has historically been excluded from protections under state and federal laws extended to workers in other industries.

The proposed "Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights Act" is meant to ensure that domestic workers in Illinois are paid no less than the minimum wage, receive at least one day off a week and have protections against sexual harassment.

Quick Hit
by Michael Joyce
5:55pm
Mon May 2, 2016

Fight For $15 Takes Battle For A Living Wage To Chicago Suburbs

The Fight for $15 campaign is taking their call for a wage increase and better working conditions to the Chicago suburbs. The workers' rights campaign held a rally at Evanston's Fountain Square over the weekend.

Emboldened by recent Fight for $15 victories in New York and California, speakers called out McDonald's and other low-wage employers, demanding that they at least match Chicago's recent minimum wage increase.

"We all know Evanston is becoming increasingly less welcome to low-income residents by way of rising property values and less affordable housing," said Gabriel Machabanski, of the Open Communities organization. "Equally important, but less emphasized, is the stagnant poverty wages. Chicago has taken action and increased its minimum wage. There's no reason workers on this side of Howard should be making less than $10 an hour."

Illinois Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) also spoke at the event, saying that the economic landscape of the country has changed over the last 30 years, concentrating the distribution of wealth among the elite.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:26pm
Mon Apr 4, 2016

Internal Poll Shows Most Business Executives Back Minimum Wage Hike, Other Pro-Worker Measures

Most U.S. business executives support policies to boost the minimum wage and provide workers with paid sick time, predictive scheduling and increased maternity and paternity leave, an internal poll shows.

The poll findings, obtained by the progressive watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy, clash with the policy positions of business groups fighting against such proposals.

Luntz Global, operated by GOP pollster Frank Luntz, conducted the poll of 1,000 U.S. business executives on behalf of the Council of State Chambers. Among those surveyed, 63 percent belong to a chamber of commerce.

According to the findings, 80 percent of survey respondents backed an increase in their state's minimum wage, compared to 8 percent who opposed the idea.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
5:41pm
Thu Feb 18, 2016

Report: Illinois Lost Solar Jobs In 2015, Ranking Slips Two Spots

Illinois lost about 300 jobs in the solar industry last year, according to the annual "National Solar Jobs Census" released by the Solar Foundation.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:48pm
Fri Nov 6, 2015

'Political Will' Missing In Improving Chicago's Public Housing, Thought Leaders Say

There is a lack of "political will" to improve the state of public housing in Chicago, participants at a roundtable discussion on the "future of public housing" argued Friday morning.

At the discussion, attended by a few dozen thought leaders in the nonprofit, academic, community development and affordable housing arenas, Breann Gala with the Metropolitan Planning Council pointed to the sluggish pace of Chicago's Plan for Transformation -- a huge undertaking launched in 2000 to relocate public housing residents to mixed-income housing units.

"There was momentum under [former Chicago Mayor Richard M.] Daley, for better or worse, whether people liked it or not, there was something happening," she said. "And I feel like now ... we're just kind of stalled in this conversation."

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