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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:20pm
Wed Sep 28

Chicago Teachers Union Sets October 11 Strike Date

The Chicago Teachers Union's governing body approved an October 11 strike date Wednesday, putting the union one step closer toward its second walkout since 2012. 

"If we cannot reach an agreement by then, we will withhold our labor," CTU President Karen Lewis told reporters Wednesday evening after a special meeting of the union's House of Delegates. 

CTU and school district officials have yet to agree on a new labor contract to replace the one that expired in June 2015.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:57pm
Wed Sep 28

Report: U.S. Taxpayers Subsidized $725 Million In Wall Street CEO Bonuses In The Last Four Years

Twenty leading U.S. banks collectively paid their top five executives $2 billion in tax-deductible bonuses between 2012 and 2015, according to a recent report examining Wall Street CEO pay.

That $2 billion figure works out to be a tax break valued at $725 million, or $1.7 million per executive per year, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a progressive think tank, found.

"Taxpayers should not have to subsidize excessive CEO bonuses at any corporation," report co-author and IPS Global Economy Project Director Sarah Anderson said in a statement. "But such subsidies are particularly troubling when they prop up a pay system that encourages the reckless behavior which caused one devastating national crisis -- and could cause more in the future."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:16pm
Fri Sep 23

Report: Income Inequality Is Worse For Black Workers Today Than In 1979

Racial wage gaps are wider today than in 1979 due largely to discrimination and growing income inequality, according to new research from the Economic Policy Institute.

The average wage gap between black and white workers was 18.1 percent in 1979, with the gap widening to 26.7 percent in 2015, the left-leaning think tank reports.

Rutgers University economist William M. Rodgers III co-authored the report with Valerie Wilson, director of EPI's Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy.

"We've found that racial wage gaps are growing primarily due to discrimination -- and other unmeasured and unobserved characteristics-- along with rising inequality in general," Rodgers said. 

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

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. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
9:02am
Mon Sep 19

Proposed Constitutional Amendment Seeks To Protect Illinois Transportation Funding

When Illinoisans hit the polls in November, they will see a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot asking whether the state should put transportation funding in a "lockbox" so that it cannot be used for non-related spending.

If the amendment passes, the Illinois Constitution would be amended to ensure transportation funding is safeguarded from being spent on other purposes, like balancing the state budget.

Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding, a coalition of business, labor and construction groups, is leading the advocacy effort in support of the so-called "Safe Roads Amendment," which made it onto the November 8 ballot after strong bipartisan approval from the state legislature.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:56pm
Mon Sep 12

Report: Paid Sick Time Beneficial To Workers And Businesses

As paid sick leave laws continue to gain traction across the United States, a recent report finds such policies to be a win-win for workers and their employers.

For its report, the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) examined over a dozen scholarly and policy research articles covering the health, economic and social benefits of paid sick time.

"Seeing the research brought together, from a range of disciplines, makes a striking case for universal access to paid sick days as a low-cost strategy for improving health and economic well-being," IWPR Vice President and Executive Director Barbara Gault said in a statement.

The think tank's analysis came shortly Chicago passed legislation mandating earned paid sick time and as commissioners in Cook County are set to vote on similar policy on October 5. Chicago was the 34th jurisdiction in the United States to guarantee paid sick days.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:58am
Thu Sep 8

Experts: Federal Reserve Is 'Past Due' For New Monetary Policy Framework

An overhaul of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy framework may be needed in order to achieve a "full employment future."

Economic experts make that argument in a new paper for the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

The CBPP report explored alternatives to the Fed's current practices. The goal was to examine the proposals' potential effectiveness in promoting full employment, particularly "the strong and sustained labor market conditions that boost living standards and career trajectories across the income distribution and contribute to broad prosperity," the paper reads.

Carola Binder, assistant professor of economics at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and Alex Rodrigue, a Haverford College math and economics major, co-authored the CBPP report. They wrote about their research in an op-ed for the Huffington Post.

"The Fed's monetary policy is not entirely to blame for the problems associated with labor market slack- weak demand, chronically low or negative inflation, slow growth, stagnating wages, and rising inequality - but it could be part of the solution," the op-ed reads. "That will require more than just fine-tuning, however; it will require a new framework for monetary policy. We aspire for a future characterized by full employment: consistently strong labor market conditions that enable workers across the income distribution to bargain for higher wages."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:10pm
Wed Sep 7

O'Hare Contract Workers Allege 'Rampant Wage Theft' (UPDATED)

Contract workers at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport are allegedly facing "rampant wage theft," and they are calling on the city and state to investigate the issue.

O'Hare workers and SEIU* Local 1 officials discussed the wage theft allegations Wednesday morning and announced filings of wage theft complaints with the Illinois Labor Department and Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

The charges include 60 Chicago minimum wage ordinance violations and 20 Illinois Labor Department violations, according to the union. 

At issue are security officers, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants and other workers who are employed by O'Hare contractors, including Universal Security, Prospect Airport Services, and Scrub, Inc. The union recently conducted a wage theft survey of about 300 contracted O'Hare workers, finding that they collectively lost $1 million in wages last year.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:36am
Wed Sep 7

Environmental Group Demands Action On Lead Emissions From Small Airplanes

A leading environmental group wants swift federal action on leaded aviation fuel used by small airplanes and some helicopters.

Friends of the Earth released a new report on the issue, noting that leaded aviation fuel, or "avgas," accounts for 50 percent of all airborne lead emissions.

Lead is a highly toxic metal known to adversely affect neurological development.

"While lead has been banned or limited in consumer products, building materials and automotive gasoline, no action to date has been taken to address the largest source of lead emissions into the air -- leaded aviation fuel," reads the Friends of the Earth's report, prepared by the Center for Environmental Health.

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