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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
9:35am
Fri Jul 22

Top CEOs Made Less In 2015, But They Still Earned 276 Times More Than Average Worker

CEOs at America's largest firms received an average of $15.5 million in compensation last year, meaning they earned 276 times more than the typical worker in 2015, new research shows.

The $15.5 million in average CEO compensation was down about 5 percent from 2014, when the figure was $16.3 million, and up 46.5 percent since the economic recovery began in 2009, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

"Most (83 percent) of the decline in CEO pay from 2014 to 2015 can be explained by the drop in the value of realized stock options in that period," EPI's report reads. "Therefore the decline in compensation does not reflect any structural change in how CEO compensation is set or changes in corporate governance. CEO compensation will likely resume its upward trajectory when the stock market resumes upward movement."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:16am
Thu Jul 21

Tyson Meat Company Ranked As Worst Illinois Water Polluter Among Agribusinesses

New research shows the Tyson Fresh Meats animal slaughtering facility in Hillsdale was the top water polluter in Illinois among major agribusiness operations in 2014.

That year, the Tyson Fresh Meats plant released over 2 million pounds of pollutants into the state's waterways, according to the Environment America Research & Education Center's report.

The environmental advocacy group examined the "water pollution footprints" of Tyson Foods and four other major agribusinesses, Cargill, JBS, Perdue and Smithfield, in Illinois and other states. Forty-four percent of the nation's pork, chicken and beef is produced by those five companies, according to the report.

Researchers analyzed the most recent 2014 data from the federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) on pollution discharges into waterways from the five major agribusinesses. Among the findings, Tyson's facilities released the most pollutants nationwide -- nearly 21 million pounds. 

That's more pollutants "by volume than even Exxon Mobil or DuPont," according to the environmental group.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:45pm
Wed Jul 20

Chicago Aldermen Approve Property Tax Rebate, Propose Sources Of Revenue For Schools

A group of Chicago aldermen proposed a package of ordinances Wednesday to generate revenue for the city's cash-strapped public schools.

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district has a $300 million budget gap, and schools are reportedly facing a 7 percent funding cut in the upcoming academic year.

"We've received some money from the state, but it's just not enough," Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said at a press conference before the council meeting with fellow aldermen, the Chicago Teachers Union and other education advocates.

"We need to find more progressive and more viable solutions to increase revenue so that all of our schools can be adequately financed, so that we can give quality teachers an opportunity to teach in our schools," he continued. "When I had a conversation with a principal yesterday, she was perplexed that she could not hire a 20-plus year veteran school teacher because she could not afford it. That's not right."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:33pm
Tue Jul 19

Chicago Aldermen Call On Illinois Congressional Delegation To Oppose TPP

Chicago aldermen who oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will introduce a resolution at Wednesday's city council meeting urging the Illinois Congressional Delegation to reject the 12-nation trade agreement.

Alds. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), David Moore (17th), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) and Anthony Napolitano (41st) joined labor allies at City Hall Tuesday afternoon to announce the resolution, which is being proposed ahead of next week's Democratic National Convention.

"We're calling on the delegates at the Democratic National Convention to take this off part of their platform agenda so that they can look out for the working class, for the people that they are supposed to represent," Sadlowski Garza stressed.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:34pm
Thu Jul 14

Controversy Over Joe Walsh's Threatening Tweet Spills Over Into 66th House District Race

Controversy over former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh's incendiary tweets posted last Thursday after the deadly sniper attack on Dallas police officers has spilled over into the state's 66th House District race.

The Democrat in the race, Nancy Zettler, is calling on her Republican opponent, Allen Skillicorn, to disavow Walsh's "hate-filled statements."

Walsh has faced backlash for a now-deleted tweet that threatened "war" on President Barack Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

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

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
12:12pm
Mon Jul 11

Report: LGBTQ Youth Face Hostile School Environments, 'Harsh' Disciplinary Actions

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students encounter hostile school environments and face "harsh and exclusionary disciplinary policies" that may effectively push them out of school and possibly into the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

That's according to a report released late last month from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

"Findings from this report demonstrate that, for many LGBTQ students, schools are hostile environments that effectively function to push students out of school, depriving them of the opportunity to learn," the report reads. "When LGBTQ students feel less safe, less comfortable, and less welcome in schools, they are less likely to attend and more likely to drop out.

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
3:45pm
Fri Jul 8

Op-Ed: The Supreme Court Gets It Right On Home Care – Now It’s Gov. Rauner’s Turn

The following was written by Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas. 

Last week, working people won a long overdue victory when the Supreme Court decided to let stand a new federal rule that prevents homecare employers from denying their workers minimum wage or overtime pay. The decision will help bring to an end a nearly 80-year policy of discrimination against more than 2 million workers who take care of our nation's elderly and people with disabilities.

It should also serve as a wake-up-call for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is trying to bully thousands of working women of color who care for our state's elderly and people with disabilities into a deal that would deny them the ability to care for their own families.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:07pm
Thu Jul 7

Chicago Activists, Lawmakers Deliver Petitions To SEC For Action On 'Toxic' Interest Rate Swaps (VIDEO)

Chicago community activists and local elected officials delivered 88,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) regional office Thursday morning, urging the agency to investigate complex financial agreements called interest rate swaps.

Those who delivered the petition signatures, collected online by the Grassroots Collaborative and several other organizations, say cash-strapped local and state governments are being squeezed by the "toxic swaps" they entered into with banks before the Great Recession. The complicated deals, which come with hefty penalties and termination fees, were intended to save taxpayer-backed organizations money, but they backfired when the economy crashed.

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