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Quick Hit
by Michael Joyce
3:45pm
Mon Feb 22, 2016

Candlelight Vigil Held For Several Hundred Jobs Lost & In Peril In Chicago

A warm atmosphere contrasted the cold weather as demonstrators gathered to chant, cheer, and shout in defiance of Mondelez International, one of the world's largest snack companies, Sunday evening.

At times it was difficult to hear the organizers speaking over the sounds of the crowd cheering and passing cars beeping on the corner of 73rd and Kedzie Ave., where a candlelight vigil was held directly across the street from the Nabisco factory, which is owned by Mondelez International.

Last year, Mondelez told employees that the company would be relocating much of the production work to Salinas, Mexico.

So far 227 employees have received layoff notices as a result of the company closing nine of the bakery's sixteen production lines. Additionally, Mondelez is contemplating the opening of four new lines in Mexico, which would result in a total loss of 600 jobs in Chicago.

Barbara Cimbalista, an employee of Mondelez International, says she was told by management that if they want to keep their jobs, they need to be able to compete with Mexico.

"I said, 'how do you expect us to compete with Mexico when they get $3 an hour, and we get $25 an hour,'" asked Cimbalista. "They said cut wages and benefits. I said 'no, I don't think so.'"

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:51pm
Wed Feb 3, 2016

CTU Closes Bank Of America Account Over 'Toxic' Interest Rate Swaps (VIDEO)

One day after Chicago Public Schools officials announced $100 million in proposed budget cuts, the Chicago Teachers Union closed its Bank of America account on Wednesday in protest over the controversial interest rate swap agreements held between the bank and school district.

CTU says cash-strapped CPS, which is facing a $480 million budget hole this fiscal year, has lost more than $502 million to "predatory" swap deals with financial institutions, including Bank of America. According to the union, Bank of America has collected $77 million in profits off of its interest rate swaps with CPS.

"What we hope is that our withdrawal of funds will spark people all over this city, all over this state and all over the country to start withdrawing funds from Bank of America until they give back some of the ill-gotten gains they've made off the backs of our students," CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said outside the Bank of America at 135 S. LaSalle St.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:25pm
Tue Jan 19, 2016

Report: Illinois Interest Rate Swap Deals Squeezing State Budget

Progress Illinois details the findings of a new report from the ReFund America Project about the financial costs associated with the state's interest rate swap agreements. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:41pm
Tue Jan 12, 2016

Chicago Progressive Aldermen: Put The Brakes On Swap Termination Payment Plan

Chicago's Progressive Reform Caucus wants the Emanuel administration to "delay or abandon" its proposal to use roughly $100 million in borrowed money to pay termination penalties for interest-rate swap agreements.

The caucus opposes the "Emanuel administration's plan to voluntarily pay massive interest-rate swap termination penalties" because it could result in "windfall profits for big banks" and cost "taxpayers more over the next few decades," Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said during a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday. 

The interest-rate swap agreements in question, held between the city and financial institutions, date back to former Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration. The $100 million in swap termination payments is part of a $2 billion borrowing package set to go before the Chicago City Council on Wednesday. 

"The administration has said we're getting out of these risky deals, but what we're getting out of this deal is an irresponsible financial move by the administration," Waguespack said. "We need to stop this plan, abandon it today, and not move forward on behalf of taxpayers."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:56pm
Tue Sep 29, 2015

O'Hare Workers Join Fight For $15; Fast Food Laborers Bring Wage Campaign To Chicago Suburbs

The local Fight for $15 movement continues to gain steam as an increasing number of Illinois low-wage workers join the call for better pay and the right to unionize without retaliation.

Initially spearheaded by fast food workers, the national Fight for $15 campaign has since picked up support from service employees from other industries. On Tuesday, the movement welcomed security officers, janitors and passenger service workers at O'Hare International Airport, who are joining the campaign due to their "poverty wages."

O'Hare workers rallied with their supporters outside the airport Tuesday morning to officially kick off their entrance into the Fight for $15 movement.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:44pm
Wed Jun 17, 2015

Chicago City Council Roundup: $1B Borrowing OK'ed, Minimum Wage Fight Continues

Progress Illinois provides highlights from Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

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